Words by Audra Tracy | Photo by Patrick Lacey
It’s Saturday night at Count Basie Theatre, and you can hear the sound of birds chirping inside. A small table and chair sit center stage. The only prop on display is what appears to be a replica of the human brain, basking in the spotlight.
Clearly, David Byrne was here tonight, kicking off the first show of his highly-hyped American Utopia Tour. Best known as the frontman of new wave icons Talking Heads, Byrne brought a new batch of quirky tunes to the streets of Red Bank, New Jersey.
In the months leading up to the American Utopia tour, Byrne revealed that this would be ‘the most ambitious show’ he’s done since the wildly innovative Stop Making Sense film – so fans were ready for pretty much anything during the night’s maiden voyage in the Garden State.
Not unlike the pace of Stop Making Sense, the show began on simple terms, and slowly built up to a ball of seemingly unstoppable energy. At show time, Byrne sat alone at the table, just he and his fake plastic brain. Three walls of shimmering beads began to slowly rise up around him, and, one by one, his ‘untethered’ band members joined the mix for the opening number, “Here.”
There were no amps, monitors, or wires in sight – each member of the band was free to work the stage ‘marching-band style’, circling Byrne as he showed off his signature flailing dance moves through Talking Heads classics like “I Zimbra”, “Slippery People”, and “The Great Curve.”
Catchy new material off American Utopia, including “Everybody’s Coming to My House” and “I Dance Like This”, also wowed the crowd, but to be honest, this ultra-talented group of musicians could probably tear the house down playing “The Wheels On The Bus”, too.
In 90 minutes, Byrne’s debut proved that you don’t need flashy technology to put on a mesmerizing show in 2018. Instead of relying on LCD screens or smoke and mirrors, Byrne & Co. employed a minimal yet haunting combination of lights, shadows, and meticulous choreography to highlight the actual humans on stage.
Some things sure can sweep me off my feet…
Here (Live Debut)
Lazy (X‐Press 2 cover)
I Zimbra (Talking Heads song)
Slippery People (Talking Heads song)
I Should Watch TV (David Byrne & St. Vincent cover)
Dog’s Mind (Live Debut)
Everybody’s Coming to My House (Live Debut)
This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) (Talking Heads song)
Once in a Lifetime (Talking Heads song)
Doing the Right Thing (Live Debut)
Toe Jam (Brighton Port Authority cover) (Live Debut)
The Great Curve (Talking Heads song)
I Dance Like This (Live Debut)
Bullet (Live Debut)
Every Day Is a Miracle (Live Debut)
Like Humans Do
Blind (Talking Heads song) (First Performance since 2005)
Burning Down the House (Talking Heads song)
Dancing Together (Live Debut)
Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) (Talking Heads song)
Hell You Talmbout (Janelle Monáe cover) (Live Debut)
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