I'll start by saying that David Byrne's performance at the Orpheum last night was amazing -- though I didn't expect anything less.
Byrne's group -- 11 people total, including the dancers -- came out dressed in white from head to toe. Byrne told the crowd to expect to hear songs that he had collaborated on with Brian Eno over the years, including Talking Heads songs, songs from the Byrne/Eno My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, and some from their newest collaboration, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.
The group opened with "Strange Overtones," a single from the latter, and the audience stood, immediately attentive. To the delight of the crowd, they played a number of Talking Heads hits, including "I Zimbra," "Once in a Lifetime," and "Houses in Motion." The energy from the crowd -- especially during the Talking Heads songs -- exceeded that of any other show I've attended at the Orpheum, but that may have also had something to do with the fact that alcoholic beverages were allowed in the seating areas.
The newer songs, though not quite as well known to many, were really great, too. There was a comforting familiarity to the music, and in my opinion, just about anything the now wonderfully white-haired, always eccentric Byrne produces is pure genius. The group's three dancers flitted and contorted around the stage in unison with the percussion-filled, sometimes African-sounding, music. And Byrne's vocals remained as smooth and soothing as they've always been. The performance was completely magical.
But the most exciting part for me came after the show -- after the crowd of hippies and die-hard fans slowly made their way out and away. At around 11:15 p.m., I was at B.B. King's Blues Club on Beale, saying hi to some friends and grabbing one last celebratory beer. Then in walks none other than David Byrne himself -- followed by his dancers, back-up singers, his percussionist, and his drummer.
Byrne stood unrecognized at the bar, so I walked up to him, introduced myself and gave him a huge bear hug. I told him I'd buy him a drink. He graciously accepted the offer and ordered a Ghost River, a locally brewed beer. Byrne took a few sips and quickly made his way to the dance floor.
Z-DA, "The Princess of Beale," was performing, and Byrne obviously couldn't resist the urge to dance to the Stax classic, "Hold On, I'm Coming." Byrne danced in his classic only-David-Byrne-would-dance-this-way-in-public style, squatting and bobbing his head to and fro. His group hit the dance floor shortly after, and it appeared that they were all having a blast.
I joined them and found myself dancing within feet of Byrne. He bounced and bobbed across the dance floor for another few songs -- pausing only to sip his beer -- before making a quick stop in the restroom and then a dash to the exit.
I didn't want to seem like a crazy fan, so I let him go without bothering him. I watched through the window as he unchained his bicycle from the rack outside of B.B.'s. A moment later, I walked outside to see him riding off in the distance, his white shirt fading into darkness around the corner of Main and Beale. -- by Shara Clark