Thursday, July 20, 2017

Once in a Lifetime

What happens when two people who've never seen what's considered to be the best concert film ever made finally see "Stop Making Sense?"

After dinner at Eleven Months - a massive pork chop with chorizo cornbread and spinach and chicken thigh escabeche with red pepper and arugula - watching a fellow bar sitter eat through four different desserts (the churros were his least favorite, the tequila chocolate cake the winner), they cross the street.

There, they wind up sitting in the center section of the Byrd Theater in seats that will no longer exist after tonight. That's right, beginning tomorrow morning, the Byrd will be ripping the seats that cradled our bums out of the floor in anticipation of the new ones arriving.

A dubious honor, but an honor nonetheless.

But besides the historic last stand for the seats, the duo are so enraptured with the 1984 film that they wind up discoursing on Talking Heads and what a fabulous film it was for an hour afterwards before even driving away from the theater.

One of them, who had only heard a very small portion of their music before tonight, is stunned by their musical chops and the stellar songwriting. One of them, who seldom sees videos, is gobsmacked by what a showman David Byrne is, whether dancing with a lamp, doing back bends or running circles around the risers.

The guitar geek takes note of every model of guitar and bass used in the performance, and even notes one continuity mistake in Tina Weymouth's bass during a cutaway. The cultural historian takes note of Weymouth's oh-so-'80s jumpsuit and gold flats and the percussionist's oh-so Flashdance sweatshirt with the neck and sleeves cut off.

Because today was a national screening day for the film, our night at the Byrd begins with an interview of director Jonathan Demme and David Byrne from 2004, both looking damn fine for middle-aged men with full heads of hair.

Demme recalls Byrne asking him repeatedly, "How is this going to be any different than other concert films?"

Frustrated with the questioning, Demme finally told him, "Because I'm making it and you're in it!" which pretty much sums up the brilliance of the film.

The surprises for me were myriad. That the band had five black and four white members. That Weymouth's hair was a ringer for that of Mary Travers'. That Byrne's famous "big suit" started out much smaller at the beginning of the set.

The delights were even more plentiful. The sheer exuberance of everyone's performances. Hearing "Psycho Killer" accompanied solely by acoustic guitar and drum machine. Hearing "Take Me to the River" as a full-on gospel show. Seeing Tom Tom Club do "Genius of Love" mid-set. All that lovely synth.

And, of course, the pure poetry of a pitch perfect version of "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" for ever and always my absolute favorite Talking Heads song.

Hi-yea, I got plenty of time
Hi-yea, you got light in your eyes
And you're standing here beside me
I love the passing of time
Never for money, always for love
Cover up and say goodnight
Say goodnight

And the most wonderful part of seeing the film in a theater crowded with fans of the band and assorted middle-aged music-lovers was the collective energy that all but engulfed it.

Spontaneous applause and cheers broke out after almost every song, as if we were actually at a live show. People began murmuring when they recognized the first couple notes of a song. I was far from the only one who sighed loudly when "Naive Melody" began or squealed when Alex Weir did his lightening fast guitar solos.

I didn't have to guess that this must be the place. I knew I was exactly where I should be. Finally.

Say goodnight.

No comments:

Post a Comment