david byrne american utopia running time – David Byrne Concert Setlist At Jimmy Kimmel Live, Brooklyn On October 22, 2019

What is perhaps most remarkable is his ability to keep coming up new ideas that seem obvious, but obviously aren’t. And then I had to figure out how to create a space for us that would make it very clear what we had done.

david byrne broadway show – ‎David Byrne On Apple Music

DAVID BYRNEFrom his days with art-rock pioneers Talking Heads and through his solo career, David Byrne has had a keener-than-most sense of how to turn pop music into the catalyst for a spectacle — Talking Heads’ videos provided some of early MTV’s most lasting images, the band’s concert film Stop Making Sense” redefined the idea of a live album, and he’s presented his music accompanied by color guards and choirs. Shot for shot, pound for pound, you will not see many concert films that play out more like an ’80s exercise tape than Stop Making Sense. And for those of you who did not live through the ’80s, you must understand that exercise tapes were of great meaningful consequence at that time—like the Watergate tapes were in the ’70s. That too is a kind of expression of horror: The boomer-driven fitness craze of the era was the first shot over the bow in their we-will-never-die campaign. Say one generation of people smothers two generations of their offspring? What would you even call a thing like that? It’s a rock ‘n’ roll genocide.

And while the show shares a title with his latest album , songs from it make up less than a quarter of the 21-track setlist, which acts more as a selective career retrospective, reaching all the way back to the Talking Heads’ 1977 debut and spanning crowd-pleasers like Once in a Lifetime” and Naïve Melody (This Must Be the Place)” to deeper cuts like I Should Watch TV” (from his 2012 collaborative album with St. Vincent) and Toe Jam” (a relatively obscure 2009 song with grime act BPA), and even a Janelle Monae cover. However, it’s not a greatest-hits set; notable by its absence is Psycho Killer,” which is probably not a song Byrne cares to revisit at this stage of American history.

Quite some time, although… well, I love collaborating with people. And obviously there are a bunch of collaborators on this one too, but it’s more my record. For the most part, I gotta make the decisions. I’d done two musicals—musical musicals—in the intervening time, and with those, you’re writing from different character’s points of view. In some ways, this album is me. There are still some character songs, but a lot of it is me. Which is very different than the point of view of Joan of Arc…were she a pop singer. Laughs.


In late 2005, Byrne and Fatboy Slim began work on Here Lies Love , a disco opera or song cycle about the life of Imelda Marcos , the controversial former First Lady of the Philippines Some music from this piece was debuted at Adelaide Festival of Arts in Australia in February 2006 and the following year at Carnegie Hall on 3 February 2007.

Byrne recently announced the release of American Utopia during a presentation of Reasons To Be Cheerful,” an ongoing series he curates of hopeful writings, photos, music, and lectures. The presentation was given at New York’s New School to a live audience and also was streamed via his Facebook page. He also released the first track from the album, Everybody’s Coming To My House ” – co-written with Brian Eno, featuring contributions from TTY, Happa, Isaiah Barr Leader of the Onyx Collective, Daniel Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never), Mercury Prize winner Sampha, and others. The song’s visual companion piece can be seen here Everybody’s Coming To My House” is available to download instantly with pre-orders of American Utopia on iTunes and at Nonesuch Store pre-orders also include an exclusive print facsimile of an early handwritten lyric sheet to the song.

There’s no story as such, but there’s definitely an overarching statement about enduring openness, optimism and faith in humanity, even in a troubled world, that’s subtly threaded throughout, along with smoothly integrated political perspective. To sum it up in the title of one of the songs performed, “Everyday Is a Miracle.” Basically, that makes Byrne the cool Mr. Rogers.

I go to a fair amount of theater. Some of it is on Broadway, but not all of it. I did see What the Constitution Means to Me, which is exactly what it’s about. Laughs I’ve seen other theater in Brooklyn and other places that sometimes end up on Broadway.

Whether or not Byrne and his incredible troupe continue to perform this show post-Broadway, it’s crying out to be filmed. Hello, Netflix? HBO? The many critics and fans who suggested the tour might be the best live rock show of all time weren’t exaggerating. Even without the important component of the audience, capturing American Utopia on film has the potential to become a worthy companion piece to Stop Making Sense, Jonathan Demme’s 1984 Heads concert film, which remains the genre’s gold standard. In the meantime, I can’t recommend experiencing it live highly enough. It’s pure bliss.

Juice B Crypts biggest drawback is that, with so much going on, some of these songs get lost in the album’s frenetic whiplash pacing. A Loop So Nice…” is a fleeting piece of crystalline glitch-pop that suffers from its placement alongside its superior companion piece, They Played It Twice,” which features a vocal part from Xenia Rubinos that attains almost religious levels of ecstasy. Last Supper on Shasta, Pt. 1” gets some mileage from Merrill Garbus’s typically wild vocals, but Pt. 2” buries her singing under a mountain of noise.

What follows from there is sublime and analgesic. A beautiful rendering of Genius of Love” by the Tom Tom Club, a Byrne-less Talking Heads side project. Then the triumphant Big Suit triptych culminates in the exhilarating thousand-yard-nowhere-stare of Crosseyed and Painless.” And like that the ritual is over and the postmortem begins. What has happened here, after all the head slapping and the lunatic dancing and the houses burning and the psycho killers and the baptisms and portents of permanent war? How to make sense of it all? It is 1983 in America. An outsized future awaits.

I’ve done shows before where musicians can move around. I did a tour with St. Vincent a few years ago and all the brass players could move around, which is not that uncommon. And then I did another one before that where we had some dancers and singers that could move around, and there was always all this other stuff on stage. All the gear and the players, they were kind of locked in place. And this time I thought if I could get everybody to move, if everybody was free, then we wouldn’t need to have anything on stage except us. And that is going to help tell the story.

A gestational version of this story plays out over the course of the three songs at the end of Stop Making Sense (where the big suit is featured). On a frenzied take of Girlfriend Is Better,” Byrne is first seen in shadow, before the camera pulls back to reveal the ludicrous spectacle of his carefully tailored 10X Large. He wriggles and twitches bizarrely and mimes air guitar. He is the picture of a clean-cut, close-cropped, white-guy normie in garments ill-fitting from both a physical and psychological perspective.

It was a mixture. I knew that people are going to want to hear some songs they’re familiar with, to ground it in something they know. But also, the catalog is deep enough that I could cherry-pick songs that help advance the narrative. In a show like this one, Psycho Killer” is not going to be appropriate. It just doesn’t help the story at all. It doesn’t fit. But luckily there’s plenty of other things.

In that film, even when he’s sharing a mic with another singer, Byrne registers as an isolated being, in radioactive communion with himself alone. (He has spoken of probably being on the milder end of the autism spectrum.) In American Utopia,” he’s in propulsive dialogue with everyone onstage, and with the audience, too.

It’s appropriate that the first song to assemble the full company onstage is also the first classic Heads track, “Don’t Worry About the Government,” and while the electricity bouncing off the performers and coursing through the audience is a constant throughout the show, it peaks every time they dip into that superlative vintage catalog. Byrne’s typically quirky, clever lyrics also are a good thematic fit, about an Everyman relishing the security of family, home and job. The satirical hint behind the admiration expressed by the song’s narrator for “the laws made in Washington, D.C.” also jibes with the show’s bigger picture.

Although best-known for his groundbreaking tenure fronting the new wave group Talking Heads, David Byrne is also acclaimed for his adventurous solo career, encroaching upon such diverse arenas as world music, filmmaking, and performance art in the process. Born in Dumbarton, Scotland on May 14, 1952, Byrne was raised in Baltimore, Maryland. The son of an electronics engineer, he played guitar in a series of teenage bands before attending the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, where, feeling alienated from the largely upper-class student population, he dropped out after one year. However, he remained in the Providence area, performing solo on a ukulele before forming the Artistics (also known as the Autistics) with fellow students Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth.

Now, he’s adding to that list of credits with his stage show “American Utopia” which is heading to Broadway in October. The show will feature songs from his latest album of the same name, as well as some of Talking Heads’ older works, with added choreography, a narrative arc and lots of other special fairy dust that elevates something from a concert to a work of theater.

I remember when I moved here, I could work a part time job as a theater usher, which meant I was often not working a full day. I didn’t make a lot of money but it was enough to pay my share of the rent, with other band members as roommates. It left us enough time to rehearse. Sometimes we could even play gigs. It’s pretty hard to survive in New York on a part time job these days. People have got to negotiate that and figure it out. So far, some people are figuring it out.

Byrne’s new album, American Utopia (out March 9 on Nonesuch Records), falls right in line with his discography. It’s a record that effortlessly moves through his signature harmonies and floating songwriting. At times, he sings from the perspective of a dog in paradise (Dog’s Mind”); others, he’s musing on whether something should be considered this” or that” (This Is That”), whatever the hell that means. Initially created in tandem over email with Brian Eno, who provided him some electronic drum tracks made by an algorithm (of course), Byrne wrote his lyrics quickly,” and soon the project morphed into his own.

With the Fox stage decorated by a three-sided silver curtain, Byrne appeared shoeless in a gray suit and launched into Here” off his latest solo record, American Utopia Quickly, the evening’s main attraction joined, a diverse band in identical attire. With single drums or a keyboard slung around their necks, each member was unshackled from the confines of the standard rock-band arrangement and able to join Byrne in choreography for each song.


David Byrne (born May 14, 1952) is a Scottish – American musician and artist perhaps best known as a founding member and principal songwriter of the new wave band Talking Heads , which was active between 1974 and 1991. Since then, Byrne has released his own solo projects on record, and worked in a variety of media, including film , photography , opera , and Internet -based projects. He has received Grammy , Oscar , and Golden Globe awards for his achievements.

And it’s tougher in ways that are different than it was when you were coming out. Is that your view? Yeah I would say so. When I was coming up rents were pretty cheap. I was sharing a loft with other band members, but I could pay my share with a little part time job. Which left plenty of time to do other things, like write songs. I think that might be hard to do now.

A few years earlier, I had toured with the musical artist St. Vincent , and we had a large horn section that we decided should be completely mobile…not a complete surprise, as it’s not unusual for horn players to carry their instruments. We did a fair amount of moving around while playing, but certain elements of the band—the keyboard and the drums—were still firmly stuck in place. Could I liberate them, too? It turns out I could. Drummer Mauro Refosco, whom I’ve worked with for years, said we’d need 6 drummers to reproduce the necessary grooves…I checked the budget and it was tight, but I could afford it. And it turns out there is a technology that allows a keyboard to be mobile, so Karl Mansfield tested it out. Guitarists have been able to be untethered for years – and now everyone else could do it, too.

When you think of David Byrne, you generally don’t associate such a singular and ambitious artist as being someone who eases into their mornings. But, as the man told me over the phone, he likes to take his time in bed before facing each day.

Should audience members who are familiar with Broadway musicals come to this expecting the kind of story that they might expect from a typical Broadway musical, or should one approach this more as a concert experience? It’s a kind of hybrid. I wouldn’t say a story but I would say a narrative arc. So it’s not a story in the conventional sense but I think there’s a beginning and a middle and an end. And it takes you on a kind of journey through a person’s development. I think you get that. But it’s not done in a conventional way, like then this happened, then this happened, then this happened and or with acted out scenes of course. But I think audiences have sensed that. So we’re trying to bring that out a little bit more.

I caught up with the former Talking Heads singer-songwriter, author, and champion of creativity to discuss his upcoming David Byrne’s American Utopia” residency on Broadway that will bring his recent highly successful and acclaimed tour to the Hudson Theater for 16 weeks starting on Oct. 4.

More than three decades after Jonathan Demme’s 1984 Talking Heads concert film, Stop Making Sense represents not only the definitive document of this most idiosyncratic and forward-looking of rock acts, but also a landmark cinematic achievement. Assembled from footage of four December 1983 performances at L.A.’s Pantages Theater, it’s a masterfully executed and profoundly ambitious reimagining of the concert film genre, achieving something at once wildly theatrical but unpretentious, endlessly bizarre but utterly legible, and publicly joyous without resorting to pandering.

Speaking of Janelle Monae, Byrne used one of her more emotionally-charged songs, Hell You Talmbout”, throughout his tour in hopes of sharing her message of social alertness. Byrne was asked about whether or not he had any concerns about performing the song aimed at unapologetically addressing police brutality, but for Monae, the subject never seemed to be out of bounds in terms of a white man relaying a message from black voices and communities.


Byrne wrote, directed, and starred in True Stories , a musical collage of discordant Americana released in 1986, as well as producing most of the film’s music. Byrne also directed the documentary Île Aiye and the concert film of his 1992 Latin-tinged tour titled Between the Teeth. He was chiefly responsible for the stage design and choreography of Stop Making Sense in 1984.

Juice B Crypts occasionally threatens to collapse beneath the weight of its overstuffed songs. But even when it’s too maximalist for its own good, Battles’s music is still compelling. That’s thanks in large part to Stainer’s mind-meltingly good drum work, which culls from an impressive array of influences, from breakneck-style jazz playing in the vein of Buddy Rich to polyrhythmic adventurism like that of Chris Frantz to post-punk thudding reminiscent of Stephen Morris. He remains Battles’s stabilizing force.

Since the late-1970s, when David Byrne formed the iconic (and alas, now-defunct) Talking Heads, his career has been an endless stream of fascinating side projects, starting with his super-weird, super-cool Brian Eno collab, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, and his scoring of choreographer Twyla Tharp’s The Catherine Wheel. He founded his own World Music label, Luaka Bop, and wrote half a dozen books, including the best-selling quasi-memoir How Music Works. His obsession with the National Color Guard Championships led to a documentary called Contemporary Color. Most recently, his American Utopia tour featured dancers and musicians untethered from the standard concert setup by means of wireless and wearable instruments—nary an amp nor drumset in sight.

David Byrne: It’s a more intimate setting than what we’re used to so we have to adjust our performance appropriately. To do that, some of our rather big, huge gestures are scaled down a little bit and have to be more precise. But the big change for me, I sensed when we were doing the concert tour that there was kind of an underlying narrative that was emerging in the show. I thought, for Broadway, this would be the opportunity to bring that out a little more. That’s what I’ve been doing. There are a few little more talking bits that help connect the dots and help the audience see what I think is inherent in the show.

While fans may be disappointed by Byrne’s answer, the singer is next planning to debut a new Joan of Arc musical on Broadway this spring. American Utopia, the theatrical concert event from former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne , officially opens on Broadway October 20 following previews that began October 4 at the Hudson Theatre.

As 2018 drew to a close, many fans and media outlets took the end-of-year opportunity to look back and share their favorite concerts and performances of 2018. Byrne’s tour found its way onto a number of those Best of 2018” lists, but like any music fan, he had his own favorites to pick from, and they’re much more relatable than one would imagine from a brilliant mind like Byrne’s.

The songs aren’t cynical. This is true. It may be a little hard to believe because people do tend to associate me with a lot of ironic stuff, using an ironic point of view. But I think people get that this is something different.

Eventually I realized we were doing something no one had even done before, or if they had, I didn’t know about it. When we began to put the show in front of audiences, I realized there was a kind of narrative there. Friends, and even strangers, began to point it out, and we all sensed it, as well. As a friend from London said, The American Utopia of the title is there on stage.” I also realized that this narrative was not something told, it was something experienced.

Quite some time, although… well, I love collaborating with people. And obviously there are a bunch of collaborators on this one too, but it’s more my record. For the most part, I gotta make the decisions. I’d done two musicals—musical musicals—in the intervening time, and with those, you’re writing from different character’s points of view. In some ways, this album is me. There are still some character songs, but a lot of it is me. Which is very different than the point of view of Joan of Arc…were she a pop singer. Laughs.

In late 2005, Byrne and Fatboy Slim began work on Here Lies Love , a disco opera or song cycle about the life of Imelda Marcos , the controversial former First Lady of the Philippines Some music from this piece was debuted at Adelaide Festival of Arts in Australia in February 2006 and the following year at Carnegie Hall on 3 February 2007.

As the group’s principle singer and songwriter, Byrne led Talking Heads for more than three decades. Best known for hits such as Psycho Killer,” Burning Down The House,” Once In A Lifetime,” And She Was,” and many more. Talking Heads were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

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