Thom Yorke debuts Radiohead's rejected James Bond track 'Spectre' live for first time

The live debut comes on the heels of Yorke debuting a new eerie, electronic track titled 'The Axe' earlier this week.

                             Thom Yorke debuts Radiohead's rejected James Bond track 'Spectre' live for first time
Thom Yorke (Source : Getty Images)

As James Bond and Thom Yorke fans will proudly tell you, it's a little-known fact that Radiohead was commissioned to write the title track for the 2015 Bond film 'Spectre', but for some reason, the studio turned it down and went with Sam Smith instead.

Smith gave us the much-lauded 'Writings On The Wall' and became the first solo British male performer to sing a Bond theme since Tom Jones recorded 'Thunderball' in 1965.

Although that small faction of people that fall in the Venn Diagram of 'James Bond fans' and 'Radiohead fans' were left fuming at Columbia Pictures' terrible choice, they did find some consolation as Radiohead ultimately released the song, aptly titled 'Spectre' anyway, and the moody, intense track is one of their best of the past few years.

But so far, they’ve never played it live.

Now, as Stereogum points out, that changed for good. Last night, Thom Yorke played at Fabrique, a venue in the Italian city of Milan. And for his second encore, he played 'Spectre,' giving the song its live debut. (Although still, technically, Radiohead as a group, have never played the song live.) 

Played solo with piano, Yorke's rendition has nothing to replace the cinematic strings, resulting in something infinitely more harrowing. And something that's infinitely harder to picture set to the silhouettes of shapely women and bullets flying in slow motion.

It looks like Thom Yorke's in the mood to serve up surprises to fans during his solo tour. The live 'Spectre' debut comes on the heels of Yorke premiering a brand new solo song in Florence on Monday (May 28) night, when he kicked off his tour.

As a special treat for fans in the intimate 800-capacity theater, the Radiohead frontman began his encore with a brand new song reportedly titled, 'The Axe'.

Accompanied on stage by Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich and audiovisual artist Tarik Barri, Yorke blended the song right into the namesake track of Atoms for Peace.

Stereogum called it "an eerie, frigid, beat-driven electronic track the likes of which we’ve come to expect from solo Yorke in his ponytail era" with "high-pitched drones creating a queasy backdrop for Yorke’s gnarled ruminations."

Yorke put out his last solo album, 'Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes', in 2014, but has been cryptically teasing a new release in recent months. Back in December, he debuted two more new songs, 'I Am A Very Rude Person' and 'Saturdays'. He’s also set to make his film scoring debut with Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria remake.

The Radiohead frontman still has a few solo shows coming up before he reconvenes with the band for their North American summer tour, so perhaps we’ll get more fresh material in the coming weeks.

Thom Yorke 2018 Tour Dates:
05/30 – Zurich, CH @ Halle 622 *
06/01 – Berlin, DE @ Tempodrom *
06/03 – Brussels, BE @ Ancienne Belgique *
06/04 – Amsterdam, NL @ Royal Theatre Carré *
06/07 – Edinburgh, UK @ Usher Hall *
06/08 – London, UK @ Roundhouse *
06/10 – Manchester, UK @ Palace Theatre *
06/12 – Paris, FR @ L’Olympia *
06/13 – Lyon, FR @ Le Transbordeur *
06/16 – Barcelona, ES @ Sónar Festival

* = w/ Oliver Coates