Every so often, Jimmy Kimmel takes his late-night talk show east, taping a week of shows at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music. When he does that, he likes to invite New York luminaries onto his show. On Monday night, he got a sit-down audience with Bruce Springsteen. Last night, Kimmel’s two interview subjects were Kelly Ripa and Benedict Cumberbatch, neither of whom I would really characterize as New York legends. (No shots at Kelly Ripa, who seems delightful.) But Kimmel did have a New York legend as a musical guest: David Byrne.
Byrne is a Baltimore native, and he formed the Talking Heads in Providence, but he will forever be associated with the explosion of creativity in New York in the late ’70s. And Byrne remains a relentlessly creative force. Last year, Byrne teamed up with old comrade Brian Eno on his American Utopia album. And earlier this month, he launched his Broadway show. David Byrne’s American Utopia, currently running at the Hudson Theatre six nights a week, is about halfway between residency and straight-up Broadway show, and it looks amazing. Last night, Jimmy Kimmel Live gave us a little taste of it.
Byrne didn’t sing a new song on Kimmel. Instead, he trotted out “One Fine Day” — not the Chiffons girl-group classic but a number from Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, the lovely and underrated collaborative album that Byrne and Eno released in 2008. And he performed the hell out of it, reminding all of us that Stop Making Sense is the best live-concert movie ever made.
Byrne started out the performance backstage, as the Kimmel cameras captured him walking past a sign that said “don’t worry, David Byrne.” Onstage, Byrne was joined by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and by Mauro Refosco, a Brazilian percussionist who’s been a close Byrne collaborator for years. There was no backing band. Byrne sang the hell out of the song, reworking the arrangement as a choral-voices-and-drums thing that fit the song beautifully. I loved it. Watch it below, and while you’re at it, watch a trailer for Byrne’s Broadway show.
David Byrne’s American Utopia is running six days a week at the Hudson Theatre until 1/19. You can find details here.