Christopher O’Riley Plays Radiohead, Ravel, and Beethoven

Posted January 24, 2008 in

Christopher O’Riley Plays Radiohead, Ravel, and Beethoven

Any Radiohead fan knows that it takes genius to marry the soaring, melancholy of Thom Yorke’s operatic vocals, calming bass of Colin Greenwood anchoring brother Jonny’s physically aggressive guitar riffs, and the spacious, expansive soundscape that typically defines their music—dissonant chord changes that lend themselves to instrumental virtuosity. Yet Christopher O’Riley succeeds in capturing all these elements with a skill and finesse that would bring Yorke to tears, and he brings his act to the Riverside Municipal Auditorium this weekend, in between takes of Ravel’s “Concerto in D for Left Hand” and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica.”

O’Riley, an award-winning classical pianist and host of National Public Radio’s From the Deep, first got hooked on the group’s groundbreaking third album, OK Computer.  The band’s polyphonic multi-layering proved too irresistible a challenge, and O’Riley found himself dissecting their electronic symphonies to the benefit of his preferred instrument of piano, listening and transcribing the pieces by ear. Radiohead compositions soon crept into concert pieces during intermissions. Before long he’d bridged a sophisticated modern rock to the classical-music snob like nobody else had ever done. O’Riley’s obsession netted him two tribute albums of moderate crossover success—2003’s True Love Waits (which earned four stars from Rolling Stone) and Hold Me to This.  

If you’re not convinced this is the real thing, take a spin of “Pyramid Song” on O’Riley’s website ( Then, become entranced at intermission with “Fake Plastic Trees,” “Paranoid Android,” and “Let Down”—he’ll have you at ‘Hello.’ And take the buzz from the droopy-eyed singer himself—O’Riley is the real McCoy. (Nancy Powell)

Christopher O’Riley plays Radiohead, Ravel and Beethoven at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium, 3485 Mission Ave., Riverside, (877) 744-5849. Tickets $10 and up; Saturday, Jan. 26, 8PM; Sunday, Jan. 27, 2PM


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