INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Boston Herald NOVEMBER 2, 2008 - by Brett Milano
HEAD HUNTERS FIRED UP BY DAVID BYRNE
Can we talk about David Byrne doing a show of Talking Heads material without using the line "Same as it ever was"?
Probably not, but that's the good news. At Friday's show at Citi Wang Theatre, Byrne's band wasn't the same as the Talking Heads; the arrangements were fresh and a batch of new songs were in the mix. But the spirit was the same: a spirit of emotional connection and giddy creativity that's been missing from too much of Byrne's solo career.
The occasion was Byrne's recent studio reunion with UK experimentalist and Heads/U2 producer Brian Eno; and the show was billed as The Songs of Byrne and Eno. The reclusive Eno was not onstage (he hasn't stepped on one since 1974), but his influence was felt in rich layers of textured keyboard and percussion.
Songs from the new collaborative album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today were scattered through the set. While they were subtler than the Heads' songs and lacked the trademark cross-rhythms, they worked on a different level. It's a secular gospel album that uplifts with graceful melodies.
But the real news is that Byrne unearthed a batch of rarely placed Talking Heads songs, not just essentials such as Life During Wartime, Crosseyed And Painless and Burning Down The House, but a few deep tracks - the paranoid Air, the swirling Great Curve - that haven't been played since the Heads' demise.
Three dancers joined the band onstage, a move that could have looked precious, but wound up conjuring the art-party atmosphere of the Stop Making Sense era.
Byrne's skittering guitar work was another link to those Head-y days, but his voice is more flexible now. A more athletic, gray-haired look suits him well, and he burst into wide grins numerous times, something that never happened in the old days.
The only thing missing was the Heads members themselves. The band was never mentioned onstage and Byrne tellingly called the Heads songs "ones that Brian Eno and I did with some other musicians." It's no secret that grudges are the only thing keeping the Talking Heads from reuniting. But now that Byrne is reconnecting with his greatest songs, it's a shame he can't also bury the hatchet with his greatest band.