Byrne-ing Down the House

Via The Post-Standard

By Mark Bialczak

Even before he'd played a note, David Byrne stood in the big applause Saturday at the Landmark Theatre.

To say the guy who'd led the Talking Heads to such a prominent spot in pop music history had a smile on his face would be a drastic understatement. Beaming is a more appropriate description.

Dressed entirely in white, Byrne brought four top musicians, three backup singers and a trio of improvisational dancers. Similarly attired in white, they added tasty layers of art to Byrne's worldly rhythms, soaring melodies and quirky lyrics he co-wrote with longtime friend Brian Eno.

The ensemble served up songs from "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today," the new CD featuring the collaboration between Eno and Byrne, as well as pieces they'd co-written for other past projects.

"That's the menu for the evening," Byrne said. "There will be desserts."

The crowd appreciated the first several courses. As an appetizer, Byrne opened with "Strange Overtones" from the new CD. His voice strong and clear, he sang, "This groove is out of fashion. These beats are 20 years old. I saw you lend a hand to the ones out standing in the cold."

And just like that, the Scottish-born Byrne proved he's back in fashion.

In "One Fine Day," he sang, "I built my life with rhymes, to carry on. And it gives me hope to see you there." The fans were right there for him as he showed nimble feet with his dancers, played any of his half-dozen guitars and sang like he's never stopped making sense.

They didn't mind that the dancers did their own steps for "My Big Hands (Fall through Cracks)," which he'd written for famous choreographer Twyla Tharp. And they obviously dug that he sang straight and true instead of using vocal samples in "Help Me Somebody" from "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts."

Then he got to what most folks figured would be that dessert, a one-two punch of Talking Heads greatness. The whole crowd got up to dance to "Once in a Lifetime" and really shook it for "Life in Wartime" with it's oh-so-familiar lines, "This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no fooling around."

He followed that with the slinky "I Feel My Stuff" from the new CD, and it was obvious that the span between 1980s Talking Heads and 2008 David Byrne is a straight path indeed.

Byrne and mates came back for three encores. More Talking Heads mixed with more new discoveries.

The crowd waved arms overhead, swimming through the funky "Take Me to the River" and dancing feverishly to "Burning Down the House."

He finished with the title cut from the new CD, singing with plenty of feeling, "Everything that happens will happen today, and nothing has changed, but nothing's the same. And every tomorrow could be yesterday. And everything that happens will happen today."

What a fine ending to a definitively hip and happening evening.

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