Talking Heads tribute band mesmerized the sold-out crowd for well over two hours and far surpassed my expectations.
Opener: Radio Underground
This local outfit got the festivities started by performing Velvet Underground’s Loaded in its entirety. Not only did they open some eyes to this terrific music, but they played the songs straight and true to the originals and were up to the task. Clearly having a blast doing it, their excitement to have so many people paying attention was obvious. Their depiction of “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’” was incredible and left us all wanting more, but also more than ready for Start Making Sense.
Headliner: Start Making Sense
When it comes to tribute bands, I have a rule: not interested unless the band being imitated is either disbanded beyond hope of a reunion, or dead. Talking Heads, having been broken up for nearly 30 years, are clearly not getting together again. David Byrne didn’t participate in the first reunion tour, it’s safe to say he isn’t going to suddenly change his mind now that he is in his late 60s and widely respected for his solo work. So, being the total Heads nerd that I am, I quickly grabbed tickets for Mom (still in town as luck would have it) and Lovely, and even convinced a few friends to get duckets as well. Good thing, because apparently there are plenty of Heads-Heads out there, this Olympic set sold out.
Granted, this was not as amazing as seeing David Byrne, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth, and Chris Frantz in their early-80s prime would’ve been (duh), but it sure satisfied. It required seven people to do, but this group really did a masterful job of replicating that magical Talking Heads sound. The lead singer (complete with the requisite gray suit) nailed David’s vocal delivery and many eccentricities, facial expressions, and dance moves – including the famous running in place on “Once in A Lifetime” and laying on the ground during “Life During Wartime”. Although she didn’t play bass, the gal nailed her “Tina” vocals and dances, and crushed it on their cover of Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love”.
In order to get that world-music sound full of funky percussion, we had a drummer behind a standard kit as well as another guy going to work on bongos, snares, and tambourine. The keyboard work was excellent throughout, and they even sounded great when three members briefly left the stage and they attacked us with only guitar, bass, and drums.
These guys seem to really enjoy their work, and before they started, we were told “take your vitamins, do some stretching, do what you need to, we have lots of music to play for you”. That was not a lie, and they mixed in deep cuts with all of the hits one would expect to hear during the 24-song set. Their first four songs got things started in tremendous fashion: “Thank You For Sending Me An Angel”, “Slippery People”, “And She Was”, and “Making Flippy Floppy”. From that point on, they had me (and the rest of the very engaged crowd) in the palm of their hands.
After band introductions were done before the last song (a ten-minute jam of “Crosseyed and Painless”), the lead man mentioned that he couldn’t recall ever selling out a venue on their first visit, and thanked us profusely for showing up and providing so much energy. He also thanked Talking Heads for making the incredible music they get to spend their days touring and playing. Amen to that.
This was about as fun and carefree as I have ever felt at a concert, and a quick shout-out to Mom, who made it up front standing with the crazies for well over half of the show before retreating to a more peaceful area (and a chair). Quick shout-out to my man Dan, singing and jumping along with me for most of the evening – what a blast!
Thank You For Sending Me An Angel
And She Was
Making Flippy Floppy
The Great Curve
Stay Up Late
Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)
Sugar On My Tongue
Life During Wartime
Wild Wild Life
Road To Nowhere
What A Day That Was
This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)
(Nothing But) Flowers
Once In a Lifetime
Burning Down the House
Genius of Love (Tom Tom Club cover)
Girlfriend Is Better
Take Me to the River
Crosseyed and Painless
Spotify set playlist link: https://open.spotify.com/user/1217400912/playlist/77xg7CGrZaGavDdGWh0mPP?si=yn3HANIRRzWZylZzbnXZiQ
My “Best of Talking Heads/David Byrne” Spotify playlist link: