Byrne again: still mak­ing sense and mu­sic

The Herald on Sunday - Sunday Herald Life - - Culture - By Na­dine McBay

DAVID BYRNE Oc­to­ber 22,

SSE Hy­dro, Glas­gow

You’ll re­mem­ber this one. If you were lucky enough to see David Byrne’s June date at Glas­gow’s Royal Con­cert Hall, you know what I’m talk­ing about. If not, pre­pare to be stunned. That’s no idle talk: the Dum­bar­ton­born New Yorker be­gan his Amer­i­can Utopia World Tour back in March in the US be­fore mov­ing on to South Amer­ica, Canada and Europe.

With each date, crit­ics weren’t just im­pressed, they strug­gled to think of a con­cert to bet­ter it.

When Byrne him­self com­pared it with Stop Mak­ing Sense, Jonathan Demme’s con­cert film of Talk­ing Heads’ four nights at Hol­ly­wood’s Pan­tages Theater in sup­port of the band’s 1983 al­bum Speak­ing In Tongues, he might have been thought to be ex­ag­ger­at­ing.

With Byrne a dy­namic force of move­ment and pop power in his over­sized suit, Stop Mak­ing Sense rein­vented the live gig in the age of the pop video.

Now with Amer­i­can Utopia, he’s re­cast the rock gig as an up­lift­ing com­mu­nal event, one which uses the raw, rave-style power of be­ing to­gether in one big room to reach for some­thing that teams metic­u­lous high art with a car­ni­vale­seque flair for en­ter­tain­ment.

Chore­ographed by long-term col­lab­o­ra­tor An­nie-B Par­son and with ground-break­ing light­ing de­signed by Rob Sin­clair, these shows see Byrne as part of a 12-piece mu­si­cal per­for­mance troupe, each clad in cus­tom-made Kenzo suits.

These ex­tra au­tumn dates were an­nounced when Byrne’s UK run in June sold out. As with those ear­lier con­certs, he’ll per­form songs from his solo back cat­a­logue, his ca­reer with Talk­ing Heads and from the ac­tual Amer­i­can Utopia al­bum, out ear­lier this year.

“Up­lift­ing” was a con­stant de­scrip­tor of the gigs from rock crit­ics and fan re­view­ers alike, with one say­ing the “show pro­vides a space in which to dance and sing to­gether, to recharge our­selves and find worth­while relief from the atroc­i­ties hap­pen­ing in the world out­side of the venue, while si­mul­ta­ne­ously ad­dress­ing them”.

That’s quite an un­usual thing to say about a con­cert, but David Byrne is quite an un­usual man.

Amer­i­can Utopia is Byrne’s first solo al­bum in 14 years (the last was 2004’s Grown Back­wards) but his other projects are so nu­mer­ous, you won­der how the 66-year-old found the time.

A poly­math since his col­lege days, in the past decade alone he’s writ­ten and pro­duced plays, ex­hib­ited his art and pho­tog­ra­phy, col­lab­o­rated and toured

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