At 60 years old, you might guess David Byrne is slowing down. Guess again. The enigmatic and adventurous frontman (formerly of Talking Heads fame) proved to be as pitch-perfect and spry as ever during his Thursday-night stop at the Arlington Theatre. Better still, he did it all alongside Annie Clark, one of rock’s most dexterous (and stunning) modern-day guitar heroes.
Backed by a 10-piece band that included eight brass players, Byrne and Clark wove their way through a set that hit all the marks; we got boisterous Talking Heads classics (“This Must Be the Place [Naïve Melody],” “Burning Down the House”), icy St. Vincent staples (“Cheerleader,” “Marrow”), and the majority of the songs on the pair’s recent collaboration, Love This Giant. Say what you will about Byrne and Clark in album form, but live, the pairing is nothing short of incendiary. Following in the footsteps of Byrne and The Talking Heads, Thursday’s show came equipped with all manner of modern dance moves, stunning lighting schemes, and propulsive percussion. For “The Forest Awakes” the group stepped and shifted across the stage, mimicking the automation of cogs in a machine. Later, “Lightning” found the band casting dramatic shadows across the Arlington’s expansive backdrop to stunning effect.
Not surprisingly, the night’s highlights came by way of Byrne, who conducted the dance-y counterpoints to Clark’s more tense turns at the mike. But these great David Byrne moments also showed up in stranger places, like the smiles flashing across his face as he mouthed the lyrics to Clark’s “Marrow” from the sidelines. These two artists seem to have found kindred spirits in each other, not to mention a collaborative muse that delivers, big time.
2. “Weekend in the Dust”
3. “Save Me From What I Want” (St. Vincent)
4. “Strange Overtones” (David Byrne and Brian Eno)
5. “I Am an Ape”
6. “Marrow” (St. Vincent)
7. This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)” (Talking Heads)
8. “The Forest Awakes”
9. “Ice Age”
10. “Like Humans Do” (David Byrne)
13. “Cheerleader” (St. Vincent)
14. “Lazy” (David Byrne and X-Press 2)
15. “Northern Lights”
16. “The One Who Broke Your Heart”
17. “Outside of Space & Time”
18. “Cruel” (St. Vincent)
19. “Burning Down the House” (Talking Heads)
20. “The Party” (St. Vincent)
21. “Road to Nowhere” (Talking Heads)