Undercover FEBRUARY 10, 2009 - by Paul Cashmere


David Byrne has brought his Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno show to Australia. The very title of the tour may have scared off the fringe fans but to the die-hards, you knew you were in for one great mix of old and new.

Brian Eno produced albums two through four for Talking Heads. During Byrne's solo career, they collaborated on My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts (1981), several tracks from The Catherine Wheel (1981) and last year's Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.

The tour set-list serves up an equal balance of the old and the new and the new sits well.

The Eno/Heads albums were More Songs About Buildings And Food (1978), Fear Of Music (1979) and Remain In Light (1980). (Remember when acts used to release an album every year and actually generated a fan base? That is why today's bands don't have fans but we still go to see David Byrne).

Rounding up songs from those Talking Heads albums meant Byrne had four of Talking Heads' greatest achievements to source from. They were in the set: Take Me To The River, Life During Wartime, Once In A Lifetime and Crosseyed And Painless.

In fact, there was a good selection from the Talking Heads formative years. They were the albums that built the band. Remain In Light made them the legendary group they are known as today.

But a David Byrne show is not just about songs. Art school student Byrne gives as much attention to the visual as he does to the set-list. Everyone on stage was dressed in white, including Byrne, the band and the dancers.

Dancers? Ah, yes, this is New York art school circa early-'70s Byrne is sourcing from. The dancers Steven Reker, Natalie Kuhn and Lily Baldwin were as much a part of this show as the band members. Byrne is also part of the well-choreographed performance darting around the members as they dart around him. But that has always been a Byrne show, even back in the Talking Heads days.

I cannot rave about this show enough but at the same time I would love to see a Talking Heads reunion.

The brand name David Byrne does not have the same currency as the brand name Talking Heads. The pay-off for the fans is that we get to see these songs in an intimate venue with the solo show. Talking Heads would command a big ticket price and big venues.

The last time David Byrne, Tina Weymouth, Chris Franz and Jerry Harrison performed together as Talking Heads was in 2002 for their induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

Talking Heads officially broke up in 1991. Their last recording was Sax And Violins for a best-of album. The last studio album was Naked (1988).

I doubt we will see a Talking Heads reunion soon, if ever, although they are always asked about it.

The Eagles got back together; The Police did one for the road. Let's hope a Talking Heads reunion does happen one day.

But until then, a David Byrne show is essential viewing.