A Look at Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood’s Debut as the Smile at Glastonbury 2021 Livestream


A Look at Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood’s Debut as the Smile at Glastonbury 2021 Livestream

The new band—with drummer Tom Skinner—was a surprise addition to Live at Worthy Farm on Saturday
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A screengrab of Thom Yorke performing during the Live at Worthy Farm livestream event, Pilton, Somerset, England, May 22, 2021.

Glastonbury announced a surprise headliner for its Live at Worthy Farm streaming event on Saturday (May 22): the Smile, a new band made up of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, and drummer Tom Skinner (Sons of Kemet). The event was ticketed, but after technical difficulties the organizers opened the stream up to the public. The Smile joined the stream between sets from Jorja Smith and Kano. You can watch it on the Live at Worthy Farm livestream here (The Smile set begins at the 2:45:53 mark).

Performing in a corrugated shed with what appeared to be a parachute as a roof, the Smile ran through eight new songs in just more than 30 minutes, with Yorke and Greenwood shuffling between guitars, bass, a Moog synthesizer, and a Fender Rhodes. Yorke introduced the band with a bit of a riddle: “Ladies and gentlemen, we are called ‘The Smile.’ Not the smile as in ‘ahh!’, more ‘the smile’ as in, the guy who lies to you every day…”

Perhaps unsurprisingly—with two of its three members coming from Radiohead—the Smile’s sound echoes some of that band’s vintage rock sensibilities, albeit stripped down into a three-piece. The differences lie in nuance, a slight bounce to Skinner’s drums on a few songs, an unfamiliar aggression from Greenwood in the bassline, and the warm analog tones from the guitars and the Rhodes piano.

The band has not yet shared any information about the songs they performed or revealed plans for their release. When announcing the project, Yorke credited Nigel Godrich as a producer, though Godrich didn’t perform with the Smile at Glastonbury. The band takes its name from a Ted Hughes poem. 

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