KLPac celebrates Radiohead's music with a multi-sensory tribute


The Young KL Singers (YKLS) and the Kenny Shim Dance Collective will combine for the multi-sensorial 'True Love Waits: A Radiohead Tribute' at Pentas 2, KLPac on Aug 10-13. Photo: Chew Seng Cheong

True Love Waits was once a tune discarded by Radiohead and then salvaged, going through an array of arrangements through the years. It was first featured as a stripped down recording in the band's I Might Be Wrong live album in 2001.

A studio version was officially released on Radiohead’s ninth studio album A Moon Shaped Pool (2016).

If that tune has had a long and winding story, then the upcoming True Love Waits: A Radiohead Tribute concert at KLPac has gone through an equally difficult journey to reach the stage.

The theatre tribute was originally supposed to play at KLPac in August 2020, but the pandemic put the entire production in storage for three years.

This week, True Love Waits: A Radiohead Tribute will finally premiere as one of Yayasan Sime Darby Arts Festival (YSDAF) 2023’s pre-festival highlight events.

It will play at Pentas 2, KLPac on Aug 10-13, doubling up as a fundraising event for the arts centre.

The audience can experience Radiohead’s songs in a whole new light through music, movement, light and visuals. Photo: Chew Seng CheongThe audience can experience Radiohead’s songs in a whole new light through music, movement, light and visuals. Photo: Chew Seng Cheong

The multi-sensorial production has gone through multiple concept and cast changes. But some things are indeed worth the wait, says the show's music director Ian Chow (who is also KLPac's Group General Manager).

It is the brainchild of Chow along with Mak Chi Hoe (director/music director) and Kenny Shim (co-director/choreographer).

"I chose True Love Waits as the show's title because of how (Radiohead frontman) Thom Yorke and the band explored the many possibilities of the song in terms of its meaning and arrangement ... from the version(s) in the 1990s right up to when the band finally released the song," says Chow.

"It was like an evolution, to see how the band finally arrived with the studio version."

"Just like Bjork (the first artiste tribute series that Mak and Chow did at KLPac in Aug 2018), I always admire artistes who constantly reinvent themselves and redefine who they are," says Chow.

True Love Waits: A Radiohead Tribute, an hour-long live performance with 14 songs picked from Radiohead's diverse career, has been a big challenge for Chow, but he never abandoned the project.

“We started rehearsing in January 2020, thinking we would premiere it in August that year at YSDAF, but the pandemic changed everything. We re-started not once, not twice, but three times, rehearsing when we could while dealing with creative team members and almost 70% of the cast leaving – some migrating, while others moving on to other projects," says Chow.

'I always admire artistes who constantly reinvent themselves and redefine who they are,' says Chow (left) about the show. Photo: KLPac'I always admire artistes who constantly reinvent themselves and redefine who they are,' says Chow (left) about the show. Photo: KLPac

“It was creatively exhausting and frustrating to keep things going for three years, but thanks to a great team, here we are, finally ready for the masses,” he adds.

Inspired by Radiohead’s uncompromising creative spirit, this KLPac tribute concert – with choral singing by The Young KL Singers (YKLS) and dance by the Kenny Shim Dance Collective – allows the audience to experience the British band’s songs in a whole new light through music, movement, light and visuals.

"In this production, the audience can also see how different art forms – dance, visual art, and choral arrangement – can come together to interpret what the songs of Radiohead mean or represent for them," says Chow.

He also adds that the show is not your usual sit-down concert.

"We have reconfigured the concert space at Pentas 2. The audience – in this freestanding concert – will be surrounded by performers on a U-shaped stage and are free to move around and experience the show from different angles."

There will also be True Love Waits: A Radiohead Tribute repeat performances during the YSDAF finale at KLPac on Aug 19 and 20.

Be it the fundraising show series or the festival edition, the music director also prefers not to reveal too much about the tribute setlist.

Chow teases that tunes from the 1997 album OK Computer will be "well-represented", while Creep and Fake Plastic Trees will offer an early 1990s karaoke rewind. Deep cuts such as Weird Fishes/Arpeggi and Motion Picture Soundtrack will also please the anoraks (obsessive fans) in the crowd.

"It's will be a Radiohead celebration, just presented in a different way," says Chow.

Apart from the haunting harmonies arranged by Dr Tracy Wong and presented by the 30-strong YKLS, the show also features cellist Eugene Chong, guitarist Daniel Lee and programmer Ian Francis Khoo.

Set designer Wee Jia Foong, who employs LED light installation and multimedia, will add to the show's immersive experience. You might recognise his recent theatre design work for the much-talked about Psychosynthesis, also choreographed by Shim.

True Love Waits: A Radiohead Tribute plays at Pentas 2, KLPac on Aug 10-13. More info here.

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