Gig review: David Byrne


BACK in the early 1980s, Dumbarton-born Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and progressive production ace Brian Eno practically invented ambient music as we know it with their album, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.

The ambience at this concert, formally titled "David Byrne sings the songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno", was one of rapturous celebration, with the capacity crowd, including some members of his family, treating Byrne like a homecoming hero. He seemed quite taken aback by the warmth of the reception, in his own eccentric, professorial kind of way.

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Although Byrne and Eno have collaborated again on current album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, their connection goes far deeper. Eno presided over a trio of classic Talking Heads albums – More Songs About Buildings and Food, Fear of Music and Remain In Light – which represent the band's purple period, so the potential setlist for this show was tantalising.

Byrne and his band made an instant impact, clad uniformly in white, and his inherent sense of theatre was swiftly brought into play by the unexpected appearance of a trio of hip young dancers whose kinetic display was intended as a visual representation of the found sound samples in the original recordings. At times, the choreography strayed close to kids' music-and-movement territory but, overall, their interaction with Byrne and the backing singers added an extra dynamic to the lithe switches between funky Afrobeat grooves such as Houses In Motion and elegant mellifluous ballads such as Heaven.

The opportunity to imitate the dance moves from Once in a Lifetime proved irresistible, while Burning Down the House was rendered with the entire ensemble in tutus. Yet, despite such playful touches, this was a serious display of idiosyncratic talent.