Byrne Down the House

Via Edmonton Sun

By Fish Griwkowsky

Same as it ever was? To a degree, for sure. David Byrne is still obsessed with the middle America which produced him, singing something he calls "electronic gospel" at the Jube last night to 2,100 of us. His idea to tour the songs he and uber-producer Brian Eno (Talking Heads, Bowie, Devo, U2) made either three decades back or last year, via a straightforward new album called Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, well, it's pretty damn perfect musical curation.

Between him and Eno, every bizarre sound you wish was on shock jock radio today was brewed in their nerd rock labs. They're universally acknowledged as influential. Given these credentials, the 2008 album of major-key pop songs was less mindblowing than most of their earlier work, but Byrne spiced them up excellently last night with a 10-piece band, including hyperactive ballet dancers.

Of course, what really blew us to pieces were college classics like My Big Hands from his obscure solo album you should buy today called The Catherine Wheel. Orbited by his dancers, he played checklist Talking Heads numbers like Take Me to the River, the spectacular Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) and the relevant Life During Wartime. Then there was the beautiful Heaven, off 1979's Fear of Music, basically a lyrically perfect song - "When this party's over it will start again. Will not be any different, will be exactly the same." Makes a fellow want to die tomorrow!

The Great Curve in the encore matched Byrne's funk fetish as the band, all dressed in white like sous chefs, did breakdance anthem Crosseyed and Painless. And the way his dancers echoed old performances of Once in a Lifetime from the video and the famous Stop Making Sense film was wicked, too, Byrne absolutely screaming for his supper. We even got an extra encore with Air - though I did miss Talking Heads bass player Tina Weymouth just a little. Oh well. Oddly, the post-Eno Burning Down the House even showed, in which Byrne and crew all donned tu-tus.

Given the tight range of material, I appreciated this more than the folk fest appearance. He even made fun of competing with the Oscars and, oddly enough, Billy Idol. Well, that weird humour's definitely intact.

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