Wednesday, December 17, 2008
David Byrne at the Landmark Theatre! A Review!
At the end of November I was able to cross off an item off of my "Before I Die To Do List". I went to see David Byrne perform live at the landmark theatre in Syracuse. After a startlingly short drive (Less than an hour!) I arrived and with the help of an elderly usher found my spot. Always up to date on the current topics in the areas he tours, David Byrne opened with saying he hoped there were no shopping related deaths in the Syracuse area.
Then Byrne and his first class band and three dancers all adorned in white clothing began the show. Starting with the lead single off of the new album he made with longtime friend Brian Eno "Everything that Happens Will Happen Today"; "Strange Overtones", then moved onto another cut off of the new album "My Big Nurse". Following this David Byrne played a satisfying smattering of songs from the Talking Heads albums that Eno produced back in the late 70's and early 80's. Including "Air" and "I Zimbra".
Byrne also played "Help Me Somebody", a track from the album that he and Eno collaborated on in 1981 (27 years ago!) from their singular album "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts." He even paused for a moment to remark that the "Found Sound Vocals" featured in the album would be called "Samples" today. During the song the two female dancers and one male dancer frenetically bounded across the stage and made various poses, looking springing alarm clocks or penguins carrying around eggs in between their legs.
As if waiting for the perfect time to strike, David Byrne unleashed a veritable A-Bomb of dance/funk elation on the crowd with a rousing rendition of "Houses in Motion" from the Talking Heads album "Remain in Light". The song differing from the introspective groove on the album seemed much more like Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" i.e. a full on funk fest. There was not a soul in the place not getting down. When the song ended there was so much applause I was worried we were going to standing ovation ourselves out of a concert.
Luckily, David kept on trucking playing even more highlights from many Talking Heads albums, including the hit "Once in a Lifetime", "The great Curve", "Life During Wartime", and "Heaven".
All throughout the dancers seemed like kids during bring your kids to work day, as if Byrne said to them: "You can be on stage, but you have to do something really cool behind me!" Their euphoric expressions made them look like ridiculous puppets or kindergarteners let loose on stage. You couldn't help but smile for looking at them.
One cool move the dancers had in their arsenal was to lay the backup singers on the ground and turn the mic stands upside down. Their inclusive dancing found all kinds of ways to incorporate the backup singers and sometimes even David himself. At one point one of the dancers even hurdled over Byrne's head while he played guitar. The stage was quite literally their playground. They later even brought guitars out to mimic Byrne and dance around him, forming a line of faux-guitaring playing which Byrne was all too happy to hop around with.
The crowd that was present at the David Byrne show was profoundly interesting. There were the uppity indie kids (like me) along with all kinds of other people. From kids who were dragged along with their parents, to parents reliving thier 80's heyday, to the aged college doof. Yes, I have seen the future of doof-dom and it is annoying. A man with a hat on and a beer in each hand, dancing in the isle next to a gimli look-alike hippie that thinks standing and dancing in his seat is some kind of grand way of sticking it to the man and testifying to the music...when it's just making the people in the row behind you mad because they paid just as much to be there as you did.
After much cheering and stomping and all the other things that crowds do at good shows, Byrne and company returned to the stage. They encored three times. first with a blazing version of "Burning Down the House". Then they played the Talking heads breakthrough hit "Take Me to the River." Their final encore was a sublime rendition of "Everything That Happens will Happen Today", the title track off of the new album. That song could quite possibly be the best song put out this year. I couldn't think of a better end to such a perfect night.
Talking Heads - Houses in Motion
David Byrne & Brian Eno - Help Me Somebody