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Byrneing Down the House

David Byrne
Centennial Hall
Tucson, AZ
April 15, 2018
David Byrne
David Byrne
David Byrne
David Byrne
David Byrne
David Byrne

Review and photos by Frances Sealy

David Byrne is currently on tour supporting his new daring album American Utopia, his first true solo album in 14 years. He had a triumphant appearance at Coachella the day before his Tucson show. The venue was moderate sized and had a totally different ambiance when compared to the Coachella show. The tour is going full force with appearance across the U.S., Canada and Europe through October.

Perfume Genius opened the show and it proved to be a perfect fit for what was to come from Byrne. Perfume Genius is the stage name for solo artist Mike Hadreas. Hadreas had a drummer and guitarist supporting him. The most memorable thing about the set was Hadreas' body movements and contortions. That was not a bad thing because one could not stop watching him. His music addresses subjects of homophobia, domestic abuse, and sexuality.

Byrne followed with a near two-hour concert masterpiece. Byrne is touring with an 11-piece band with mobile instruments. This is much like a marching band without the stale sound of many marching bands. There were six percussionists. Bobby Wooten played bass guitar. Angie Swan played guitar. Byrne occasionally played guitar. The rest of the instruments were harnessed on the bodies of the players. This allowed for the extreme mobility that each member had to have. Karl Mansfield played keyboards. Aaron Johnston played snare drum with a high hat attachment. Chris Giarmo was Byrnes right hand singer and dance man. The band was able to shift from rock to funk to an array of Latin and African music styles. Everything was done with extreme precision.

The show was all about the music. Byrne took the stage in a gray, muted color suit and bare foot. All of the players were barefoot except two were wearing socks. Nothing was going to distract the audience from the music. There were ten songs from American Utopia. The rest of the 21-song set was primarily Talking Heads classic songs. "Once in a Lifetime" and "Burning Down the House" got the most applause and sing-a-long. After the opening song "Here," the bulk of the crowd was up and dancing. The Talking Heads songs were re-arranged with dance rhythms that made the songs sound very fresh and inviting.

The final encore was Janel Monae's "Hell You Talmbout." Byrne updated the song with permission to reflect today's events. It is a lament about senseless killings and a call to action.

The show takes "art-rock" to the limits giving the participant the most amazing live music experience possible. The box-like set had a minimalist appearance on first look consisting of a small table, chair and a plastic plastic human brain. There are no instruments. However, the show managed to be a bonanza for all human senses even though the stage was bare.

Byrne worked with choreographer Annie-B Parson to create the dance art portion of the show. There were no fixed points on the stage. One wrong move could have created a disaster. Everything was spot on.

All performers including Byrne constantly changed position on stage and sometimes off stage. The configurations of the performers were always in flux. The lighting changed. The music changed.

Byrne is known to be very charismatic. There was very little banter during the set. At one point early in the show Byrne mentioned that they had partnered with 'HeadCount,' an organization that registers people to vote. He emphasized the importance of local elections. "Local elections may make a bigger difference than ever before."

American Utopia is an experience that should not be missed. That goes for both the casual Byrne fan or a Talking Heads fanatic.
Set List:
1. Here
2. Lazy
3. I Zimbra (Talking Heads song)
4. Slippery People (Talking Heads song)
5. I Should Watch TV (David Byrne & St. Vincent cover)
6. Dog's Mind
7. Everybody's Coming to My House
8. This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) (Talking Heads song)
9. Once in a Lifetime (Talking Heads song)
10. Doing the Right Thing
11. Toe Jam (Brighton Port Authority cover)
12. Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) (Talking Heads song)
13. I Dance Like This
14. Bullet
15. Every Day Is a Miracle
16. Like Humans Do
17. Blind (Talking Heads song)
18. Burning Down the House (Talking Heads song)

Encore 1:
19. Dancing Together
20. The Great Curve (Talking Heads song)

Encore 2:
21. Hell You Talmbout (Janelle Mon‡e cover)

Related articles:

David Byrne Concert review - Milwuakee, WI October 2008
David Byrne Concert review - Chicago, IL May 2001
Interview with ex-Talking Head and Tom Tom Club's Chris Frantz December 2002
Talking Heads - Chronology DVD Rreview
David Byrne - Feelings Album review

David Byrne
David Byrne
Perfume Genuis
Perfume Genuis
David Byrne
David Byrne
David Byrne
David Byrne
David Byrne
David Byrne
David Byrne
David Byrne
David Byrne
David Byrne
Perfume Genuis
Perfume Genuis

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