David Byrne revives old material at New York show

Former Talking Heads man kicks off four-night residency

David Byrne revived 20 year-old material on the first evening of his four night ‘Perspectives’ series at New York‘s Carnegie Hall last night (February 1).

The former Talking Heads star performed music from ‘The Knee Plays’. The music was originally composed as between-act pieces for the never-staged Robert Wilson theatre epic ‘The CIVIL warS’.



Backed by a septet of Manhattan jazz regulars, ‘The Knee Plays’ drew inspiration from New Orleans big band recordings, gospel, and Bulgarian folk music.


Byrne delivered vocals only on the spoken word performances. “I thought if I ate the food of the area I was visiting, then I might assimilate the view of the people there, as if the point of view was somehow in the food,” he declared on ‘Social Studies’. The only piece Byrne sung all evening was a set-closing rendition of the traditional gospel tune ‘I Bid You Goodnight’.


The set was:

‘Tree (today is an important occasion)’


‘In The Upper Room’

‘The Sound of Business’

‘Social Studies’

‘The Gift of Sound’

‘Theodora is Dozing’

‘Admiral Perry’

‘I’ve Tried’


‘Jungle Book’

‘In the Future’

‘I Bid You Goodnight’  

Byrne‘s series continues throughout the weekend, with performances by Devendra Banhart, Vashti Bunyan, and other freak-folkers (Friday); the American debut of Byrne‘s ‘Here Lies Love’ opera about Imelda Marcos; and an evening center around a single drone.