By Vincent Amoroso,
David Byrne, co-creator of the Talking Heads, songwriter, performer, published author, filmmaker and actor, catered to nostalgia Tuesday evening at Zoellner Arts Center as he kicked off a three month tour.
Touring behind his recently released "Everything that Happens Will Happen Today," Byrne found himself once again collaborating with longtime friend and producer Brian Eno on this album. Since the Talking Heads' inception in 1976, Byrne and Eno joined forces on over seven different albums, including their latest.
Byrne was founding member and principal songwriter of the new wave band Talking Heads from 1974 until the band broke up in 1991. He has released numerous solo albums and his achievements have been recognized by Grammy, Oscar and Golden Globe awards.
Waiting for "The Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno," the crowd of 50-somethings eagerly waited for what they hoped would be a typical Byrne performance.
From the stage setup alone, it was evident that the old Byrne - the Byrne of "Stop Making Sense" (1984) - may reveal himself. Situated stage left were three back-up vocal mics and a percussion unit equipped with congas, bongos, maracas, bells and chimes. Stage right consisted of a keyboard with laptop accessory, bass guitar and full drum set. Byrne, of course, took center stage.
With a few words from Zoellner Managing Director, Elizabeth Scofield and a dimming of the lights, Byrne sheepishly took the stage.
The performers, dressed in matching white attire, watched Byrne as he fumbled with his guitar effects and addressed the crowd in an uncharacteristically awkward and reserved manner.
Opening with "Strange Overtones" from his new album, "Everything that Will Happen," Byrne tested the waters with his timing and signature dance moves. If there was any question about where the concert was going after the opener, they were quickly answered as Byrne and his band romped into the Talking Heads classic "I Zimbra."
Three dancers accompanied the band on stage with a tightly choreographed, avant-garde dance routine. The stage was lit with orange and yellow lights projected on a silk screen backdrop. It was clear that Byrne had locked into his highly refined, live concert genius.
The show continued with a new song, "One Fine Day" and a more obscure track, "Help Me Find Somebody" from the album "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts."
Following a moment of silence, Byrne prepared the band and counted off, as he would consistently do throughout the concert. Dancers entered stage right parading around Byrne as he ripped into "Houses in Motion." The landscape of colors changed to mirror the song's mood, while the performers shifted among one another. The crowd rose to its feet, serving as a five song standing ovation - one of four that would occur that evening.
The show provided an even mix of both the old and the new. Byrne did well to balance the set, pushing his new album, while pleasing those there with Talking Heads gems. "My Big Nurse," "Home," "The River," "Life is Long" and "I Feel My Stuff" comprised the new album portion of the performance. Fan favorites, "My Big Hands (Fall Through the Cracks)," "Heaven," Crosseyed and Painless," (second standing ovation) "Once in a Lifetime" (third standing ovation) and "Life During Wartime," were more than well received.
Byrne always had another gear which resonated with his audience - reciprocation of energy drove the concert, getting fans out of their seats and into the aisles, singing lyrics and dancing.
Byrne did his best to prolong the show, treating the audience to two separate encore sets - the first included "Take Me to the River" and "The Great Curve" both of which were equipped with crowd sing-a longs. Choosing to end the concert with the title track "Everything that Happens Will Happen Today," off his newest album, was no surprise to most - it was only fitting. Here, Byrne received his fourth and final standing ovation.
Byrne almost had fans forgetting why he was on tour: to push his new album. Spanning across generations, this is as close as most will ever come to seeing a Talking Heads show. Byrne proved he still has it, never lost it, and is the same as he ever was.