This past October, Thom Yorke returned to the stage for his first live performance since the beginning of COVID-19. It was for a Letters Live event at London’s Royal Albert Hall, and the event featured a variety of stars including Brian Cox, Gillian Anderson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cynthia Erivo, and Sanjeev Bhaskar to name a few. It’s described as “a celebration of the enduring power of literary correspondence,” where the lineup was a surprise, in addition to the letters they recited.
In a recently shared video from the event, Yorke performed “Free in the Knowledge,” a track written in collaboration with his new band The Smile alongside Jonny Greenwood and Sons of Kemet drummer Tom Skinner. He introduced the track with a small speech, saying, “A lot has happened. I’m a British musician and I was told during the pandemic, along with all British musicians, that we should consider retraining. And then after, uh, when we actually finally left, they told us we didn’t really need to tour anymore anyway, did we? Around Europe. So perhaps I’m one of a dying breed, who knows?”
Watch the solo performance below.