I have no rational explanation why the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense has had such a magical effect on me.
When I first saw it, I’d only ever heard the Heads through the occasional song on the radio, such as “Burning Down the House.” I went to see the movie only because it received rapturous reviews from all quarters.
But for some reason, as soon as the credits rolled and I heard the concert audience murmur in anticipation, I just knew I was going to see something different. And when David Byrne nonchalantly walked on-stage and launched into “Psycho Killer,” I felt like I was right there with the rest of the audience, cheering him on.
Refreshingly, the movie takes what one of its group called a “no-bullshit” approach to its concert. The group’s other members — Tina Weymouth, her husband Chris Franz, and Jerry Harrison, and backup musicians Lynn Mabry, Ednah Holt, Bernie Worrell, Steve Scales, and Alex Weir — join the group on-stage one-by-one with each successive song. Stagehands set up props and lighting as needed, right on camera. No frills — they’re not driving themselves into a frenzy to win you over.
As a result, the whole thing comes off less as an elaborate rock concert than an intimate stage show, which is just how Byrne conceived it. Instead of distancing themselves, the musicians draw you in. And with the beautiful, clear music they offer, it’s an invitation to happiness.
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