Photos and Article By: Derrick Rossignol
Since the 1970s, David Byrne has been one of the most creative artists and fascinating thinkers in music. Setting himself apart has been Byrne's ethos for decades, whether it was his work with Talking Heads or his solo career. He's taken breaks here and there, but now, he's back: He released American Utopia, his seventh solo album and first since 2004, earlier this year. He's currently on a tour in support of the record, and his stop at Portland's Merrill Auditorium proved that the 66-year-old hasn't lost a step.
In fact, the show was full of steps. Byrne and has band have adopted a marching band-like technique for their live set-up: The stage itself is bare and the musicians carry their instruments, which allows everybody to move around freely, and for each song to have unique and adventurous choreography. Whether Byrne was stumbling around, performing relaxed and patient dance moves, or playing guitar, he and his band were moving in one way or another, and the originality of the show accomplished the rare feat of matching the creativity of Byrne's music.
"This is the most ambitious show I’ve done since the shows that were filmed for ‘Stop Making Sense,’ so fingers crossed," Byrne previously said about the trek. There's a lot of truth behind that: Nothing about his performance was predictable or expected, which, combined with his oeuvre of classic songs, turned Merrill Auditorium into one of the loudest rooms I've ever been in.
I don't know if there's an age where an artist stops being able to break boundaries, but if there is, it's older than 66.