Classic Rock

David Byrne


Manchester Arena

Ex-Talking Head on “jaw-dropping” form.

When David Byrne discovered he was enjoying a Leonard Cohen-style autumnal spike in his live audiences, how did the Old Master of lateral-thinking quirk-rock respond? By putting together the most innovative, ambitious and exuberant spectacle of his post-Talking Heads career. Indeed, this all-singing, all-dancing, jaw-dropping show may be the 66-yearold post-punk legend’s greatest ever.

Framed by a curtain of beaded chains, Byrne first appears on the bare stage clutching a plastic brain for the (literally) cerebral opening number Here. But the silver-haired pop professor is soon up on his bare feet and bouncing around with 11 singer-dancer-musicians, all in matching grey suits. The next two hours turn into an impeccably choreograp­hed high-energy carnival, mixing newer material with percussion-heavy reworkings of vintage Talking Heads songs including an explosivel­y funky Burning Down The House and a euphoric Road To Nowhere.

This audio-visual marathon ends with a sweatsoake­d Byrne and band performing Janelle Monáe’s anti-racist protest song Hell You Talmbout. A salutatory reminder that this multi-racial, gender-inclusive celebratio­n was partly conceived as a statement against Trump’s divisive reign. One quibble: most of this tour packed all-seater venues with audiences who were desperate to dance. There’s life in this post-punk icon yet, but plenty of energy in his fans too.

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