INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
The Age FEBRUARY 11, 2009 - by Andrew Murphett
BYRNE DISHES UP A DIVERSE, SATISFYING MENU
Hamer Hall, State Arts Centre, Melbourne, Australia
After a brief but demure announcement encouraging donations to the Red Cross bushfire appeal, David Byrne began his show on Monday with a small caveat.
"This is a set menu," he said firmly, as much to ward off pesky fans who would holler requests or those who more quietly held expectations of hearing a hit-laden set from Byrne's commercial peak with the band Talking Heads.
"Can I have the entree, then?" shouted one mischievous fan.
Monday's frequently thrilling and sometimes mystifying two-hour show was about Byrne's musical relationship with producer, Brian Eno. They recently released an album, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, a belated sequel to their work together on 1981's My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts and three Talking Heads records.
So there was no Psycho Killer or Road To Nowhere, but a thorough and satisfying wander through Byrne's musically diverse career.
Opening with a track from the new album, Strange Overtones, Byrne introduced a dynamic, sprightly band comprising drums, percussion, keys, bass and three vocalists.
Like Byrne himself, anybody who appeared on stage was dressed in a slightly disconcerting all-white uniform.
The most bizarre element of the night was three lively and skilful interpretative dancers who appeared sporadically through the show. They added an occasionally positive visual element to the show.
They acted out lyrics and performed complicated dance routines that often involved Byrne himself, and he appeared energised by all of the activity around him on stage.
It was difficult not to notice that he has surrounded himself with a noticeably younger band of musicians and dancers. He sometimes came across as a loveable but eccentric music professor.
A spirited Life During Wartime late in the main set had the crowd on their feet; likewise for Once In A Lifetime and Take Me To The River.
Three encores perhaps leaned a little obscure, but this was an absorbing and entertaining musical menu.