David Byrne & St Vincent at the Roundhouse
The London leg of David Byrne & St Vincent’s Love This Giant tour certainly begins with great promise. Audience members crush against the stage in the domed, spacious Roundhouse theatre, all the while expressing their excitement to the strangers around them. One enthusiastic fan can be heard telling the less informed in her vicinity that each tour by Talking Heads’ founder Byrne could be his last, which is why everyone is so thrilled to have him back. True to her word, the audience erupt in manic applause when Byrne’s disembodied voice comes over the speakers.
The duo takes to the stage with Who – arguably their biggest hit from collaborative album Love This Giant and already a crowd favourite. Immediately, the collective brass band claim centre stage with their funky, infectious rhythm. The very same band who worked on the acclaimed album, this ensemble quite literally marches to their own beat when they become so absorbed in the music that they begin to strut, still playing, across the stage. By the time that Byrne begins Strange Overtones, a thoroughly warmed-up crowd have joined in the dance.
While it would seem that Byrne is considered the main attraction, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legend is somewhat overshadowed by St Vincent (aka Annie Clark). Clark’s soft yet edgy voice and eccentric charm give her an undeniable stage presence, and she leads the vocals for much of the set. Meanwhile, Byrne – while inspiring and talented as ever – almost seems to hold himself back, with much of his vocals drowned out by the powerful brass band. In any case, the gig loses some traction about halfway through with The Forest Awakes, at which point the audience begin to chat distractedly amongst themselves. However, Talking Heads’ crowd-pleasers such as Wild Wild Life and Burning Down the House do redeem the general performance and drive the audience wild.
While Clark is undeniably captivating and wonderfully complements veteran rocker Byrne, it is ultimately the brass band that steals the limelight. In light of this, tag-alongs and newcomers may find themselves unfortunately underwhelmed by the live performance of the well-received album. However, this tour is certainly a treat not to be missed for long-established fans.
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Watch the video for Who here: