David Byrne: Awesome Show

-->David Byrne & Devotchka
The Greek Theater
Berkeley, CA
June 26, 2009
David Byrne: Awesome Show
David Byrne promised to perform Euripides at the outset of his performance on Friday night at the Greek Theater in Berkeley but instead played what very well may have been the concert of the year in the Bay Area. It was a beautiful warm night under a cloudless sky. The exceptionally talented band played a generous set that was engaging and fun. All ingredients were perfect for a wonderful night of live music.
The night was billed as an evening of songs by David Byrne and Brian Eno. David Byrne is, of course, the musical genius behind the cerebral and quirky 1980s band, the Talking Heads. And Brian Eno is, of course, one of the all-time great musical producers having previously worked with the Talking Heads, U2, Coldplay, Paul Simon, David Bowie, just to name a smattering of the enormously successful artists that he has guided to musical prominence. .
Before Byrne took over, Devotchka played an entertaining opening set. Devotchka has received lots of critical praise for their unique Balkan-gypsy-folk musical stylings. They sound straight outta Sarajevo but they are actually from Colorado. Go figure. They were the perfect opening act for an audience of David Byrne fans and received an enthusiastic response, but, as much as I enjoyed them, I’m not sure that they will go much further. How many rock bands are there with Sousaphone-players keeping the bass? Although I find their studio offerings a little stiff, they were definitely fun live and I will probably go see them again.
At 57 years old, David Byrne is still wiry and energetic. He and his entire band, including his dance troupe, wear clad all in white and the Greek Theater was frequently backlit in primary colors to great visual effect. The You Tube is already littered with videos of varying quality from the concert, see links below. The dance troupe tread the line between corny and cool and, in the final analysis, I think, were probably unnecessary because the music was just so good. Almost every song was right on the money and the crowd was extremely enthusiastic and never took their seat from the opening song. There were several very long ovations after classic hits that clearly surprised Byrne. Although Byrne was front and center throughout the concert, I cannot say enough about his band that showed great chemistry, artistry and energy. True professionals.
The highlights (most of these vids were probably shot with cell phones, so sound quality is not what we heard at the show which was absolutely first-rate): Heaven, Houses in Motion (the best song of the night, the crowd cheered for 5 minutes after this song, to which even Byrne responded ‘Wow’), the classics Life During Wartime, Once in a Lifetime and Burning Down the House.
The first encore began with Take Me to the River. I think, myself, along with half the crowd initially thought that the band was going to play Michael Jackon's Billie Jean. The opening bass lines of both songs are very similar, but on reflection it may have been wishful thinking because of a wager earlier in the evening that there might be some kind of tribute.
The second encore began with the Extra Action Marching Band, also clad in white, marching through the crowd and on to the stage to join Byrne for Road to Nowhere and Burning Down the House at which point there was a large white balloon drop (balloons make a party) and a mosh pit broke out in front of the stage. Chaos ensued.
A great night of music.

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