DAVID BYRNE, at the Phoenix, May 8. Tickets: $25. Attendance: 900. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
it might have been the first night of his big world tour, but aside from a few flubbed notes and the fact that lyrics from his new Look Into The Eyeball disc were taped to the floor, David Byrne was the picture of composure Tuesday.
Moved at the last moment from Lee's Palace to the Phoenix, the show was a perfect reflection of Byrne's state of mind on his elegant new disc. Uptight and awkward pop flailings are out in favour of a more relaxed swing through global pop and Talking Heads standards, free of gimmicks and ridiculous fuzzy pink suits. Even Byrne's lurch through Whitney Houston's I Wanna Dance With Somebody had an easygoing swing to it.
What's remarkable is that for a musician of Byrne's stature, with a phone book that reaches into the deepest corners of Brazilian Tropicalia, Colombian folk music and Cuban son, he still insists on playing with a band of studio players. Aside from a handful of string players from the TSO, Byrne's pickup band rarely meshed with his own enthusiastic playing.
When your pals in Los Amigos Invisibles and Bloque are just a phone call away, using hired guns is inexcusable.