David Byrne & St. Vincent – July 13th – Botanic Gardens @ Chatfield

David Byrne St Vincent-5891Photos by Tim Dwenger

The Scene: If you live in Denver or the surrounding areas, you know that last Saturday afternoon brought a deluge of epic proportions.  The heavens opened up and it poured, and poured, and poured.  Fortunately, we were smart enough to stop off in Old Town Littleton on our way down to the show for a pre-show beverage and wait out the bulk of the rain and Swallow Hill and The Botanic Gardens were kind enough to delay the show for about an hour and 15 minutes to allow the rain and accompanying lightening to pass.

When we showed up at the vast grass parking lot for Chatfield it was a mud-bog but, as we sloshed our way into the amphitheater  we noticed that the rain hadn’t dampened many people’s spirits and there were still a handful of tailgaters enjoying the night in appropriate rain gear.  Inside there was a sea of anoraks and umbrellas shielding soggy fans from the elements as they held their ground and waited for the first notes of music.

David Byrne & St. Vincent: At about 20 past eight (start time was slated for 7pm) David Byrne and Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) emerged to the delight of the crowd that was eagerly anticipating their arrival.  Accompanied by a full Brass Band, the duo launched straight into the first two tracks from their recent collaborative album Love This Giant, “Who” and “Weekend In The Dust.”  Just as fans who were familiar with the record were starting to whisper about the band performing the album straight through from beginning to end, Byrne turned the focus to his 2008 release with Brian EnoEverything That Happens Will Happen Today, with a beautifully rearranged version of one of that album’s standout tracks “Strange Overtones.”  Being a huge fan of the Byrne/Eno collaboration, I was thrilled to hear this cut but disappointed it was the only one from the album that made it’s way into the 90 minute set.

As the set went on and the night cleared up to allow a shimmering moon to break free of the clouds, the duo treated us to about two thirds of Love This Giant along with a smattering of St Vincent originals and some real crowd pleasers in the form of four Talking Heads covers.  The first appeared just six songs into the evening and was bouncy and Brass filled take on the 1983 hit “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody).”  While this is an oft covered tune by bands frequenting Colorado, it was great to hear the man who wrote it at mic delivering the lines we all know by heart.

A little later the duo tipped their hat to Mother Nature, and the fantastic display she put on to open the evening, when they broke out “Lightning” but the crowd really got going when Byrne introduced “Wild Wild Life” as a song he wrote “some years ago for a movie.”  Despite the popularity of the song, Byrne had never performed “Wild Wild Life” live until this summer’s tour with St. Vincent and the crowd ate up every note as we danced under the darkening sky and the band members took turns singing lines of the song.

Throughout the night Byrne danced in his trademark New Wave style as Clark busted some robotic moves of her own, but it was particularly fun to watch the choreographed moves that the Brass players executed.  When I have seen Byrne in the past, his shows have featured similar choreography and I have to say it adds a theatrical element to the show that is not only fun to watch, but enhances the performance greatly.  The set ended with a raucous version of “Burning Down The House” that revved up the crowd once again.

As we headed for the door to beat the traffic out of the mud bog of a parking lot, the band returned for an encore that consisted of “Road To Nowhere” and two electronic Brass jams that wound down the crowd and the night.  Despite the fact that Bryne and Clark were forced to cut their set a bit short due to the delay, it was a fantastic performance, and one that will  people will be talking about until the next time Byrne comes to town.

Energy: A-
Musicianship: A
Sound: B+
Stage Presence: A
Set/Light Show: C

Overall: A-


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Who Is Timothy Dwenger

Music has always been a part of my life. It probably all started listening to old Grateful Dead, Peter Paul & Mary, and Simon & Garfunkel records that my parents had, but it wasn't long before they were taking me to concerts like Starship, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Huey Lewis & The News. I got the bug to write about music after reviewing an Eric Clapton concert for a creative writing project in high school but didn't really take it up seriously until 2002. Since then I have published countless articles in The Marquee Magazine and done some work for Jambase.com, SPIN Magazine, and various other outlets. I started Listen Up Denver! as a way to share the music information that is constantly spilling out of my head with people who care. Please enjoy!