David Byrne - Bridgewater Hall (Manchester) - 15.4.04

There's something so idiosyncratic about David Byrne. The way he has with words, the eccentric body language, unmistakable vocals and his sartorial elegance. David has played in Manchester before, but this is the first time he has played at the prestigious Bridgewater Hall, the perfect venue to witness such an enigma. Naturally David has surrounded himself with musicians of the highest quality. The traditional band set-up is augmented by an additional percussionist, xylophone player and a six piece string ensemble. Resplendent in an immaculately pressed suit David looks every inch the dapper dandy.

Beginning with a track he contributed to the movie "Dirty Pretty Things" his textured voice works wonderfully well with orchestral accompaniment and he basks in the glorious adulation. Surprisingly there's a rowdy element who behave like they're at a football match, but thankfully these loud outbursts aren't consistent and so it doesn't ruin the evenings entertainment. Byrne is certainly a chameleon of his chosen craft. Who else could get away with attempting to tackle an aria from an opera, dabble in Argentinean tango and cover Lambchops "The Man Who Loved Beer". The two Talking Heads songs "Road To Nowhere" and "Once In A Lifetime" soon initiates a dancing frenzy with David demonstrating his guitar skills with aplomb. On his more adventurous excursions, particularly during his love of American music David glides across the stage like a modern day Fred Astaire crooning away with enviable confidence.

David Byrne has taken us on a world-wide journey of musical styles in under two hours and climaxes with his biggest solo hit "Lazy" which adds more depth with orchestral backing while still retaining the funk of the original. As a Talking Heads reunion is unlikely it's more than apparent that David Byrne's quite comfortable as a solo artist and from tonight's performance we can be assured he's on the top of his game.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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