Everything that happens…

I wouldn’t by any means call myself a die-hard David Byrne fan. But today’s concert at Koningin Elisabethzaal was absolute greatness, no question about it. The subtitle of the tour is “Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno”, and that was the material for the evening. Brian Eno was unsurprisingly not present (he never does concerts from what I know). But his presence was very much felt; in the music, and also in the look of his fans. It was a veritable convention of balding guys with shaved heads in pleasant understated clothes. I suppose I’m mentally fourty years old and balding for enjoying the show, but I can live with that.

The lineup consisted of Byrne, a bassist, a keyboardist, two, drummers, three backing vocalists and three dancers‚ all decked out in all-white clothing.

David Byrne if anyone is an incongruous character in his tuft of white hair. His short inbetween speeches were endearingly confused – but when he got to the singing it was full-on evangelist preacher prescence. Adding to this, he moved around stage constantly while playing, and gracefully too. All the movement on stage indeed seemed part of an integrated choreography. At one point one of the dancers dived between Byrne’s legs, later the same guy leapfrogged over Byrne’s back while he was playing a guitar solo. Delicious. The interaction between the musicians and the dancers was on the whole rather nicely ironical in tone.

Someone has described what Eno did with the Talking Heads as “attempting to create the sound of a western band playing african pop music”. This effect is still present, another important point of reference for the sound would be gospel music, something that especially has influenced David Byrne.

The show started out with the single from the new Byrne and Eno album Everything that Happens Will Happen Today; “Strange Overtones”, and what followed was a selections of songs particularly from that album, and the older Talking Heads material. Byrne also did two songs from the classic “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts” (that album has a rather nice website with community-created remixes); these were interesting because the found vocals of the original album were now instead sung by him and the backing vocalists.

The audience was suitably enthusiasmed, and got as many as three separate encores. The crowd pleaser “Burning Down the House” was performed with the entire band wearing ballet tutus. and the show ended fittingly with “Everything that Happens”. The 49 € weren’t by any means wasted.

I already linked to the album site; but here it is again for good measure. You can download “Strange Overtones” for free. Here’s a link to a video for one of the songs from My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, that does some clever things with typography.

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