David Byrne walks onto the stage and does a solo "Psycho Killer." Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz join him for two more songs. The crew is busy, still setting up. Then, three more musicians and two back-up singers join the band. Everybody sings, plays, harmonizes, dances, and runs. They change instruments and clothes. Bryne appears in the Big Suit. The backdrop is often black, but sometimes it displays words, images, or children's drawings. The band cooks for 18 songs, the lyrics are clear, the house rocks. In this concert film, the Talking Heads hardly talk, don't stop, and always make sense.Written by
Director Jonathan Demme wanted to shoot additional performance footage on a soundstage made to recreate the Pantages Theater. The band vetoed this idea because they thought the lack of audience response would have hindered the energy of their performance. See more »
At several points throughout the film, the sound and vision do not sync up. This is particularly noticeable during "Found A Job:" early in the song, a cymbal crash is heard, even though Chris Frantz is not seen to hit one. A few bars later, he hits the cymbal, but no sound is heard. See more »
It's a good thing that the Talking Heads broke up when they did. I mean, could you imagine them slogging it out today, playing the state fair circuit, or worse, the street fair circuit? No, watch this film. See a band at its creative and energetic peak. Remember them as they were over the two or three days in which it was filmed. Of course, you must watch David Byrne. He would make his entire body a performance art. He would contort, jog, dance, leap, and even make his clothes a prop.
But, watch Tina Weymouth...
Tina is a very visual performer too. She says almost nothing, letting her bass guitar speak for her. And while David goes over the top often, Tina is subtle and sublime. With her body moves as she dances in place. With her facial expressions, her smiles, occasional raised eyebrows, and glances. Then when the action shifts to the Tom Tom Club (in order to give David a break and allow him to change into his big suit), her big moment is for one song only--"Genius of Love" but man does she seize the moment and make it all her own! Rounding out the Talking Heads of course are drummer Chris Frantz (Tina Weymouth's husband for over 30 years now) and guitarist/keyboardist Jerry Harrison. When Chris takes the stage, he bounds up onto the riser, bows, and with a big smile, gets drumming. He is clearly enjoying himself during this and at the end of the show, he jubilantly throws his sticks into the audience. Jerry is a little harder to get a bead on. At times he's clearly enjoying himself, particularly on BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE. Other times he seems a little detached.
Rounding out the touring band are Alex Weir on lead guitar, Bernie Worrel on keyboards, Edna Holt and Lynn Marbry on back-up vocals, and Steve Scales on percussion. None are treated as sidemen, rather as an integral part of the show.
It has been commented that some "sweetening" of the sound was done. But I believe that it was to achieve sound consistency. I have heard several concert films with terrible audio (RUST NEVER SLEEPS comes to mind). Seeing this movie is what made me a Talking Heads fan back in 1985. Finding a copy at the used book store in 2006 is what helped me re-discover them.
It would be easy to dismiss the Talking Heads as all visual as all David Byrne. Such is not the case. The songwriting and musicianship was solid throughout the band's career. The band remained together for several more years, scoring several additional hits including AND SHE WAS, LADY DON'T MIND, & WILD WILD LIFE. They called it quits as a band in 1991, although all four members have remained active in music.
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