Director: Spike Lee
Stop Making Sense directed by Jonathon Demme is on many people’s list of best music concert films. Mine too. This is different to SMS but it is still rather excellent. It was filmed during a season at the Hudson theatre in New York which ran after their world tour. So the whole band is as tight as a fish’s arsehole, as we say down here.
Back to the concert. I reviewed it for the blog so you can track it down if you want. I was mightily impressed by the staging, the lack of amps, leads and all the other usual stage paraphernalia. A bare stage with long, I thought ropes, but after seeing the film they are revealed to be chains. Long chains, heaps of them and highly effective as a backdrop, for use with lights and with their movement.The photo I have posted here from the Melbourne show is a good example.
So I was expecting the usual front of house view of the stage all perfectly recorded. But no -this was filmed from on stage , up, down, around and behind. So up close that I started taking a ,possibly unhealthy, interest in the appearance of sweat patches on their uniform light grey suits.
The filming is so close that you are seeing the parts rather than the whole. You are watching how they are making the song rather than listening to the song. Most of the songs on American Utopia are pretty good but it is competing with classics from the Heads catalogue and mainly from my preferred mid to late period. Watching them “construct” I Zimbra up close was fascinating.
David Byrne- he takes risks. As we know he has a limited voice but he repeatedly has to start a song bang on, perfect diction and with long slow unwavering notes – nowhere to hide.
At show’s end the camera follows them backstage- exhausted, relieved, triumphant. The closing scene has daggy old David leaving in his white puffer jacket, donning his bike helmet to cheering fans and pedalling off home.
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
If you liked the concert you will like the film
If you missed the concert this will do
If you don’t rate David Byrne maybe this will prompt a reappraisal