Time travel trip to 1984 and the “Stop Making Sense” Talking Heads concert

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Forget surround sound and 3D. I just had the most immersive movie experience imaginable! Dancing up a sweat, surrounded by a sizable group of likeminded folks as the Talking Heads’ wonderful concert film “Stop Making Sense” unspooled before us at the Rio Theatre.

It was good enough at first just seeing this film again after 30 years, with the impossibly rail-thin David Byrne, along with Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz and Jerry Harrison, and a host of additional musicians, providing a string of remarkably catchy tunes.

With the infectious melodies and rhythms pulsing away, a knot of people formed at the front right corner of the room, moving to the groove, reacting to antics onscreen and cheering along with the 1984 audience after each irresistible number. Suddenly, it was like the screen somehow dissolved, and I was as close as I’m ever likely to get to a Talking Heads concert – and certainly the closest I’ll EVER get to having actually being at the original concert at Hollywood’s Pantages Theatre. And that was darn close. It actually almost felt like I was there. Wonderful to see sometimes-staid Vancouverites getting their bums out of the seats and doing some spontaneous booty-shaking!

Take that, Netflix – there are still some experiences that can only occur when random strangers gather together in a movie theatre.

As for the film, the stripped-down and straight-ahead presentation really stands the test of time, with the band forming one member at a time until the stage, and the sound, is full and irresistably danceable – as it turned out!

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Talking Heads – they formed an essential part of the soundtrack of my college days – but I had forgotten just how catchy and, yes, funky their sound could be, and how melodically rich their material was. They combined a quirky and intellectual aesthetic with solid musicianship and songcraft, and it really shows in Stop Making Sense. The dynamic way it played out tonight just confirms their timeless appeal.

All in all, a great night at the movies that exceeded even my high expectations, and a reminder that Netflix can only take you so far –  there is no substitute for the live and unpredictable experience of a roomful of strangers at a theatre!

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