INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Chicago Tribune OCTOBER 27, 2008 - by Joshua Klein
DAVID BYRNE: WEIRD AND WONDERFUL AS HE EVER WAS
Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, credited to former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and former foil Brian Eno, is the pair's first collaboration in more than twenty-five years, but the two spent barely any time in the same room creating it, preferring e-mail to swap ideas.
Similarly, while Byrne's current tour is being billed as "The Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno", Eno decided to stay home, leaving Byrne the conduit for (mostly) an evening of current and classic Byrne/Eno material.
Yet Byrne was hardly alone at the sold out Civic Opera House on Sunday night, where he was backed by a tight band and a trio of dancers, though just about everyone danced. And Eno, while physically absent, was more than present spiritually, given the role the producer has played in much of Byrne's best work, from the late '70s through today. Certainly, Eno-related songs such as I Zimbra, Air and Once In A Lifetime were as weird and wonderful as ever, with Byrne clearly enjoying the opportunity to dust off some seldom-performed songs.
Byrne's show also served as a sort of compare and contrast experiment, with the songs of Byrne and Eno "then" set against the songs of Byrne and Eno "now," their differences and similarities often striking. The frenetic Talking Heads mainstay Houses In Motion, for example, coursed with a pure nervous energy that brought the crowd to its feet, and it couldn't have been more at odds with the sedate and oddly sanguine My Big Nurse, from the new album. But at the same time, you could easily connect the wistful mood of the latter with a Heads song such as Heaven, or the former with the frantic new I Feel My Stuff.
Byrne and band exploited these oblique connections to great effect, offering the careful optimism of new songs Strange Overtones and One Fine Day as distant complements and companions to older songs Crosseyed And Painless, The Great Curve and Life During Wartime. Byrne's voice, warmer and more welcoming than it has ever been, served as a seamless link between past and present. The nervous young man of the Talking Heads may have grown up, but the different eras of music from which he drew Sunday were very much two sides of the same coin: Byrne (and Eno) on one face, Heads on the other.