Even while sporting a headset microphone while rocking a suit and sneakers combination, David Byrne was the peak definition of cool. It is a calculated cool, with Byrne teaming up with the masterful Annie Clark, aka St Vincent, for a meticulously choreographed tour of their joint album of last year, Love This Giant. The setlist entailed a deft mix of both artists solo work, plenty of Love This Giant, and choice selections from the Talking Heads back catalogue.
St Vincent is a superstar. She made her Melbourne debut last year touring her third LP Strange Mercy, with those tracks now emboldened by an eight-piece brass section. Marrow was breathtaking, and Northern Lights rocketed to a dizzying level of greatness. Byrne proved to be a dutiful backup singer/dancer during the St Vincent tracks. He joined the majority of the band while they performed Cheerleader while lying on the stage floor (special mention to the sousaphonist for smoothly getting horizontal while wrapped in a hefty amount of brass).
Both of tonight’s stars possessed idiosyncratic dance moves – Annie with her shuffling-while-shredding, and Byrne with his iconic stilted-yet-grandiose shape-pulling. Byrne showcased this best during This Must Be The Place (Naïve Melody), the first of three Talking Heads songs performed tonight. “Love me till my heart stops, love me till I’m dead.” It was unmitigated bliss.
Byrne-Eno collaboration Strange Overtones shone in the live environment, with Byrne’s vocal performance tonight exceeding the studio version infinitely. Byrne’s solo number Like Humans Do was a sheer delight. Dedicated to the Murdoch family, Love This Giant selection I Should Watch TV was intensified with robotic strobes.
After the first standing ovation, the band returned for the delightfully jaunty Cruel (from Strange Mercy). The first encore was preceded by Annie’s recount of first hearing Byrne’s work at the age of three, when she heard Burning Down The House featured on Revenge Of The Nerds. This set the scene for that track’s performance, and it indeed brought down Hamer Hall.
Another standing ovation. Another encore. Another one-two of St Vincent (The Party) and Talking Heads (Road To Nowhere). Then another standing ovation.
There was a noted change in atmosphere on the second night. Word had spread about the first performance, and people knew to expect greatness. There were more emphatic cheers, more dancing in the aisles, more intense demands for an encore. Two nights, six standing ovations. Just perfect.
BY LACHLAN KANONIUK
LOVED: Marrow into This Must Be The Place. Incredible.
HATED: That there were only two Melbourne performances.
DRANK: Not much.