We went to the cinema on Saturday night to see the re- released print of Stop Making Sense, Talking Heads' 1984 concert film, directed by Jonathan Demme and showing the nine piece band on fire in Los Angeles at the end of the tour to promote the previous year's Speaking In Tongues. I first saw it in 1987, bought on VHS and played repeatedly. The re- release doesn't do anything the earlier one didn't but seeing it on the big screen and at volume was a total joy. The set up of the film is well known- David Byrne arrives on stage on his own with ghettoblaster and acoustic guitar and plays Psycho Killer. An 808 drum machine kicks in and David plays and sings along. During the instrumental section he staggers about the stage like a man being shot, his wired energy setting the tone for much of the rest. Over the next few songs the band join him one by one, first Tina Weymouth for Heaven, then Chris Frantz and then Jerry Harrison. After that Steve Scales bounds in on percussion, Edna Holt and Lynn Mabry take up their place at the front of the stage next to Byrne on co- vocals and dancing and then guitarist Alex Weir and Bernie Worrell on synths/ keyboards. Once the stage set is built and band are assembled its a full on Talking Heads show, with stunning versions of Slippery People, Making Flippy Floppy, Swamp, Tom Tom Club's Genius Of Love (proving Chris and Tina could write hits too) and more. The version of Life During Wartime is absurdly good, the band running on the spot, Byrne circling the stage, running round the drum and keyboard risers three times and arriving back at the mic for his vocal. The sheer exuberance and joy the band exhibit, magnified by the big screen, is brilliant to watch, David Byrne's choreography and sense of theatre central to the show but not overpowering it- his dance with the lampstand during Naive Melody and the preacher persona performance on Once In A Lifetime are stunning. If you've seen Stop Making Sense you'll remember all of these parts- seeing it all again at the cinema was a blast. Everyone in screen two on Saturday night left with a smile on their face.
Before Stop Making Sense Talking Heads released a double live album, The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads, a two disc chronologically sequenced album drawn from various gigs between 1977 and 1980. In 1980 Talking Heads played Emerald City in New Jersey, the band expanded from the four piece version and heading towards the nine headed monster that would make Stop Making Sense. Houses In Motion is one of the key tracks from 1980 masterpiece Remain In Light, a weird slow motion funk groove and David Byrne's unique lyrical outlook- 'For a long time/ I was without style or grace/ Wearing shoes with no socks/ In cold weather...'.