Through rich harmonies, an impeccable loyalty to the album’s diversity of sounds, and a stellar guitar performance by Ryan Garvey, Alec Hutson and his band managed to successfully cover one of best albums of the century.

3/1/19 – Lizard Lounge

In Rainbows is arguably Radiohead’s most exquisite album. (Don’t @ us.) While Kid A might be their most innovative, OK Computer their best conceptually, and A Moon Shaped Pool their most emotionally mature, none of them are capable of provoking feelings the way that In Rainbows does. To cover an exceptionally beautiful album from this century’s most critically acclaimed band requires a supreme amount of self-belief. After all, this isn’t a Bob Dylan campfire sing-along session; Jonny Greenwood’s majestic guitar effects, Thom Yorke’s incomparable falsetto, and the sheer diversity of sounds used in that album would intimidate almost any musician. None of those factors were enough to keep Alec Hutson and his band from covering the album in full at the Lizard Lounge—and their performance was good enough to blow the audience away.

The show was an opportunity to hear and witness what makes In Rainbows such a richly devastating album – on a magnified scale. There were memorable moments from the album that were especially satisfying to see and hear up close such as Philip Selway’s ride cymbal groove at the beginning of “Reckoner” or the 5/4 beat on “15 Step” both played by Ryan Scalia. There were also anticipated moments from the album that would interest an informed listener as to how Hutson and his band would play more intricate sounds, such as the strings towards the end of “Faust Arp,” which were replaced by Christian Tremblay’s evanescent keys. Then, there were moments from the show that were simply breathtaking—and almost all of them were a result of Ryan Garvey’s guitar. Garvey, who also fronts RVRSR, stunned the audience with an otherworldly guitar solo on “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” and somehow made his guitar sound like a cello on “All I Need.” It was a testament to Greenwood’s genius, but an even more striking statement about Garvey’s talent.

Hutson covered Thom Yorke excellently, albeit at a lower range. He didn’t imitate Yorke’s trademark falsetto, which is almost ubiquitous throughout the album, but the power and clarity in his voice allowed the audience to actually hear Yorke’s often incomprehensible lyrics. After all, in an earlier interview with Sound of Boston, Hutson chuckled at “Faust Arp’s” final lyrics, “You got melted to butter.” He commented that despite the fact some of the album’s lyrics are “complete gibberish,” they “still manage to communicate a tangible feeling.” That feeling was especially prominent on “House of Cards,” in which the song’s subdued tone brought the lyrics to the forefront; stripped of their original production, the lyrics took on a new level of poignancy.

A pleasant addition to the show were the superb background vocals from Devina Boughton, Carly Kraft, Jess Curran, Heather Scott, and Nora Murphy. Through rich harmonies, they provided the high notes which Hutson chose to defer. On “Nude” especially, warmth filled the room as the singer and Hutson harmonized on the lyric, “They’re not gonna happen.” Aside from Garvey’s guitar solo on “Weird Fishes/ Arpeggi,” it was the show’s most hair-raising moment.

The Lizard Lounge was the ideal venue to host the show. The informality of the lounge, with tables surrounding the band from three sides, made the set feel more like a casual jam session between friends playing their favorite band’s songs for the hundredth time. Hopefully, more local bands decide to cover classic albums at the venue; it’s an effective way to introduce critically acclaimed albums in a new light.

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