David Byrne will bring his “American Utopia” tour to the City National Civic in San Jose this Saturday, August 18th.
Byrne, 66, is a pioneering singer, songwriter, producer, filmmaker and multi-instrumentalist, probably best known as the frontman of the Talking Heads. He was the architect and prime mover of the New Wave band in 1970s and ’80s, and later launched a solo career that includes movies, visual art, theater, photography, fiction and non-fiction. He also founded a record label, Luaka Bop, that focuses on world music.
Byrne has earned fame for his distinctive voice and idiosyncratic vision, which embraces subjects ranging from classical opera to high school color guards. (His documentary on the latter, “Contemporary Color,” screened at the 2016 Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham.)
Byrne’s concerts have been compared to performance art, and he prompted much speculation when he announced plans for a 2018 tour. It’s his first solo trek since 2009, supporting his 11th solo studio album, “American Utopia.”
“This is the most ambitious show I’ve done since the shows that were filmed for ‘Stop Making Sense,’ so fingers crossed,” Byrne said in a statement on his website.
He’s made several high-profile appearances at festivals this year, including Coachella, Sasquatch, Shaky Knees, Lollapalooza Chile and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Byrne’s tour agenda includes theaters, amphitheaters, performing arts centers, concert halls and more festivals. Here’s an excerpt from a review of his June 1 show at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, written by Joshua Klein of the Chicago Tribune:
“David Byrne, clad in a gray suit yet strangely barefoot, sat at a small table, lit starkly by a single spotlight. Singing ‘Here,’ from his newest album, ‘American Utopia,’ he slowly stood and held aloft a model human brain, which he pointed to like he was delivering a deranged TED Talk. Soon Byrne was joined by more suited singers, filling the once nearly empty stage with 11 others, most musicians, each fully mobile with their instruments mounted on their shoulders, like a neo-futurist drumline. And then the dancing began.
“Byrne has never shied away from high-concept ideas or elaborately choreographed performances, but the former Talking Heads frontman’s transformation has still been striking, from a guy who once made strumming a guitar look awkward to, at 66, a warm, smiling face with a shock of floppy white hair who wears a headset microphone so that he never has to stand still.
“That warmth pervaded Byrne’s show at the Auditorium Theatre on Friday, the first of three sold-out nights. A marvel of staging and motion that was at once utterly novel and oddly comforting, the evening proved a celebration of Byrne’s music at its most rhythmic and transcendent, whether the Talking Heads’ classics ‘This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)’ and ‘Once in a Lifetime’ or perhaps lesser known solo cuts such as ‘Like Humans Do’ and ‘Dancing Together,’ the latter a giddy track from his unlikely rock opera about Filipino kleptocrat Imelda Marcos.”