HomeMusicDavid Byrne Reaffirms Legend Status at American Utopia's Stop in NJ

David Byrne Reaffirms Legend Status at American Utopia’s Stop in NJ

Pop Break Live: David Byrne with tUnE-yArDs at the OceanFirst Bank Center in Long Branch, NJ

It began like no other concert I had ever seen before or probably will ever see again.

David Byrne, 66, sits alone at a table towards the back center of the stage wearing a grey suit and holding a replica of the human brain. He begins to sing “Here” the final track off his latest album, American Utopia. It’s only fitting that he starts his show with the last song of his new album, a slower one at that. It’s just another way to throw the audience off from what awaits them for the rest of the performance. And I do mean performance.

Byrne would soon leave the chair and take over the rest of the stage pointing to the brain while singing lyrics like “here is an area of great confusion.” By the end of the opening number, Byrne returns to his seat and hands off the brain to one of the members of his live band. Within mere moments, it was clear that David Byrne knows how to put on a show.

After seeing that haunting performance, I had no idea what to expect for the rest of the show. Would this be a one man play with Byrne taking centerstage? That question was quickly answered when eleven band members joined him for a rousing rendition of “Lazy” off 2004’s Grown Backwards. Dressed in matching grey suits, the member of Byrne’s live band sang backup or played various instruments all completely wireless. But unlike most live bands, they rarely stood in one place.

In fact, every single song performed during the night was specifically choreographed and had the band consistently moving. But even with all of the members being relatively young, they could barely keep up with Byrne. The charismatic former Talking Heads’ mastermind created a performance art piece that had him acting, singing, and dancing through a massive 21-song set with few breaks in between.

Fans of Talking Heads will be happy to hear that Byrne doesn’t forget to include the hits like “Burning Down the House” and “Once In a Lifetime” while also playing tracks like “Blind,” “The Great Curve,” and “Slippery People” from the band’s extensive catalog. While hearing these songs live is amazing, it’s seeing Byrne’s vision of his American Utopia album come to life that is truly worth the price of admission.

For those looking for the same old concert experience, I will advise you to stay away from this tour. This is art that belongs on display at a museum. This could be (and should be) something that you can see on Broadway. It’s unlike anything else out there and should have every other artist question what exactly putting on a “good show” really means.


I Zimbra (Talking Heads song)
Slippery People (Talking Heads song)
Dog’s Mind
I Should Watch TV (David Byrne & St. Vincent cover)
Everybody’s Coming to My House
This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) (Talking Heads song)
Once in a Lifetime (Talking Heads song)
Doing the Right Thing
Toe Jam (Brighton Port Authority cover)
Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) (Talking Heads song)
I Dance Like This
Every Day Is a Miracle
Like Humans Do
Blind (Talking Heads song)
Burning Down the House (Talking Heads song)

Opening things up was the equally eclectic, tUnE-yArDs.

Al Mannarino
Al Mannarinohttp://alfredmannarino.com
Al Mannarino is the Managing Editor and Staff photographer for The Pop Break. He graduated Rowan University with a degree in Radio/TV/Film & History. When he isn’t writing he is either trying to build his own TARDIS or taking a nap. Follow him on Twitter: @almannarino.

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