Live At Carnegie Hall
This live album pairing Caetano Veloso and David Byrne was actually recorded back in 2004. But this is its official outing. Caetano Veloso is an important figure in Brazilian music – and clearly his influence is felt by Byrne, you can hear it here in them taking turns to sing, and of course we know of Byrne’s “world” music fascination, his promotion – and its impact and influence on his final Talking Heads music and then on across his solo career.
But this concert starts out with Caetano singing on his own, before Byrne offers a short set and then they sing together. You can hear in Veloso’s voice now some sounds that might have influenced Byrne’s vocal delivery.
It’s been a few years since I’ve listened to Veloso and though nothing here is quite the revelation that his finest work offered it’s simply nice to hear from him again. And you have to figure that part of the magic of this – part of the spirit of it, from Byrne’s side – is in introducing more people to the name (and sound) of Veloso. I’m not sure his lightly plucked folk cooing is the very best introduction however. But his half-dozen songs are pleasant enough with a few highlights.
More interesting – and rewarding – is Byrne’s set. Reworking some of the great Talking Heads songs (Life During Wartime) Byrne sounds fantastic, lively, so very present; it’s a fine example of his wide-eyed, bright-eyed approach. And he manages to make Road To Nowhere (so tired, so played out, so very boring as to make you cringe when that faux-gospel intro kicks in on the studio version) sound vital once again. It’s the best version of the song. And though And She Was is simply served up in a way similar to the early/mid-1990s live shows Byrne was doing (circa Rei Momo) it’s also a surprisingly nice-to-hear rendition.
The final five songs feature Veloso and Byrne together and there are further highlights with the closing Heaven and before that (Nothing But) Flowers; a song I always rated as one of the great Talking Heads songs. But then I’m a fan of Naked.