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David Byrne: Same As He Never Was.

220px-David_Byrne_2006David Bryne is brilliant. That’s not news to anyone who has been a fan during his Talking Heads days or the 20+ years since. He is now sixty years old, so he could be excused if he lost a few miles per hour off his musical fastball. Others have. Not David Bryne.

For those less familiar with his work, here’s a snapshot of his background:

David Byrne (born May 14, 1952) is a Scottish-born American musician and artist, best known as a founding member and principal songwriter of the American new wave band Talking Heads, which was active between 1975 and 1991. Since then, Byrne has released his own solo recordings and worked with various media including film, photography, opera, and non-fiction. He has received Grammy, Oscar and Golden Globe awards and been inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Byrne-time magThat’s not too shabby a list of accomplishments, including having been featured on a cover of Time magazine in 1986, shown here.

It is said us mere mortals use only a small percentage of our brains. Bryne has found a way to use the rest of his. I have worked with many brilliant creative people throughout my earlier advertising career, and I always admired those who are able to create non-derivative ideas. It’s a skill I wish I had. While I am humbly a far better than average linear thinker; I nonetheless pale when I need to deviate too far from the norm. David Bryne creates on a plane I can’t even comprehend, leaving me in a “how did he think of that” stupor.

David Bryne is on tour currently with St. Vincent. I saw them perform in Philadelphia on September 28th. I didn’t know who St. Vincent was before the show. I had no clue—read no reviews and did no homework. I will see David Bryne perform anything in any medium on face value alone. What I learned is that St. Vincent is a talented singer/guitarist named Annie Clarkand she and Bryne played with a band that featured 8 horns. Pretty horny to me.  They recently created an album called Love This Giant. Byrne and St. Vincent (Clark) performed their solo material, material from Love this Giant and a few Heads standards.

The set list was as follows:

Who
Weekend in the Dust
Save Me From What I Want (St. Vincent)
Strange Overtones (Byrne)
I Am an Ape
Marrow (St. Vincent)
This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) (Talking Heads)
The Forest Awakes
Optimist
Like Humans Do (Byrne)
Lightning
Lazarus
Cheerleader (St. Vincent)
Lazy (Byrne)
I Should Watch TV
Northern Lights (St. Vincent)
The One Who Broke Your Heart
Outside of Space and Time

Encore 1:
Cruel (St. Vincent)
Burning Down the House (Talking Heads)

Encore 2:
The Party (St. Vincent)
Road to Nowhere (Talking Heads)

I went to the concert hoping to hear lots of Talking Heads tunes, heard just a few, but left amazed at the creativity of David Bryne, and wanted to learn many of the new songs I just heard for the first time.

All Talking Heads fans crave a “reunion tour”. That probably will never be. Even if it were to happen, I suspect that unlike fading super groups of yesteryear, he wouldn’t create a “nothing but the hits” show. That’s because he’s David Bryne– same as he never was.

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One Comment

  1. Kel Smith says:

    I got to meet him in 1990. Interesting guy – didn’t say much and was visibly uncomfortable, except when a favorite topic came up (native music of Brazil really got him going). We share a birthday, which is probably a bigger deal to me than it is to him.

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