David Byrne 2018 Poster
David Byrne Setlist
Benjamin Clementine Setlist
05/24 - Seattle, WA - Paramount Theater *
05/25 - George, WA - Sasquatch Festival
05/27 - Portland, OR - Keller Auditorium *
05/28 - Eugene, OR - Hult Center *
05/30 - Salt Lake City, UT - Capitol Theatre *
06/06 - Chicago, IL - Auditorium Theater *
06/2 - Chicago, IL - Auditorium Theater *
06/3 - Chicago, IL - Auditorium Theater *
06/5 - Des Moines, IA - Des Moines Civic Center *
06/7 - Kansas City, MO - Kauffman Center *
06/8 - St. Louis, MO - Peabody Opera House *
06/9 - Indianapolis, IN - Farmers BureauAmph*
06/14 - Oxford, England - New Theatre **
06/15 - Glasgow - Glasgow Royal Concert Hall **
06/17 - Birmingham - Birmingham Symphony Hall**
06/18 - Manchester - Manchester Apollo **
06/19 - London, England - Hammersmith Apollo **
06/20 - London, England - Hammersmith Apollo **
06/23 - Prague, Czech Republic - Metronome Festival
06/25 - Zagreb, Croatia - INmusic Festival
06/26 - Wien, Austria - Museumsquartier
06/27 - Berlin, Germany - Tempodrom
06/30 - Ewijk, Netherlands - Down The Rabbit Hole
07/3 - Paris, France - Days Off Festival
07/5 - Gdynia, Poland - Open'er Festival
07/6 - Roskilde, Denmark - Roskilde Festival
07/8 - Werchter, Belgium - Rock Werchter
07/11 - Cascais, Portugal - Cool Jazz Festival
07/13 - Bilbao, Spain - Bilbao BBK Live Festival
07/14 - Barcelona, Spain - Cruilla Barcelona
07/17 - Zürich, Switzerland - Theater 11
07/19 - Ravenna, Italy - Ravenna Festival
07/20 - Perugia, Italy - Umbria Jazz Festival
07/21 - Trieste, Italy - Piazza Unità
07/27 - Camden, NJ - XPoNential Music Festival
07/28 - Washington, DC - Merriweather Post Pavilion *
07/29 - New York, NY - Panorama Music Festival
07/31 - Boston, MA - Blue Hills Bank Pavilion *
08/1 - Boston, MA - Blue Hills Bank Pavilion *
08/3 - Toronto, ON - Sony Center *
08/4 - Toronto, ON - Sony Center *
08/5 - Canandaigua, NY - Marvin Sands Center *
08/7 - Cleveland, OH - Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica*
08/8 - Grand Rapids, MI - Devos Performance Hall *
08/10 - Detroit, MI - Fox Theater *
08/11 - Huber Heights, OH - Rose Music Center *
08/12 - Cincinnati, OH - PNC Pavilion at Riverbend *
08/16 - Oakland, CA - Fox Theater ~
08/17 - Oakland, CA - Fox Theater ~
08/18 - San Jose, CA - City National Civic ~
08/21 - Sacramento, CA - Community Theater ~
08/22 - San Francisco, CA - Bill Graham Civic Center ~
08/24 - Santa Barbara, CA - Santa Barbara Bowl ~
08/25 - Los Angeles, CA - Shrine Auditorium ~
08/27 - Morrison, CO - Red Rocks Amphitheater ~
08/28 - Morrison, CO - Red Rocks Amphitheater ~
09/7 - West Long Branch, NJ - OceanFirst Bank +
09/8 - Wallingford, CT - Oakdale Theatre +
09/9 - Albany, NY - Palace Theatre +
09/11 - Merrill Auditorium - Portland, ME +
09/15 - Queens, NY - Forest Hills Stadium +
09/17 - Brooklyn, NY - Kings Theatre +
09/23 - North Charleston, SC - N. Charleston Ctr+
09/26 - Jacksonville, FL - Florida Theater +
09/28 - Orlando, FL - Dr. Phillips Center +
09/29 - Miami Beach, FL - The Fillmore +
09/30 - Tampa, FL - Mahaffey Theater +
10/06 - Dallas, TX - Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie
~ w/ Ibeyi
+ w/ Tune-Yards * w/ Benjamin Clementine
# w/ Lisandro Aristimuño
% w/ Juana Molina
$ w/ Karina Zeviani
@ - w/ Mexico Institute of Sound
^ w/ Perfume Genius
** w/ Laura Mvula
For two nights, the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Minneapolis was home to a performance of musical utopia, as David Byrne returned for two energetic and jubilant shows, proving this was his house- and everybody was coming to his house.
The evening began with a generous fifty-minute set (that played more like a continuous theater piece) from enigmatic (i.e.- he did not allow any photos) London singer-songwriter Benjamin Clementine, who recently re-located from the UK to France to Topanga Canyon and released his second full-length, I Tell a Fly (Behind Records/Barclay) in late 2017.
The 2015 Mercury Music Prize-winning Clementine is gifted with an unforgettable voice of dynamic range described as a spinto tenor (meaning “pushed” – one who can handle the operatic weight of large musical climaxes) and his opening set was part performance, part performance art, with the multi-instrumentalist sticking to piano, dressed in a straw hat and blue work jumper that matched his guitarist’s, as a bald pregnant female mannequin draped in a US flag, stood at center stage with various doll parts strewn around her.
Clementine would wander about, eventually making a boy from the doll parts laid about and as he sang, he often soared, in a somewhat haphazard but often brilliant manner, slicing through the music like how the modern painter Basquiat would approach a canvas. From his recent stay in California, Clementine also told the story of encountering a large snake, and learning the lesson that the good will sometimes imitate the bad, just to feel safe.
The stage was completely cleared and a beaded curtain framed the floor area as David Byrne took his place at a bare table, quizzically holding a brain while singing the opening lines of ‘Here’ (“here is a region that is seldom used, here is a region that continues living”) to begin his hundred-minute headlining set.
As the set progressed, Byrne (in a dapper grey Kenzo suit with three jacket pockets on each side) was joined gradually by his eleven-piece standing band, dressed similarly- half being primarily percussionists and two primarily dancers, the musicians with their instruments strapped to them so they could move untethered in tandem with the songs.
Byrne is in support of his first solo studio album in fourteen years, American Utopia (Todo Mundo/Nonesuch Records) which is the musical component of his larger project, Reasons to Be Cheerful, something that chooses to spread positivity at a time when it’s sorely needed.
Talking Heads songs ‘I Zimbra’ and ‘Slippery People’ were played early on and back-to-back, the first of eight Heads songs that got even the most lethargic out of their seats and dancing in the aisles and for ‘I Should Watch TV’ (a collaboration with St. Vincent), Byrne was drawn to an ebbing light from side stage as the players danced around him.
Byrne briefly spoke about his partnership with Head Count, who had a table in the lobby registering people to vote before starting the album’s lead single, ‘Everybody’s Coming to My House’, a song (helped on the record by Brian Eno and Sampha) that recalls the joyous best work of his former band, following that perfectly with the Talking Heads classic, ‘This Must be the Place’, then stumbling and jerking about as only he could, for a signature ‘Once in a Lifetime’.
Byrne remains in fine shape and voice, staying active with gesturing movements for most of the set and having no problems re-creating the melodies of songs, some over forty years old. “Everything you hear is being played by these incredible musicians” Byrne reminded us, dispelling any myths of backing tracks or pre-recordings, with Milwaukee guitarist Angie Swan particularly standing out on several songs.
The somberness of the new album’s ‘Bullet’ was quickly juxtaposed by the ever-hopeful ‘Every Day is a Miracle’, expertly followed by 2001’s ‘Like Humans Do’ and the 1988 Talking Heads song, ‘Blind’, both recalling the monkey on the cover of the band’s final album, Naked. Byrne smiled as he briefly missed the guitar opening for the main set-closing ‘Burning Down the House’, with the sold-out crowd on their feet and singing along.
For the encore, Byrne dipped back into 2010’s ‘Here Lies Love’, about the Philippines’ Imelda Marcos for ‘Dancing Together’ (its lyrics derived from her direct quotes), then way back to 1980’s classic Remain in Light for the ‘The Great Curve’, as the band moved more frantically about the stage to keep up with the fast rhythms.
“Sadly, it’s still relevant today” Byrne said of the highly percussive cover of Janelle Monae’s ‘Hell You Talmbout’ a protest song that would compose the second encore. Its lyrics consisted chiefly of chanted names of black Americans killed by police and vigilantes, with Byrne updating those names (w/Monae’s blessing) to include even Philando Castile, shot and killed in July 2015 in nearby Falcon Heights.
Despite the heavy subject matter to end the night, the set did end on a passionate and powerful note and a true artistic statement of the times, that has always helped define Byrne’s musical vision and we should expect no less.
At the age of sixty-six, this was a David Byrne still at the height of his powers, presenting a show that played as a musical utopia in a uniquely minimalist yet complex staging that makes this one of the very best shows of the year.
(click on any photo below to enlarge and see full image)