Byrne-ing Down the House 

Live at the Greek Theatre, 6/26.

There's often a convergence of different age groups at shows of performers who have enjoyed lengthy careers. Sometimes, it can be awkward. Try lighting a joint at a Pearl Jam concert only to notice you are in the presence of many young children who have accompanied their middle-aged, formerly grunge parents. David Byrne's show at Berkeley's Greek Theatre on Friday, June 26, was no exception. The singer-songwriter treated the age-diverse crowd to mostly Talking Heads favorites as well as the best of his latest album with Brian Eno, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.

Byrne's music isn't easy to describe. While the man himself is almost too bizarre, his poetic recitation of lyrics and exaggerated pitch is really the only oddball element to his songs. The most akin musician that comes to mind is post-Genesis Peter Gabriel, minus five to ten pounds of pomp and circumstance. Byrne's performance at the Greek certainly followed suit. While he needed neither lasers nor smoke machines to transform the stage, he let subtle elements present his point of view without jamming it down your throat. The simple act of dressing himself and his accompaniment all in white was a nice touch.

No one should be surprised by the fact that Byrne now employs a trio of contemporary backup dancers. Granted, the 57-year-old solo artist looks like he's in great shape, but his days of body noodling and forearm chopping are probably numbered. Why not hire a small army to do thy kinesthetic bidding? In all, it was a great choice. Byrne was still very involved with the physical element of the show, even with the jogging-in-place routine for "Life During Wartime." If anyone ever saw Stop Making Sense, you know what I'm talking about and have probably said to yourself, "Bummer. I will never see anything like this live." Wrong. Byrne's show was absolutely thrilling and refreshingly classic. At several points, it seemed the audience had forgotten their age differences, what year it was, and how white Byrne's hair has gotten. They sang the words Same as it ever was and became the lyrics themselves. Byrne's ability to transcend niche and era is the stuff of truly great music.


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