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AU56: David Byrne live review

May 1, 2009

Just being at this gig was a dream come true. DAVID FUCKING BYRNE!!! It totally lived up to expectations as well. It’s a shame there weren’t more people there to see it.

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One of the very few times I’ll use one of my own pics on here – took this on my phone and it’s been my phone background ever since.

DAVID BYRNE
WATERFRONT HALL, BELFAST
APRIL 7 2009

For David Byrne, performance is about so much more than just the music. The classic concert film Stop Making Sense – documenting a show on Talking Heads’ Speaking In Tongues tour – made that abundantly clear back in 1984, and the maxim remains true. On this tour, billed The Songs Of David Byrne and Brian Eno, Byrne is allowing his fans to wallow in nostalgia or – and this writer is in a minority among the largely middle-aged crowd on this one – to experience a raft of Talking Heads classics as second generation fans, perhaps led that way via the many modern acts that have drawn liberally from Byrne and co. As the title suggests, the set is, with a couple of exceptions, drawn from Byrne and Eno’s two collaborative albums, 1981’s My Life In The Bush of Ghosts and last year’s relatively genteel Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, as well as the three classic Eno-helmed Heads albums from 1978 to 1980’s near-peerless Remain In Light.

Happily, Byrne is generous with offerings from that record, the likes of ‘Born Under Punches’, ‘Once In A Lifetime’ and ‘Houses In Motion’ sparkling like new, augmented by a compact but crack band, backing singers and three energetic and acrobatic dancers. Most songs are accompanied by a choreographed routine, as the dancers bound across the stage, leap in the air and often involve the musicians and Byrne himself in their antics. It only adds to the spectacle and sense of occasion. By halfway through, pockets of the (disappointingly small – the balconies are empty) audience are out of their seats dancing. By the two-thirds mark, seats are deserted and a throng – your correspondent included – are dancing their asses off mere inches from Byrne. He may be 56 years old, white haired and well turned out in a dashing all-white number, but although he wryly admits in set opener ‘Strange Overtones’ that “This groove is out of fashion / these beats are 20 years old”, he could still teach the kids a thing or two.

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