Friday, October 24, 2008

Same As It Ever Was

David Byrne - The Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno
23 October 2008: Allen Theatre at Playhouse Square, Cleveland, Ohio

Before samples were called, well... samples, David Byrne and Brian Eno took what they referred to as "found voices" and pieced together the My Life in the Bush of Ghosts experimental sound collage. Almost 30 years later, they have gotten back together, this time producing Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, an album with a self-described "electronic Gospel" tone. On the back of the new collection of songs, Byrne is touring, and he's pulling from both of their collaborative albums, along with their Twyla Tharp dance project soundtrack The Catherine Wheel, and the three Talking Heads albums Eno produced: More Songs about Buildings and Food, Fear of Music, and Remain in Light.

Songs like "Strange Overtones", "The River", "Home", and the fantastic title track worked beautifully alongside Talking Heads classics like "Heaven", "Crosseyed & Painless", "Once in a Lifetime", "Life During Wartime", "Take Me to the River", and my personal favorite, "I, Zimbra!" Before closing the final encore with a great rendition of "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today", Byrne surprised the crowd with the non-Eno Talking Heads hit, "Burning Down the House".

If there is one thing David Byrne knows, it's how to put on a show. Stop Making Sense is the single greatest concert video ever produced. As it unfolds, it logically moves from one song to the next, weaving unrelated songs into a coherent image. And Byrne's influence was obvious last night in the Allen Theatre at Playhouse Square. The performers, all dressed in white from head to toe, were choreographed to the colored lights and spotlights.

Being in Cleveland's theatre district was appropriate, given the theatricality of the show Byrne offered up. The stage would go dark after each song, like the end of a scene. And like all great theatre, this show was most definitely participatory! Outgoing souls were dancing in the aisles throughout most of the show, but it was the multiple encores where the Allen was rockin'! Everyone was grooving from the front row to the rafters. And just shy of two hours after Byrne's troupe of musicians and dancers took the stage, they departed, leaving the audience satisfyingly spent and dancing out into the cold Cleveland night.

Also, be sure to check out Dave Purcell's great comments on both the Devo and David Byrne shows at Radio Free Newport and Byrne's first-hand account of his day in Cleveland.

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