While I’m an occasional fan of David Bryne there is nothing occasional in my enthusiasm for his latest release of a DVD chronicling his tour in support of his 2008 album in collaboration with Brian Eno, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. Simply put, it is wonderful.
Eclectic and amazingly talented Byrne has always been a mystery to me. How can a man behind some of my favorite songs of all time as the frontman for the Talking Heads (“Once In A Lifetime,” “And She Was,” “Psycho Killer,” “Burning Down The House”) also be the man responsible for music that completely mystifies and confuses me — nearly every other Talking Heads song as well as the first solo album on which he collaborated with Eno — to such an extent that I tend to initially dismiss his work as something I don’t like or will ever appreciate?
On face value I’m not quite sure what drew me into actually purchasing this new DVD, Ride Rise Roar. Maybe it was curiosity or perhaps it was stubbornness in giving myself one more chance to understand music that was currently out of my comfort zone. Yes, let’s go with that second one.
I want to like Byrne. I want to like his music quite a bit as there are some songs of his that I truly and deeply adore. And so, I have now watched or listened to this DVD somewhere around two dozen times in the past week. I love it.
Bryne and Eno, though I’m going to guess it was more Byrne as he is the performing aspect of this collaboration, decided expand upon the vocabulary of Everything That Happens Will Happen Today as well as the older hits that made this tour’s setlist into something different, all with the inclusion of dance and movement.
It was something of a revelation, on my part at least, to see these songs on the stage being performed as well as being interpreted by dancers and artists other than the band itself. It gave me a moving and visceral starting point for the songs that helps add a bit of my own interpretation into the mix.
Maybe a bit of my confusion with Byrne’s other work is my lack of a framework from which to base my own feelings. Music is a two-way street that requires participation from the listener and I simply had no way of achieving that, until now perhaps. Seeing these dancers moving and witnessing Byrne’s reaction to them and how he adjusts his own movements and performance to coexist within their creation allowed me to see that there was space for me to do the same.
Musically, Byrne and his band are tight as can be and some of these songs sound as fresh as if they were newly crafted instead of being decades old. They have not only aged well; these songs still snarl and bite with emotions, and that has a lot to do with Byrne’s vitality and his band’s incredible talent.
The dancers, and by extension the choreographers who worked with them, are just as wonderful. Nothing is perfect and at times it seems as if there were no true “nail it down in just this way and pattern” rehearsals, but as the film’s behind-the-scene moments show such was just not the case. Rehearsed seemingly to their limits, the dancers and their choreography seems fresh and almost invented on the spot.
Simply put, this DVD is well worth watching and I am grateful to Byrne for both having the foresight to record this tour for public viewing later, but also because it has made me truly take a look back at the music this man has crafted that I’d earlier dismissed and give it another listen.
If you are a fan of music and of dance I cannot recommend this film highly enough.