By Adam Sweeting
While the Talking Heads catalogue has been repackaged more often than the government's immigration policy, David Byrne has kept moving decisively forwards as photographer, entrepreneur, author and musician. His recent album, Grown Backwards, is among the most surprising and gratifying things he's ever done, proving that there is a heart where once there seemed to be only circuitry. On his current tour, he surveys the breadth of his career, from Talking Heads to music he wrote for dance companies or movie soundtracks to the new songs, and it's striking how successfully he makes it sound all of a piece. Even during his most exotic excursions south of the equator, helping himself to some rhumba or cha-cha-cha or a collaboration with Caetano Veloso, Byrne has managed to take his geeky persona along for the trip, so the guide remains at least partially familiar.
Around him are drums, bass, percussion and the six-piece Tosca Strings, the latter providing prologues, counterpoints and instrumental colours in places where Byrne might once have used a variety of synthetic processes. During Blind, the strings played nervy upward swoops and simmering crescendos. They added an all-new introduction to Life During Wartime, wrung a twist of pathos from Glass Concrete & Stone, and sounded appropriately raddled during Byrne's quixotic massacre of Verdi's Un di Felice.
But even when he loiters in the shadows, Byrne manages to remain the centre of attention. It's never clear whether his dance routines are an expression of joy, a cry for help or mere choreography. Sometimes he just skips from side to side, at others it's as if the top half of his body was suspended from the ceiling while the bottom half runs around on a spinning platform.
But it heightens the impact of the best songs. I Zimbra twitched and juddered, She Only Sleeps was engagingly tongue in cheek, and Once in a Lifetime sounded huge even though only four musicians were playing it. It all added up to the sound of a musician rejuvenated.
At Usher Hall, Edinburgh (0131-228 1155), tonight, and touring.