Toronto - 10.29.2008

Rock's Renaissance Man

Toronto - 10.29.2008

Postby Changed Haircut on October 30th, 2008, 8:10 am

Toronto - Massey Hall - Oct 29, 2008


Strange Overtones,
I Zimbra,
One Fine Day,
Help Me Somebody,
Houses In Motion,
My Big Nurse,
My Big Hands (Fall Through The Cracks),
New Song (*Never Thought*??? Mentioned "pages of books being full", etc.)
The River,
Crosseyed & Painless,
Life Is Long,
Once In A Lifetime,
Life During Wartime,
I Feel My Stuff
+ Encores:
+Take Me To The River,
+The Great Curve
++ Air,
++ Burning Down the House
+++ Everything that Happens

Banter... Talked about how things could change, how to the South, many people believe this may soon be true, (alluding to upcoming elections & possible Democrat success), many cheers, DB says that we should all go to Buffalo & vote, they won't even notice (!) -- also nice introduction talking about working with Eno, Mentioned how Burning Down The House wasn't part of the original plan, but a marching band in San Francisco taught them how to play it, so it was included afterall! So much enthusiastic applauding, shouting, calling for encores & so forth all through this show... David Byrne & entourage seemed to be modest & flattered and happy to take it all in.

Dancers were amazing... 1st appearance in second song, I Zimbra, great choreography, including hilarious interaction with backup singers, with dancers repositioning mics, holding mic stands for backup singers who lay down on floor, etc. I Zimbra as hypnotic as ever.

Sometimes DB would have great interplay with dancers, too, stepping aside to let one dash through, letting one leapfrog over his back, or, occasionally, joining in on a routine while playing guitar... All excellent stuff!

Help Me Somebody was transformed, with DB remarking how at the time, he & Eno used "Found Vocals" for Bush Of Ghosts, which have now become "Samples", which will one day become "Something Else". But, to my surprise, David Byrne performed the vocal samples himself, with all the conviction of the original, turning the song into something else completely... Instead of what might be viewed as esoteric, heady, ironic, pretensious, whatever... Now it was a full-fledged song with lyrics that, rather than straight samples, were learned-interpretive lyrics, inserted into the song like they belonged there from the beginning, rather than an experiment to match "found vocal" samples to accompanying music. It became soulful, to a degree, with the backup vocals turning in a rich, heartfelt gospel performance to some of the lines. This song, out of all the songs performed, I would say was the most transformed & re-interpreted.

After the 5th song, (Houses in Motion), there was an extended (2 minute?) applause which seemed to catch the whole band & DB by surprise... Only the 5th song! -- He introduced the dancers at that point, just to tire out the audience! Of course, the performance of the song was sublime... DB falling backwards into the dancers arms while doing one of the vocal shout/murmers... The band playing up a storm, backup vocals in full effect, dancers leaping to and fro... So fine...

-- Loved how the players interchanged parts and instruments & how the backup vocalists picked up acoustic guitars & shakers for some songs, danced for others, stayed in place for some, and shifted all the way through. --

Big Hands Fall Through The Cracks... Just love that he played this one... Sounded pretty different to me, but still very recognizable... Talked about working with Twyla Tharpe & "lots of other people"... Glad the Catherine Wheel was represented... Sorely underestimated album, that one... Also very excellent interpretive dance for this one... One dancer smoking with hands kind of shaking as if being shocked... all of the dancers & DB exchanging quirky/sproingy moves.

Heaven: suddenly just 2 acoustic guitars, 1 drum, DB+guitar & no extra percussion or back-up singers or dancers... Just a simple, effective, stripped down to powerful basics performance...

Compare against other songs where 11 people are on stage, dancing, bounding, playing, singing & filling in every space imaginable...

Such a good ebb & flow to this concert!

New song... talk about "filling up pages" of books? DB said he hoped it would be on an album soon. Pleasant song, but can't remember much of it now, a few hours after the fact.

Crosseyed & Painless: Another favourite, performed very well, indeed... Missed the two-note echo part on the keyboard, the hook in the song that was strangely absent, but it didn't stop the performance of this song from being strong & enjoyable... The rap in the song was still in full effect, too.

- The "Life" Trilogy... - Life Is Long, Once In A Lifetime, Life During Wartime -

Like Stop Making Sense had the big suit, living room lamp & such-like, this show had the entire band seated for "Life Is Long", 3 dancers + David Byrne in swivel chairs, twirling around & doing interpretive pantomime to the song. A seemingly lazy song, a seemingly lazy performance, but compelling & imbued with subtle layers of meaning.

Once In A Lifetime featured fluid dance, at times it looked like the dancers were underwater!

Wartime, excellent. Band shrunk down a bit for this one, but still a magnificent, fully realised, solid version.

I Feel My Stuff might be my favourite from the new album, and it was almost more majestic live. The lighting, choreography & overall build to the song was incredible... More of the weirdness lurking within the arrangement was brought to the fore, and as a closing song before the encores, it worked perfectly... Here's a new song, talking about how "I come back stronger", that holds up to all that came before it... Captured the band, the dancers, the lighting troupe, the collaboration between Eno/Byrne 2008 all at the height of their powers & unapologetically --ends-- the show (pre-3-encore) with a new classic rather than an old tried & true one. A cunning move that shows the strength & confidence of this lineup, tour, concept & idea... A testimony to how although the songs of Eno & Byrne & Talking Heads were great in 1979-1981/2; now it is 2008 and indeed, 'Everything That Happens Happens Today' & that is a good thing deserving of an encore in itself.

River/Curve... Close to how they were on the albums... Again, an almost euphoric feeling over the audience, band, performers, building, scene.

So happy to hear "Air" again. A faithful & fantastic rendition.

DB expained how Burning Down The House wasn't part of the original plan, but was part of god's plan (was that what he said??!) & how the band had learnt it from a marching band in San Francisco. The reaction to this song was ecstatic, as could be expected.

Everything That Happens featured all backup vocalists, dancers & the bassist on supporting vocals, en masse, alongside David Byrne, who was doing the main vocals. It was a nice way to close the set, with all members of the ensemble on stage, contributing to the music-making.

A brief attempt was made for a 4th encore, but the house lights came up & the 20-song limit for this tour was reached...

A special time, nonetheless. A concert to remember. Just unbelievably wonderous...
Changed Haircut
Little Creature
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Joined: October 30th, 2008, 6:46 am

Re: Toronto - 10.29.2008

Postby Anthony on October 30th, 2008, 5:33 pm

I had the unbelievable experience of actually meeting David Byrne yesterday in downtown Toronto. I was standing outside OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design) waiting for a friend for lunch, when this man passed me on a bicycle going around the corner. I only got a quick look at him but knew immediately the resemblance to Byrne was striking, so when he stopped along the sidewalk I walked over and asked him if he was David Byrne, and sure enough he was. Honestly I can't remember what exactly I said to him because I was so stunned and in awe but I shook his hand and expressed my excitement for the show that night, he seemed genuinely happy that I was looking forward to it so much. Needless to say this was an amazing thing for me, meeting one of my musical heroes so randomly on a sidewalk, before I was able to see him preform that night for the first time in my life.

And needless to say the show last night was incredible, the energy from the band translated to the audience and everyone was having an awesome time.
Little Creature
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Joined: October 30th, 2008, 5:25 pm

Re: Toronto - 10.29.2008

Postby labrador on October 31st, 2008, 5:22 am

I'm just back today from Toronto where I caught the concert last night (I flew there
from Halifax just to see the show, and no I'm not rich, just crazy).

Amazing concert and experience.
There are several things I remember about it that amazed me.

1. Mark Degli Antoni on keyboards. The things he added really held the music
together - from organ style to sequencing and whatever else the laptop is
capable of doing for the keyboards. In my opinion this sounded better than
what I've heard before from recorded live Talking Heads shows (truer
to the studio version). I'm sure the advances in technology helps,
as I'm unfairly comparing 1980's to today.

2. Ages of people in the audience were all over the map.
In front of me was a young woman about 18. In front of her was a man of about 60.
I'm in my forties. This was to be seen everywhere. Some people looked like
serious school administrators or something of the sort. Never would have
guessed they would be in there shouting "Burning Down the House" with everyone!

3. Talking Heads songs are what people know well and sing and dance to. Toronto
audience loved:
Life During Wartime
Houses in Motion
Crosseyed & Painless
Once in a Lifetime
Burning Down the House

There is no doubt in my mind that while people like David's own stuff, they really
like the Talking Heads.

4. Switching roles - keeps it fresh. The backing vocalists did some choreographed
dancing. Mauro Refosco (percussion), Steven Reker (dancer) and
Redray Frazier (BG vocals) played acoustic guitar on a few pieces.

BB member "Changed Haircut" referred to the song Burning Down the House.
The remark that they learned it in San Francisco was a joke. This piece is actually from
Speaking in Tongues. There are several videos on You Tube showing Byrne's
band playing with the "Extra Action Marching Band" in recent tours.
Look it up and you'll get what he is referring to. I interpretted it as a
joke to explain why they are playing this piece, while the Speaking in Tongues
album is outside of the Byrne+Eno formula of the rest of the songs of this tour.

In the dark, when the room was quiet, one audience member said in
a normal tone of voice: "Thank you, David". That sums up our feelings
very well. Many of us had waited decades to heard pieces like
"Air" done live.

That's it for now. I need some rest...
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Joined: October 31st, 2008, 4:37 am
Location: Canada


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