By Mike Dwyer
EVERY passing year makes a more remarkable juggling act of David Byrne's musical progress. His return to Melbourne last night encompassed Portuguese lament, particle physics, data sound paintings, African rhythms, and in just a second song, "A grand united theory of everything".
There were hits, too, the stomp-along kind that Talking Heads fans have long been waiting for Byrne to rediscover.
I Zimbra, Road to Nowhere, And She Was, and Once in a Lifetime appeared early, to roars of appreciation although followers of Byrne's zig-zag path through modern life and culture seemed thrilled with even the more obscure selections.
The full-bodied accompaniment of the six-piece Tosca string section was intoxicating in itself. Their arrangement of Talking Heads' signature tune, Psycho Killer, made one of the New York New Wave's defining moments into something more akin to operetta.
Among the surprises were reinventions of Jimi Hendrix and Cole Porter tunes, typical of Byrne's refusal to stay put in one genre. His surreal song introductions were also a treat.
His stories were punctuated by grins and laughter as if even he couldn't quite believe he was a part of such an eccentric and popular history.
As a dancer, he is more encouraging than spectacular, but as a musician Byrne seems to sprout a new movement with every grey hair.