Not photographing David Byrne

25 April 2009

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At the start of his set at the Royal Festival Hall over Easter, David Byrne explained the rules on photography for the gig. Amateur pictures were allowed, but only good ones, and as we left the concert security would ask us to delete any poor pictures. We could upload them to the internet as long as we posted them widely and made sure that other people would find them. And there was aesthetic and technical advice for thise of us on the balcony – probably not worth trying to take a photo since we were so far away the flash would have no effect and it would almost certainly look awful.

For those of used to gigs  with draconian notices forbidding photography, or celebrities obsessed with their image rights, this was refreshing, a performer in touch with the times and with his fans.

Three other things I learnt from the event, which showcased songs on which Byrne and Eno had collaborated:

  • The songs from My Life In The Bush of Ghosts have held up remarkably well despite being almost thirty years old now
  • The mid-period Talking Heads songs (Once in a Lifetime, Life During Wartime) sound awesome even without a mid-size band and lots of brass
  • The decision to use dancers, and choreography, was a huge success. For sheer wit the acclaim should go to the the track where Byrne and the three dancers all performed from office chairs at the front of the stage – Herman Miller chairs, of course.

Eno appeared – despite apparent protestations beforehand of stage fright –  for a final encore and joined in some choruses, applauded hugely, but reminded me why I don’t listen to Tiger Mountain for the vocals. I didn’t take a photo either. I was in the balcony, and it would  have looked awful.

Thanks to pH balanced (which reviews the latest Byrne/Eno collaboration) for the photo.

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