The best thing I can say about the David Byrne and St. Vincent show at Red Butte Garden Monday night is that my expectations were sky high, and the duo--backed by eight horn players and a couple other musicians--met and exceeded those expectations at every turn.
Drawing heavily from the 2012 album they made together, Love This Giant, Byrne and St. Vincent's Annie Clark delivered a funk-filled, energetic gig sans any opening act, simply hitting the stage and knocking out about two hours of non-stop excellence. Highly choreographed excellence at that.
Opening with a couple of Love This Giant's best songs, "Who" and "Weekend in the Dust," they rarely let up from the start, pausing occasionally to chat up the crowd, introduce band members or simply reorganize themselves--a necessity considering every song was a full song-and-dance production. They dotted the set with songs from both Byrne and Clark's solo careers, as well as some Talking Heads classics that clearly thrilled the crowd.
After those opening two songs, each performer took on a song from their respective back catalogs, reimagining them thanks to the incredible horn section. For St. Vincent, it was a stellar take on "Save Me From What I Want," and for Byrne it was "Strange Overtones" from his semi-recent collaboration with Brian Eno, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.
Talking Heads "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) came seven songs in, giving older Talking Heads fans reason to rejoice, and experience a horn-driven arrangement that was every bit the equal of the original. Clark shined right after on a winning take of Love This Giant's "A Forest Awakes," one of the more ornate songs the duo crafted for the release.
As the show proceeded through Talking Heads' "Wild Wild Life" and St. Vincent's "Cheerleader," Byrne shed his jacket and jerkily moved around the stage with the band in measured, not quite graceful, dance moves while Clark tried to keep up with the maelstrom going on around her.
"I Should Watch TV" and "Outside of Space and Time" led into the first of two encores--the first of which included excellent versions of St. Vincent's "The Party" and Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House," before the entire band returned for a kinetic version of Talking Heads' "Road to Nowhere."
With the crowd on its feet and the rain having waiting til show's end before drenching Red Butte Garden, Byrne and Clark closed up shop having delivered an exhilarating show that I would go see again tomorrow. If that's not a testament to a show's value, I don't know what is.