Review | David Byrne & St. Vincent | The Capitol Theatre
Words by: Chadbyrne Dickens
David Byrne & St. Vincent :: 06.29.13 :: Capitol Theatre :: Port Chester, NY
“Strange overtones, though they’re slightly out of fashion, I’ll harmonize, I see the music in your face, that your words cannot explain.” -David Byrne
The Capitol Theatre has a lengthy and impressive history of iconic acts that have graced its hallowed hall over the years. Unfortunately, Talking Heads broke up in 1991 before ever playing the Port Chester, New York venue. However, with his appearance on Saturday, June 29th, with pop-indie princess St. Vincent, we can add quirky and creative master David Byrne to the list of can’t-miss shows that have taken place at The Cap. Through voice, movement, lyrics and music, Byrne once again proved to be an inventive and insightful visionary. Although his work with Talking Heads remains the apex of his legacy, his work with ingénue St. Vincent, aka Annie Clark, is his freshest in years. The show is part operatic in its inspiration and part vaudeville.
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Byrne has been relentless with his creative endeavors recently. He released his critically-acclaimed novel, How Music Works, in 2012 and his musical, Here Lies Love, opened on Broadway in April. Though it’s his work with St. Vincent that has garnered the most positive attention. The St. Vincent/Byrne teaming was conceived at a Bjork collaboration event with the band Dirty Projectors in 2009. The show’s organizers suggested they work together. They are currently on the third installment of a massive tour in support of their Love This Giant record that dropped last fall. Just before this leg of the tour commenced, the duo released a free EP, Brass Tactics, that contained original compositions and a unique take on Talking Heads classic “Road to Nowhere.”
To open the concert, the stage was bare except for numerous lonely instruments adorning it on the ground. Eventually, the 10-piece band, which includes a professional brass section and a sousaphone player, picked up their instruments and the artistic and styled experience commenced with the complex inquisition “Who.” The song is emblematic of the Byrne/St. Vincent partnership as they alternate vocal styles -Byrne ‘s quirky and strong authoritative approach is distinctly juxtaposed with St. Vincent’s smooth half-whisper. A further highlight of Clark’s vocal prowess is how dutifully her background vocal acumen fuels a deeper needed flare and feminine nuance to classic Byrne solo numbers like “Strange Overtones” and the diatribe about our everyday behaviors in “Like Humans Do.” Clark possesses a rock star persona and not only has “a face with a view,” but exudes a sexual aura as personified with her prancing which was reminiscent of the girls from the Robert Palmer videos.
Naturally, the most crowd adulation was fostered by the Talking Heads covers. However, die-hard fans may have been disappointed as no deep cuts from the their catalog were played like “Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town” or “Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)” but rather only a few safe hits. One of the most respected love songs of all-time, “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” (as immortalized in Demme’s epic 1986 concert film Stop Making Sense) stirred up the otherwise shockingly staid and generally mesmerized sit-down crowd. Once the calypso rhythms started pounding, the inventive and clever song permeated love and showcased why many consider Byrne to be a genius. The band on stage engaged in synchronized and meticulously choreographed dance moves. During some songs they were robotic, others frantic and the entire band wound up lying on the ground as Clark sang “Cheerleader.” Clark and Byrne’s ensemble proved exuberant and entertaining while they played and continued to march in a full-on conga line during “Wild Wild Life” before Clark praised, “I’d like to thank David Byrne…for being David Byrne.” The extra layer of sound provided by the powerful brass fills provided a new dimension of auditory excellence to the classics: one could relish in the euphoric moment, knowing that the Talking Heads will likely never reunite, and they didn’t have a brass section, so one was witnessing a rare treat. The North American tour finally concludes at the end of July before proceeding to Europe.
At 61, Byrne may look like more of a father figure to the 30-year-old Clark than a contemporary, but if he keeps creating such quality creative music for future decades, fans may just continue to love him until his heart stops -love him til he’s dead.
Set List: Who, Weekend in the Dust, Save Me From What I Want, Strange Overtones, I am an Ape, Marrow, This Must Be the Place, The Forest Awakes, Ice Age, Like Humans Do, Lightning, Wild Wild Life, Lazarus, Cheerleader, Lazy, I Should Watch TV, Northern Lights, The One Who Broker Your Hear, Outside Space and Time, Encores: Cruel Play, Burning Down the House, The Party, Road to Nowhere
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