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David Byrne in the Radisson

July 29, 2004 By Kernan Andrews
Galway Advertiser

David Byrne, is not known as ‘the most intelligent man in rock' for nothing. Who else could sing about particle physics and chaos theory in a three minute song and have the audience hanging on his every word? That's how it was in the Radisson on Monday night when Byrne, his band, and the Tosca Strings played the final concert of this year's Galway Arts Festival. On the night, Byrne did it all - performed songs from his 2001 album Look Into The Eyeball, played classic Talking Heads, sang in French, Italian, and Spanish, and played music he composed for theatre. It all comes down to that intelligence again his lyrics, full of subtle, self-deprecating satire on modern urban life, gave our minds something to chew on, while his music just compelled us to move, be it full-on dancing, or just nodding the head and tapping the feet. No one in the Radisson could actually stay still while the Byrne & Co played one stormer after another. And yes, Byrne too can ‘dance'. Wearing what could only be described as a boiler suit styled for an accountant, Byrne's neurotic, nerdy twitchings delighted the crowd, some of whom (unbeknownst to themselves) tried to do the same with even more (but unintentionally) hilarious results. Strapping on a red acoustic guitar, Byrne turned to the audience and said: “George W Bush asked me to write a song for the Republican convention. So I took out my paper and pencil and I got busy,” before launching into the mighty ‘The Road To Nowhere', followed by a magnificent ‘Once In A Lifetime'. Easily the highlight of the night, you had to ask - how do you follow that? For Byrne it was easy - calm the crowd down with something relaxing, in this case Verdi, before cranking it all up again with ‘Psycho Killer', but instead of guitar attack, the song was dominated by string quintet and xylophone, without losing any of its intensity. Credit must also go to Byrne's magnificent band, especially Mauro Refosco, who thrilled the crowd with his dazzling display of percussion on just about every kind of drum you could think of. After prolonged and pleading applause Byrne and band came on for an encore. That wasn't enough, the audience demanded more and Byrne obliged, looking at us with bemusement and wonder, as if he couldn't quite believe that the audience really didn't want him to stop playing. Well done to the arts festival for getting him here. The best was definitely saved until last.
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