David Byrne’s critically acclaimed 2008/2009 concert tour in support of his collaborative album with fellow iconoclast Brian Eno, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, is the subject of a fascinating new documentary, Ride, Rise, Roar: A Live Concert Film.
One of popular music’s most progressive artists — beginning with his groundbreaking tenure in Talking Heads and continued through with an uncompromising, if less popular, solo career — Byrne has long explored the synergistic possibilities in mixing aural and visual mediums. As the near-90-minute feature details, for this project he incorporated elements of modern dance into the context of a rock concert.
Byrne’s alliance with Eno dates back decades, and the songs played on this tour concentrated on their unique chemistry. And so it’s of no surprise that Talking Heads albums Fear of Music and Remain in Light, in particular, yield some of the most exciting live moments here — “The Great Curve,” “Heaven,” and the primal rhythms of “I Zimbra,” to cite but a few — while new cuts like the reflective “My Big Nurse” and the show-stopping “I Feel My Stuff” bring their bond full circle with equal conviction.
Overall, the film functions more as an exposition of Byrne’s creative process than as a straightforward chronicle of this particular tour, thus steering clear of the carbon-copy format of most concert films. Instead it transitions between divergent scenes — rehearsal footage of the band and dancers, commentary by those most pertinent to the stage production, and select live performances — that altogether make for a striking and, in a cumulative sense, representative impression of what was an exhilarating concert experience.