Still Making Sense

Talking Heads have been gone for nearly ten years, but David Byrne effortlessly evoked their spirit at the Olympia last night…

Talking Heads have been gone for nearly ten years, but David Byrne effortlessly evoked their spirit at the Olympia last night, coming onstage wearing a fuzzy pink suit and resurrecting a bunch of tunes from the Heads' brilliant career. The man who once led Talking Heads on the road to who-knows-where has never stopped moving, and his solo career has seen him travel from Brazilian polyrhythms to lofty New York art-rock, but it's the avant-garde post-punk of Once In A Lifetime which grabbed the crowd's attention right from the off.

Byrne stayed in this funky nostalgia vein for Making Flippy Floppy and Slippery People, bringing us back to the days of Stop Making Sense and reminding us just how influential Talking Heads were to the dance music scene. By the time he eased into newer songs like Gates Of Paradise and Daddy Go Down, changing into a skyblue Elvis suit along the way, the loose-limbed tone had been well and truly set.

Byrne may be in a bit of a commercial limbo at the moment, caught between the rapid flux of rock and the relentless mutation of dance, but he knows how to dodge in and out of different genres while keeping his sharp eye firmly fixed on what he wants to say. He still possesses an inquisitive musical mind, and a drum 'n' bass-flavoured interlude, featuring some nifty Theremin wailing, suggested that David Bowie is not the only old rocker who is keeping up with current trends. There were other surprises, like the track from My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, Byrne's 1981 collaboration with Eno, and Big Blue Plymouth (Eyes Wide Open), from Byrne's own soundtrack to The Catherine Wheel. The biggest surprise, however, came when he donned a kilt and danced merrily through Dance On Vaseline, This Must Be The Place and Take Me To The River.

Byrne has always dissected and dismantled his own self and arranged the fragments into various musical and visual collages, but now he seems to be trying to piece his soul together by revisiting key career landmarks. So it's no surprise to hear the homeyearning This Must Be The Place or the life-affirming Road To Nowhere, and when he dons a sinewy, anatomical costume for a retooled Psycho Killer, it makes almost perfect, twisted sense.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist