It’s no secret that David Byrne’s tour in support of his new solo album American Utopia (released via Nonesuch Records) is one of the years must-see experiences. But it’s one thing to see the unique experience via photos and fan recorded footage and to experience it first hand. For the uninitiated, Byrne’s performance is one that is both totally unique and different and also beautifully simple. He found a way to give a performance that is full of constant motion but also at its core just stripped down to the essentials of live music: sound, sight and emotion.



The stage of Forest Hills was surrounded by chains and a light design that gave the stage a box like presence for the performers to roam. With the rising of a curtain, the show began with Byrne sitting on a table front and center with a prop brain that he held and used during the opening performance of “Here,” where he was soon joined by two backing singers/dancers. The band only grew with the second song, “Lazy,” where the lineup now featured 11 members in total, with six members only percussive instruments. The beauty of it all is that all of the instruments are wireless, allowing the musicians, all barefoot and dressed in the same matching grey suits as their fearless leader, were free to roam the floor and engage in some wild choreographed dance moves through the show.

While the concept is refreshingly simple by design, the way it all unfolded was a thing of a beauty to watch on unfold and gave me one of the best concert-going experiences of the entire year. At 66 years old, Byrne remains as creative and unique an artist as ever, truly deserving every bit of the artist title that gets thrown around all too freely these days.

The two hour show featured a career-spanning set of his work, from all The Talking Heads classics such as “”This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody),” “Burning Down The House,” and “The Great Curve,” from more recent solo work and collaborations, such as “I Should Watch TV,” from his team-up with St. Vincent. With such great tunes and motivation to move around just like the performers, this older crowd at Forest Hills Stadium were bursting out of their seats with a shared energy that saw fans of all ages dancing freely with their family and friends without a care in the world. This isn’t something you see all the time when you go see an older artist that draws and older crowd, which speaks to the power of Byrne and this highly energized live performance.

The night ended on a powerful night during the second encore, which saw the band (joined by Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs) cover Janelle Monáe’s “Hell You Talmbout.” As Byrne put it, this song is still as timely and relevant as ever and it sent us home with a powerful message that hit home and like so much of what came before, gave us something to think about.

If you have a chance to catch the American Utopia tour while it’s alive and running in this current incarnation, I urge to you grab a ticket and allow yourself to be swept away.

Find a full gallery of photos from the performance posted below, along with the setlist.

David Byrne setlist:

1. Here
2. Lazy
3. I Zimbra (Talking Heads song)
4. Slippery People (Talking Heads song)
5. Dog’s Mind
6. I Should Watch TV ([avid Byrne & St. Vincent song)
7. Everybody’s Coming to My House
8. This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) (Talking Heads song)
9. Once in a Lifetime (Talking Heads song)
10. Doing the Right Thing
11. Toe Jam (Brighton Port Authority song)
12. Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) (Talking Heads song)
13. I Dance Like This
14. Bullet
15. Every Day Is a Miracle
16. Like Humans Do
17. Blind (Talking Heads song)
18. Burning Down the House (Talking Heads song)

Encore:

19. Dancing Together
20. The Great Curve (Talking Heads song)

Encore 2:

21. Hell You Talmbout (Janelle Monáe cover) (with Merrill Garbus)

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