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Ether Festival 09 Launches with Eno in London

John Eyles By

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The second number of the set was Talking Heads' "I Zimbra," and it was met by sustained applause; this was obviously what much of the audience had come for. The set's Talking Heads songs did not venture beyond the Eno trilogy, so there was no "Love Goes To A Building On Fire," "Psycho Killer" or "Road To Nowhere." However, their exclusion left room for plenty of great songs—"Houses In Motion," "Heaven," "Crosseyed And Painless," "Once In A Lifetime," "Life During Wartime," "Take Me To The River," "Air" and "Burning Down The House" reads like a "best of" list.

On "I Zimbra," the band was joined on stage by three dancers whose athleticism and choreography were excellent. Fittingly, the set's only song not from an Eno collaboration was "My Big Hands (Fall Through The Cracks)" from The Catherine Wheel, written to accompany a Twyla Tharp choreographed event. As Byrne said, the choreography of the dancers was not Tharp's, but it was inspired and inventive, integrating moves from old Talking Heads videos with wit and imagination. Byrne as well as the backing singers and band members were integrated into the choreography—Byrne himself was moved around by the dancers and was even leapfrogged over at one point. Altogether, the choreography was in the Talking Heads tradition of combining engaging images with their music. The combination of music and dance ensured that by mid-set the entire audience was on its feet and dancing too.

The band was called back repeatedly for encores and was happy to oblige. Byrne eventually brought things to a suitable conclusion with the low-key "Everything That Happens"—as good an advert for the latest album as any. Londoners who missed these shows will be pleased to know that Byrne plays the Barbican on August 3rd as part of this tour. Doubtless, many who were here will return for more in August; yes, it was that good.

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