INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Boston Globe NOVEMBER 1, 2008 - by Jonathan Perry
TALKING HEADS FRONTMAN STILL BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE
It seemed only fitting that on Halloween night, David Byrne's sharp and scintillating show at the Citi Wang Theatre should be a grab bag loaded with a few tricks, and plenty of treats. Before what looked to be a near-capacity crowd, many dressed in Hallow's Eve garb for the occasion (including the guest of honor, who sported a white Phantom Of The Opera-style mask during a magnificently twitchy encore reading of Burning Down The House), Byrne delivered a two-hour show as enigmatic and adventurous as his three decades-long career.
The one-time Talking Heads frontman is touring behind a new album, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, that represents his first collaboration with old friend and Heads' producer (and ex-Roxy Music member) Brian Eno in nearly thirty years. Byrne apparently unsuccessfully tried to persuade Eno to hit the road with him, but no matter. His ten-piece band - which included four musicians, three back-up singers, and three dancers clad in white, as was Byrne - were as superb as one could have hoped. And if ever a band bounding, gyrating, and rolling around the stage could be called crisp, this was it.
Byrne, who alternated between electric and acoustic guitar, opened with Strange Overtones, one of a handful of new songs last night that featured a kinetic yet relaxed groove, and self-assured sense of place. One Fine Day was another, and it found Byrne in strong, keening voice: It was a peculiar thing, still pointedly idiosyncratic; still cut with sharp edges and unexpected angles. But the mellower, more linear new material softened, and suited, that voice intriguingly well.
Meanwhile, the older songs gleamed and glinted like timeless gems. Life During Wartime remained a chilly, shuddering treat.
The tender, piano-flecked Heaven sounded like the sweetest song The Velvet Underground never wrote. And Take Me To The River, which led off three encores, was returned to its gospel roots.
When Byrne sang, "this ain't no party, this ain't no disco... this ain't no CBGB," he was right about two of three things. The famed bowery punk club is no more. And the splendidly ornate Wang Theatre was a far cry from a grimy, beer-stained punk stage. But Byrne did bring the party - or maybe it came to him - and there was more than a little funky disco flash in the air. In short, the man was the same as he ever was: brilliant.