Jerry Harrison & Adrian Belew: REMAIN IN LIGHT
Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, BC
May 18, 2023
On their ‘Remain In Light’ tour in 1980, the Talking Heads arrived in Rome as conquerors of the new wave sound. Inspired by video of this tour stop in the Italian capital, the tour served as the catalyst for Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew’s own ‘Remain in Light’ concert series that stopped in Vancouver last Thursday night.
Harrison, the seminal New York new wave band’s guitarist and keyboardist, was producing a 2014 film about Memphis music called “Take Me to the River” and often visited Nashville-based Belew, the eventual King Crimson guitarist who played on that 1980 tour.
The original intention was to stage a tour throughout 2020 — the actual 40th anniversary of ‘Remain in Light’ — but the pandemic had other plans.
‘Remain in Light’ remains a creative milestone in the Talking Heads catalogue; one that focused on the explosive creativity of Harrison, guitarist and singer David Byrne, bassist Tina Weymouth and drummer Chris Frantz at the turn of the ’80s.
Establishing themselves as influencers with their first three works — ‘Talking Heads: 77,’ 1978’s ‘More Songs About Buildings and Food’ and 1979’s ‘Fear of Music’ — it was 1980’s ‘Remain in Light’ that found the quartet deciding to expand their live presence into a 10-piece band.
For the current tour, Cool Cool Cool were the backing band for Harrison and Belew, filling the expanse initially covered by the Talking Heads supergroup for a set list that was mostly from 1979’s ‘Fear of Music’ and 1980’s ‘Remain in Light’.
Cool Cool Cool is Shira Elias and Sammi Garett (vocals), Craig Brodhead (guitar), Chris Brouwers (trumpet), Michael Carubba (drums), Greg Sanderson (tenor saxophone), and Josh Schwartz (vocals, baritone saxophone). They were joined by bassist Julie Slick, best known for playing with Adrian Belew’s power trio, and percussionist Yahuba Garcia-Torres.
The seven members of Cool Cool Cool also opened for Harrison and Belew with a 45-minute set.
Harrison and Belew took the stage, accompanied by Cool Cool Cool, Julie Slick, and percussionist Yahuba Garcia-Torres, starting the show with the iconic “Psycho Killer”.
Vocals were mainly shared by Harrison and Belew, but members of Cool Cool Cool also took lead on some tracks.
There was very little interaction with the crowd, Harrison and Belew were no talking heads, but it was clear that the musicians were having a great time on stage. Belew rarely stopped smiling, and while Harrison usually had a more serious look, you could tell by his body language and playing that he was really enjoying himself.
At one point, Belew left the stage and Harrison launched into a triumphant version of his solo hit “Rev It Up” from 1988’s ‘Casual Gods’. The band also did a great version of “Slippery People” during Belew’s absence. Harrison then took a break himself while Belew led the band into King Crimson’s “Thela Hun Ginjeet” from 1981’s ‘Discipline’.
The biggest challenge on this tour is that of replacing the vocal charisma of David Byrne. This was done with a communal approach. Saxophonist Josh Schwartz handled lead vocals on “Crosseyed and Painless” with female singers Shira Elias and Sammi Garrett also joining in. The three-song kickoff included Harrison’s spoken-word vibe of “Houses in Motion,” with the added trumpet from Chris Brouwers. Throughout the night, Belew also pounced on his Stratocaster with exultant joy.
“I don’t always say this to everyone, but I’m going to say it and I truthfully mean it.” said Adrian Belew at the end of the 90-minute plus show. “This has been so much fun having you here with us. And coming back to Vancouver. I’ve always loved this place. We all love this place. And this is the last night of this leg of our tour, so it’s even more special.”
Psycho Killer (Talking Heads cover)
Crosseyed and Painless (Talking Heads cover)
Houses in Motion (Talking Heads cover)
I Zimbra (Talking Heads cover)
Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) (Talking Heads cover)
Cities (Talking Heads cover)
Rev It Up (Jerry Harrison cover)
Slippery People (Talking Heads cover)
Thela Hun Ginjeet (King Crimson cover)
Life During Wartime (Talking Heads cover)
Once in a Lifetime (Talking Heads cover)
Take Me to the River (Al Green cover)
Drugs (Talking Heads cover)
The Great Curve (Talking Heads cover)