MORE DARK THAN SHARK - FEATURE
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
SONGS OF DAVID BYRNE AND BRIAN ENO
Byrne and his band at Hamer Hall, State Arts Centre, Melbourne, Australia. Reviewed by radiocitizen.
FEBRUARY 9, 2009: David Byrne and his seven-piece band - all of them dressed in white - made their appearance to warm applause at the State Arts Centre this evening. Before beginning the musical part of the show, Byrne made an announcement regarding the bushfire appeal for the victims of the unfolding tragedy in the state of Victoria...
While the concert-goers seemed to enjoy the show well enough (although many were probably unfamiliar with the newer material), it wasn't until the eighth song of the night, Heaven, that things really moved to a different level...
Towards the end of the set, Byrne told the audience that he had "asked the ushers for permission, and they say it's OK for you to dance in the aisles...", which they duly proceeded to do in the usually staid and conservative surroundings of Hamer Hall. From then on, a funky party atmosphere prevailed, peaking with the first encore, a scorching delivery of Take Me To The River. The presence of up to three dancers, and Byrne's participation in some nifty moves, helped to heighten the sense of energy onstage and in the audience, tonight a mainly older sampling of entertainment seekers.
The excellent band gave solid support throughout and with help from his crack back-up singers, Byrne's arrangements were a nice take on Eno's stacked vocal harmonies that were such a feature of One Fine Day and other tracks on Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. Other highlights included I Zimbra, Crosseyed And Painless, Once In A Lifetime and... well, the whole whole concert! In fact, Byrne's treatment of the Talking Heads material almost made me forget my dreams of a reunion tour with his old bandmates. Almost...
I thought that it was only on the last song of the night, Everything That Happens, that Byrne and his band's performance failed to live up to the standard set by the original LP/CD versions. Not that it was 'badly' done (exactly the opposite, in fact) - it's just that, for me, nothing can quite match that part of the track when Eno, in his best 'stellar' voice, sings: "Oh my brother, I still wonder, are you alright? / In the deepest silence, gold and diamonds, all through the night..." and then the soaring title refrain as the song fades to its ending. Those have to be amongst the most beautiful moments of recorded music of the past few years.
For this gig, a selection from More Songs About Buildings And Food, Fear Of Music, Remain In Light, The Catherine Wheel and My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts as well as Everything That Happens Will Happen Today blended together beautifully into a mixture of old and new songs that - as all the clapping and cheering indicated - surely left most punters well-satisfied at the end of the final encore. My only disappointment - apart from the no-show of Eno in full feather-boa regalia and perhaps Robert Fripp to lend a hand on lead guitar - was the absence of the lovely Home from the set-list, a song Byrne has performed regularly on this tour. But that's not really a complaint - more a wish that the show had lasted a little longer so as to experience a few more live Byrne/Eno songs for the first time...
Set-list: Strange Overtones / I Zimbra / One Fine Day / Help Me Somebody / Houses In Motion / My Big Nurse / My Big Hands (Fall Through The Cracks) / Heaven / Never Thought / Poor Boy / The River / Crosseyed And Painless / Life Is Long / Once In A Lifetime / Life During Wartime / I Feel My Stuff
1st Encore: Take Me To The River / The Great Curve
2nd Encore: Air / Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes on)
3rd Encore: Everything That Happens
Musicians: David Byrne - vocals, guitar / Mauro Refosco - guitar, percussion / Graham Hawthorne - drums / Mark Degliantoni - keyboards / Paul Frazier - bass, vocals / Redray Frazier - guitar, vocals / Kaïssa - vocals / Jenni Muldaur - vocals
Selected Reviews: DAVID BYRNE: HAMER HALL, MELBOURNE, FEBRUARY 9, 2009 by Paul Cashmere, Undercover FEBRUARY 2009 • BYRNE DISHES UP A DIVERSE, SATISFYING MENU by Andrew Murphett, The Age FEBRUARY 2009
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