Jerry Harrison an Adrian Belew "Remain In Light" @ Rams Head Live – March 4th 2022
Jerry Harrison an Adrian Belew "Remain In Light" @ Rams Head Live – March 4th 2022

Live Review: Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew “Remain In Light” @ Rams Head Live – March 4th 2023

When Talking Heads’ fourth album, Remain In Light, was released in 1980, it signaled not only a dramatic shift in sound for the band, but also for popular music as a whole. The stark, post-punk sound of the band’s early releases was left behind in favor of complex arrangements, guest musicians, and experiments in polyrhythms that presaged the interest in world music that many major artists would embrace in the decade to follow. Four decades later, the album still sounds fresh and timeless.

A Talking Heads reunion is probably never in the cards – between the well-known acrimony between singer David Byrne and the other members of the band, and all of them being busy with their own projects anyway, the quartet will likely never share a stage again. But the band’s keyboardist and guitarist Jerry Harrison couldn’t let the anniversary of such a monumental album go uncelebrated, so he and guitarist Adrian Belew (who featured as a guest on many of the Remain In Light album tracks, and also joined as a member of the extended band for the tour that followed) convened for a few shows paying tribute to it last year. These were so successful that they were extended into a full tour this year, which came this past Saturday to Rams Head Live in Baltimore.

To back them, Harrison and Belew recruited Brooklyn-based funk band Cool Cool Cool (made up of former members of the band Turkuaz), who also played an opening set. The match was well made, with the group showing obvious influence from Talking Heads in their own music.

Of course the question likely on everyone in the audience’s mind as they waited for the band to take the stage was this – how well they could pull it off? As some of the most iconic music of its time, anyone performing it now (even Harrison himself) has a lot to live up to. The answer, fortunately, was “spectacularly.” It probably helps that by the time Remain In Light was toured, Talking Heads had expanded as a touring outfit to far more than the four core members. So in many ways, the eleven person band on stage for this show served very much to recreate that energy. The sheer charisma of Byrne was missing, but his part was still more than adequately made up for by Harrison, Belew, and saxophonist Josh Schwartz splitting the lead vocal duties between them. Most importantly, the songs sounded great, and still withstand the test of time.

Although the show was centered on Remain In Light, Harrison and Belew chose not to focus on it exclusively, mixing in a number of earlier and later Talking Heads tracks, including “Psycho Killer,” “I Zimbra,” “Slippery People,” and “Life During Wartime.” Two of the highlights of the show happened when they broke away from Talking Heads material entirely, performing “Rev It Up” from Harrison’s 1988 solo album Casual Gods, and “Thela Hun Ginjeet” from King Crimson’s Discipline.

While several shows on the tour are already past, there are still a good number of chances available to see them throughout the US in the coming months – as headliners through May, and then in a series of dates supporting Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade in June. If you’re a Talking Heads fan, this show is well worth your time.

Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew setlist

Psycho Killer
Crosseyed and Painless
Houses in Motion
I Zimbra
Drugs
Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)
Cities

Rev It Up
Slippery People
Thela Hun Ginjeet
Life During Wartime
Once in a Lifetime
Take Me to the River
The Great Curve

PHOTOS © MATT CONDON

Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew

Cool Cool Cool