Link to our Facebook
Link to our Instagram

Live Review: David Byrne & St Vincent

17 January 2013 | 1:45 pm | Kate Kingsmill

"But it does seem as though some people have come to pray at the altar of Talking Heads."

Resplendent in black with white suspenders, all awkward charm and dance moves, David Byrne is everything you'd expect. At 60, an age when many others have lost their musical mojo, he is as far from stale as fresh can be. His collaboration with St Vincent, aka Annie Clark, and the resulting album Love This Giant, was one of the most intriguing of 2012, and expectations for their first Melbourne show were high. But from the moment they take to the stage, along with the awesome eight-piece brass band, drummer and keyboard player, they totally deliver. 

They launch straight into the angular brass-pop of Who, from Love This Giant, and while that album is the main source of material, they also draw from both artists' back catalogues throughout the night. Both idiosyncratic performers with strong individual styles, together they are totally sympatico. Clark's sweet and strong vocals weave beautifully with Byrne's trademark sharp and cold delivery.

The entire show is carefully choreographed, which makes for great theatre. The brass-heavy arrangements make the band work hard – all 12 performers move in preordained formations around the stage for the entire two hours. During one number the entire band, including Byrne, perform lying on the floor, with Byrne only popping his head up to sing the odd word. He is in his element, relishing the wry, quirky humour of the performance.

The atmosphere continually shifts. Outside Of Space And Time is melancholy and ethereal, I Should Watch TV, which Byrne dedicates to the Murdoch family (he also dedicates a song to the Cern Hadron Collider) is a hectic pulsating throb. The Forest Awakes is sonically frenetic and claustrophobic, while the brass band slowly encroach on Clark as though they are about to engulf her.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

Clark tells how she first heard Byrne's music in Revenge Of The Nerds at the age of three and was immediately captivated. They launch into the Talking Heads song she heard that day: Burning Down The House. At one point Byrne begins to explain, awkwardly, that he and Clark have recorded an album together. “They must know that,” quips Clark. “It would be pretty weird if they were here and they didn't know that.” But it does seem as though some people have come to pray at the altar of Talking Heads. The biggest audience responses are reserved for the Talking Heads numbers, including This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) and the final song of the night, a spectacular, brassy rendition of Road To Nowhere, which inspires a double standing ovation.