Written by Samuel Barker
Sep 11, 2004 at 08:00 PM
David ByrneThis has been one of the best years of music I’ve seen in the Bayou City in a long time. David Byrne brought the entire year up a notch with his mesmerizing performance at the Cullen Theater on this night.Opening his set with Glass, Concrete and Stone followed by I, Zimba, Byrne provided seamless transition between his current solo creations and those of his former band, The Talking Heads. Even his scattering of covers, such as Lambchop’s The Man Who Loved Beer and Jimi Hendrix’s One Rainy Wish, melded together with rest of the set making one unified set of songs.

The addition of the Austin-bases Tosca Strings, many of the songs took on an entirely new sound while retaining the same structure that made them simple to recognize. Being a fan of world music, Byrne added Latin and African influences to the set without alienating those who were new to these styles of music. Rather than present the sounds in an uncomfortable context, like many of his contemporaries, Byrne brought the sounds to life in songs and textures that the audience was accustomed to.

The standout feature of the night was the complete unity of the band. Byrne and his normal backup bands came together with the Tosca Strings perfectly, providing memorable song after memorable song. Combined with the mood created by the various lighting changes, Byrne and company created something special in the confines of Cullen Theater.

Rather than be simply a performer on stage, Byrne participated in some humorous banter between himself and the audience. Due to numerous requests, Byrne gave a few observations on the future, one of which seemed to be well on its way to becoming truth with the trends of today: “In the future, all recorded music will be free of charge, but all types of live performance will be very expensive.”

After telling about he and the band’s trip to Johnson Space Station to communicate with Mike Fincke, the astronaut currently residing in the International Space Station, Byrne played the song he played for Fincke, Heaven. As I walked out of the venue on this night, I wondered if the song was right, and if this night would play out over and over after I died. Hopefully it will.