As the dark clouds surrounding Brisbane decided to come together for a little electrical summer storm, the roads heading down to the Gold Coast became stand-still as some emergency roadworks created a frustrating intermittence. As the usual hour drive turned into a 2 and a half hour journey it became pretty obvious we were going to miss the theatrical stylings of Kimbra. In our absence the New Zealand singer-songwriter took to the stage to deliver songs from her pop heavy record ‘Primal Heart’. She has this rare ability to just command an audience with her powerful and unique vocals as she powers through these beat driven and artistic songs. Having only witnessed her a couple of months earlier on her headlining tour, it’s safe to say she probably gave the Gold Coast crowd a sweet little set.
Walking into the arena with nature sounds croaking as the lights began to dim, David Byrne appeared on the stage sitting at a desk holding a replica of a brain singing through the moody opener ‘Here‘. This was never going to be your normal nostalgic styled show, nor was it ever going to be a stand and deliver structure. Byrne had different plans. As the silver beads that outlined the square of the stage raised to create an abstract background, his groovy back up dancers walked through followed by his floating wireless band for the slick stylings of ‘Lazy’ and ‘I Zimbra’. For the duration of the show his band never stayed in one place and roamed the stage with Byrne, participating in breakdowns and choreography. This unique set up had a couple of audience members questioning if they were actually playing live but Byrne later addressed this and showed the audience just how they did it which was really interesting. They all dressed the same in silver suits and all graced the stage barefoot which allowed them to move freely.
Bouncing between a selection of Talking Heads greatest hits like ‘Slippery People’, ‘This Must Be The Place’ and ‘Once In A Lifetime’ he also dived into his solo career discography. Focusing on tracks from his new seventh studio album ‘American Utopia’ he used the shows strange format to brings these stories to life. ‘Dog’s Mind’, ‘Everybody’s Coming To My House’, ‘Doing The Right Thing’, ‘I Dance Like This’, ‘Bullet’ and ‘Gasoline And Dirty Sheets’ set the basis for the show whilst the rest of the setlist was compiled of greatest hits. But even a rare cut from his collaborative album with St Vincent ‘I Should Watch TV’ made the cut which was surprising when ‘Psycho Killer’ didn’t even make an appearance. But the crowd was not complaining as they got ‘Born Under Punches’, ‘Blind’ and the epic ‘Burning Down The House’ which became a very special singalong moment.
The excited and diverse crowd watched the aesthetically pleasing and interactive production intently as he used simple but effective technology to create something bold and different. It had a very 80’s vibe that complimented the sound and image he was going for. It felt like you had stepped into a time warp and was watching one of the innovative new tours from Talking Heads or Madonna. The choreography was slick, cheesy and fun and the beaming smiles from all the band members was nothing but contagious. His banter with the crowd which began halfway through the crowd was honest, playful and sharp. He explained concepts and delved into little excerpts from back stories that had all the long term fans thriving. Halfway through the show some of the crowd ran down to the front and surged the stage forming a little mosh pit and jumped away enthusiastically for the rest of the show. And Byrne didn’t seem to mind as he carried on with his cool props, interpretative choreography and polished charisma. All of the production aspects were really innovative and while the concepts were quite simple the delivery was grand and constantly kept you wondering what he was going to do next.
He could’ve easily just delivered a show of greatest hits with a standard backing band but instead her delivered a SHOW. It felt like you were going to a musical based on the inside of David Byrne’s brain and that’s honestly the best way to describe it. From the moment you entered the arena you stepped into a time warp and into a cool show that held no limits and found the right balance between music and visual aids.