By Beth Arnold
David Byrne burned down the house at the Olympia Hall on Wednesday night. No warm-up band--just him and his troupe of singers, dancers, and musicians, who performed a fantastical set of Byrne and Brian Eno songs from their new album Byrne is touring, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. No smoke and mirrors for Byrne. The show was a happening--a rock modern dance--the choreography young, loose, and urban, a David Byrne Appalachian Spring. The singers danced and played music, and the dancers sang and played all across the stage, including through Byrne's legs and over his head. Byrne and his company blew the audience away, and the French, who may be adorable but don't really know how to boogie or have any soul moves, were up out of their seats shaking their booties throughout the entire concert.
David Byrne comes to raise the hair on your arms and the sweat on your palms. Eno and Byrne have made a new record, Everything that Happens will Happen Today, their first in 30 years--the formula was lost, but now it has been found.
It was a special pleasure to see him at the Olympia, which was founded in 1888 by the creator of the Moulin Rouge, "the oldest music hall in Paris."
...It may have opened as a music hall under the German occupation of France during World War II, but certainly in 1945 after the Liberation, it was a music hall free to Allied troops in uniform. Attendees had to listen to the playing of four national anthems before the varied programs that always ended with a spirited French can-can performed by dancers, some of whom were no longer young...
Everyone from Josephine Baker to Judy Garland, Edith Piaf, Diana Krall, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Leonard Cohen, James Brown--you get the picture--has played dates in its plush comfiness. I've seen The Chieftains, Sarah McLachlan, Paul McCartney, Byrne now, and others. Missed some I would've loved because getting a full view of all future concerts in Paris isn't easy.
But if you love music and you're coming to town, check out who's playing at The Olympia. You might catch a lucky break and see a show to remember. You might see David Byrne burning down an old favorite with his modern art.