David Byrne, the silver-haired, 61-year-old former singer and lyrical genius of Talking Heads, and Annie Clark, better known by her moniker St. Vincent, collaborated last year to make “Love This Giant.”
They’ve been touring off and on ever since and made a stop at Portland’s State Theatre on Friday night.
It was close to a sellout, and from the moment the show started to the moment it ended, it was an enthralling affair. The set included several songs from the “Giant” album along with tunes from St. Vincent and Byrne’s solo works and, you guessed it, some Talking Heads numbers.
Both Byrne and Clark played guitars and were backed by a drummer, keys player and an eight-piece brass band. And not just any brass band. These men and women not only were masters of their respective instruments, but they knew how to follow directions and were part of a dazzling show of cleverly choreographed marches and moves around the stage. At one point they were all lying down on the stage while still playing.
As for Byrne and Clark, they, too, wore their dancing shoes and while Byrne is more old-fashioned, Clark moves with an avant-garde edge and the entire evening had a performance art feel to it.
Much of the “Love This Giant” album is festooned with horns and drums, and such was the case with the live renderings. The show opened with “How,” and other “Giant” songs included “Weekend in the Dust,” “I Am An Ape,” “The One Who Broke Your Heart” and “Outside of Space and Time.”
Clark showed off her solo work by way of “Save Me From What I Want,” “Marrow” and “The Party.” The band also played the heck out of “Cheerleader,” from her 2011 album “Strange Mercy.” The encore brought with it “Cruel,” one of the best-known songs from the same record. During the Clark song “Northern Lights,” she and Byrne duked it out on a Theremin and the spacey sound vibrantly filled the room
As for the Byrne songs, “Lazy” from his 2004 album “Grown Backwards,” and “Strange Overtones,” a song he recorded with Brian Eno, were particularly impressive. Byrne’s voice has stood the test of time and sounds as good as he did when he was with Talking Heads. Speaking of which, “This Must Be the Place” was a crowd pleasure and many couldn’t help but sing along. “Wild Wild Life” was another fun one that sparkled with the force of eight horns, guitars, drums and keys. The horn players, in fact, each took a turn singing a line from the tune.
“Burning Down the House” brought the house down and was a celebratory dance by both musicians and audience members. The night ended with a Talking Heads favorite, “Road to Nowhere.”
Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 761-6455 or at: