A definitive incident amid this solo set by the sometime Talking Heads singer David Byrne, for those who caught it, came towards the end of "The Great Curve", itself the finale of only the first encore. The crowd were all standing, although this grand old venue – very shortly to house significant parts of the Edinburgh International Festival – is perhaps used to a more genteel audience than the one enjoying this early salvo of the Edge Festival, three weeks of rock and pop concerts running concurrent with the Fringe.
On stage, Byrne was nearing the end of a show, which must rank as one of the liveliest, most joyful and most utterly in love with the ridiculous wonder of pop music ever devised. There's perhaps more to be said about its delights than any review can contain, but this one image might describe the artful beauty of the night better than any number of words. Imagine the customary sea of hands, all punching the air with enjoyment or raised palms-first towards Byrne, warming themselves on the magic. Now picture one of those pairs of hands in particular; the ones brandishing a matching pair of crutches and shaking them at the ceiling with fierce, dancing delight. David Byrne, it seems, plays such a wondrous live set that even the lame are cured – or at least cheered up to the extent that injuries are forgotten.
In similar fashion to Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense, this tour in celebration of Byrne and Brian Eno's collaborative life (material from their recent album, Everything That Happened Will Happen Today, figured strongly, although Eno himself isn't part of the live line-up) is as much a piece of performance art and a contemporary dance work as it is a rock gig. Byrne, his four-piece band, his trio of backing singers and another trio of backing dancers are all dressed in casual white uniforms. Their movements and performances are crisply choreographed, but not so much that the set feels overly controlled or regimented.
Instead, there's a playful naturalism to the way Byrne and his backing troupe all move in unison. For example, during "Once in a Lifetime" – perhaps not previously a song that would have sprung to mind as a prime soundtrack for synchronised dancing – there comes a beautiful moment when dancer Steven Reker deftly leapfrogs the singer as he plays a guitar solo. That's perhaps the most inspiring thing; that Byrne (57 earlier this year) isn't a bystander to the movement. He and his singers jog on the spot in time with the music during "Life During Wartime", and the entire company begin the main-set-closing "I Feel My Stuff" clustered around one microphone, synchronising hand gestures and hip wiggles as Byrne begins the song with an a cappella vocal.
The end of the set's main bulk allowed Byrne to step away from his Eno collaborations and plough through three greatest-hits-heavy, adoringly-received encores. There was no "Psycho Killer", but these did include a sassily soulful "Take Me to the River", a gospel-infused "Road to Nowhere" and a version of "Burning Down the House", which saw the entire company dressed in tutus. Perhaps Byrne's Scottish heritage is to the forefront of his mind when he returns to play in the country, because this astonishing, uplifting show bore the feel of one from which every stop had been pulled.Reuse content