Monday, January 21, 2019

David Byrne @Bonnaroo: Heaven

Posted by teibs On June - 13 - 2009

davidbyrne1@andlaurasays David Byrne is the ultimate showman. A lone figure of rock genius, he has been an immoveable boulder in the turbulent and ever-changing waters of the music business, constantly reinventing himself, his
music, and his live act.

When planning which shows to go to at my first Bonnaroo, he was one of those artists I refused to miss. And obviously I was not alone in my determination.

Although Mr. Byrne was pitted against the powerhouse beats of The Beastie Boys last night, he still drew a large crowd of deeply devoted fans who expressed their love for him unabashedly, swaying and happily singing along with the man in white. Not many other musicians who had a popular band twenty-five or so years ago can lay claim to that kind of undying love.

Mostly playing songs from his latest album, Everything That Happens
Will Happen Today
co-created with electro music innovator (and god)
Brian Eno, a cotton-clad Byrne stood center stage, guitar in hand,
backed by a big band, back-up singers, and a group of professionally
trained dancers pirouetting around the stage behind him with complex
choreography for each song.

Everyone was dressed in white. I thought I died and went to heaven. Sometimes Byrne would join in the fun, hopping and spinning along with his ensemble of players, and the audience’s adoration grew even more.

Now I love the new album, don’t get me wrong, but when he started
playing Talking Heads songs, particularly “Once in a Lifetime” and
“Take Me To The River,” one could plainly see what makes Byrne so
relevant and evocative.

He’s been playing these songs for twenty-something years now yet when I heard the intro keyboard part for “Take Me To The River,” it was like I’d never heard it before. It was fresh and it was sweet.

That’s what keeps people coming back and begging for more, and he packs it all into what can be said as an all-out performance piece rather than just any old concert. He is no graying has-been rock star, but a mature and worldly artist who has seen bands come and go, and knows how to succeed in this business to a T.

My only complaint, an unfortunate deal breaker when it comes to
shows, was the sound. Byrne began the show with an opening monologue
of sorts (to keep with the theatre references) but no one past the
first few rows heard him. When David says it, it must be important,
and I was disappointed that something so easy to fix prevented me from
having a near perfect concert experience. 

Other than that minor fluke, it was a wonderful show and when next David Byrne and Co. come rolling through your town, I plead with you to see him. It’s once in a lifetime. It’s Heaven. 9.2/10

3 Responses

  1. Derek Said,

    I was there as well, and it was AMAZING! I’ve never seen a concert like that before, it was easily the best show of the weekend and one of the top three shows I have ever been to! David Byrne has the greatest stage presence I’ve ever seen.

    Posted on June 15th, 2009 at 10:48 pm

  2. Dylan Said,

    Just wanted to drop by to tell you what Byrne said at the beginning of his set. I don’t have a direct quote for you, but it was a humorous little monologue about how he welcomes everyone to take pictures (using whatever technology they would like), but he and the other performers request that you delete all the bad ones. You are right, it gave people in the first few rows a little chuckle, but I don’t think those towards the back hear it. One of the main problems with ‘Which Stage’ is the sound. I showed up early, knowing full well that the best audio is directly in front of the soundboard. The problem with Which Stage’s sound is that there is a beer tent immediately behind the soundboard (which is only about 20% of the way into the crowd). These factors, coupled with several trees in the middle of the field, and muddling from ‘This Tent’ and the main stage, make ‘Which Stage’ an audio nightmare.

    Posted on June 16th, 2009 at 2:17 pm

  3. danny Said,

    Absolutely outstanding. Possibly my favorite of all Bonnaroo. I never fail to be impressed by David Byrne.

    Posted on July 18th, 2009 at 1:03 pm

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