09/27/2012 11:18 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

David Byrne and St. Vincent: You've Never Seen a Show Like This

A Park Avenue matron went blind, recovered her sight, and asked Diana Vreeland to show her what she'd missed.

Mrs. V took her to see Deep Throat.

When the movie started, the matron screamed. "You've been blind for five years, Cora," Mrs V. explained. "But why not show you something you've never seen in your whole life?"

That's what you'll feel as you stagger out of your evening with David Byrne and Annie Clark (who performs as "St. Vincent"). My wife and I thought Byrne's concert with Caetano Veloso a decade ago was top-10 epic. It was. But this show -- just as theater, this blows everything away. In your life, you have never seen anything like it.

Picture Byrne as a study in black and white (including saddle shoes) Clark as a sylph in a black dress and heels, doing odd, stutter-step dance moves as they sing.

Now imagine what's behind them: six musicians playing trombones, trumpets, tubas and other horns, two saxophonists, one drummer. Their music is powerful as a fist.

But music is only the start of what they do. They strut; they're a New Orleans street band. They make formations; they're a college marching band -- "a stoned marching band," someone said -- taking the field at half time. They circle Byrne and Clark; they're line dancers. And for 90 minutes, they never stop.

"Love This Giant," the CD that inspired the tour, contains 12 original songs. They're plenty challenging; this isn't Talking Heads with brass. Expect to be confounded; Byrne sings songs Clark wrote and vice versa. And the instrumentation makes no concessions to pop music as we know it. Background music? I can't picture that home.

But it would be cruel if the show didn't get to Talking Heads; by the end of the evening, it does. Ready? Watch this:

Does the crowd go wild? Oh yeah. Screaming. Stomping. Whistles. Cries for more. Do Byrne and Clark react? Barely. But then, they never touch, never look at one another. They're parallel partners; all the intimacy is in the music, and the music isn't intimate. What it is: thought out. Every step, every gesture, every note -- the Byrne-Clark tour is more choreographed than anything you'll see at the ballet. The video gives you a hint of the artifice.

But the play's the thing. If you can possibly see this concert, you must. It's not just the proverbial feast for the eyes and ears, it's an adrenaline rush. Sitting there -- and then standing and screaming -- you feel more and more awake. And smarter: I filled pages with notes. Seriously, if you have to eat ramen for a week... do it.


Here's tour/tickets info:

SEPT 29 Brooklyn
SEPT 30 Bethesda
OCT 2 Nashville
OCT 3 Atlanta
OCT 5 Austin
OCT 6 Houston
OCT 7 Dallas
OCT 10 San Diego
OCT 11 Santa Barbara
OCT 13 Los Angeles
OCT 18 Portland
OCT 20 Vancouver

cross-posted from