There are very few bands which combine the artistic ethos, lasting appeal, critical integrity and the reputation for live shows as Talking Heads did. David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth, and Jerry Harrison achieved almost cult-like status over a 25 year period until they disbanded in 1991. However, they were at the height of their powers in 1983 when they went on tour in support of their commercial breakthrough, Speaking in Tongues. It was ultimately their last tour.
In December 1983 director Jonathan Demme filmed the tour as it stopped off at Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre. Shot over the course of three nights, Stop Making Sense is often lauded as the greatest tour documentary of all time. There was careful planning behind the enterprise and from the opening credits it’s clear that it’s going to be anything but ordinary. The newly restored edition (with more than 60,000 instances of dirt and scratches removed) makes the experience even more vital and exhilarating.
Stop Making Sense is built from the ground up, and this is certainly the case with the stage set. Entering the arena with just an acoustic guitar and a ‘boom box’, David Byrne opens proceedings on a bare stage. The set is constructed in front of our eyes (the hands dressed all in black like the Kuroko in Kabuki theatre) and it’s a marvellous thing to behold; an incredible feat of choreography. The sheer twitchy energy of Byrne and the enthusiasm from the rest of the band and performers brings the concert to life in your living room. It’s riveting stuff and unparalleled as an audio-visual experience.
Bonus Tracks – ‘Cities’, Big Business’ / ‘I Zimbra’
One hour band press conferene
Audio commentary with the band and Jonathan Demme
Stop Making Sense is released on DVD & Blu-ray by Second Sight on Monday.