Music has always been David Byrne’s medium, though it’s hardly managed to contain him; there’s little the rock star, raconteur, playwright, erstwhile actor, and lifelong bicycle evangelist hasn’t dipped into over the course of a nearly half-century career.
Including, of course, documentary — most memorably in Jonathan Demme’s Stop Making Sense, the now-legendary 1984 concert film that captured Byrne’s inimitable misfit-toy charisma at the peak of its powers. At 68, the former frontman of seminal art-pop pioneers Talking Heads may no longer be that urgent young man in the oversize suit, but his muse remains excellently restless, as evidenced by the release of the vibrant 2018 album American Utopia.
Now the lauded tour and limited Broadway run that followed the record has become its own movie, this time under the direction of Spike Lee — another Oscar-winning filmmaker who, like the late Demme, understands that a David Byrne show is inherently as much theater as it is song. (And in Utopia’s case, a full-fledged dance performance too, choreographed by the celebrated postmodern choreographer Annie-B Parson.)