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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Byrne Brings Reborn Beat to Moscow

He can play salsa, he can wear sideburns, he can channel all his energy into a new image. But to fans of the '80s band Talking Heads, David Byrne will always be the man in the big white suit.


Tickets went on sale Sunday for a concert by Byrne, who stalked his way into the MTV mainstream as the quirky front man for Talking Heads. Byrne is promoting his third solo effort, "David Byrne," a stripped-down album that critics have hailed as his best work in a decade. He will double-feature with Russian rock granddaddies Akvarium, who will emerge from six months of studio seclusion in his honor.


Like the funk-metal singer Henry Rollins, whose sweat pooled on stage two weeks ago at the S.P. Gorbunov Palace of Culture, Byrne is coming to Russia courtesy of Feelee Management. Like Rollins, Byrne has a minor but passionate following in Russia, mostly among musicians. To fans of alternative music, bringing Byrne and Rollins is financially risky and artistically heroic. The management hedged their bets by booking Akvarium, ensuring the attendance -- if not the enthusiasm -- of Grebenshchikov's super-mellow faithful.


Byrne, 42, surfaced out of the New York avant-garde music scene during the mid-'70s and hung onto his reputation through two decades and several incarnations -- the last hailed as his best work in a decade. He hits Moscow in the middle of a four-month world tour for "David Byrne," the album that he has said marks a new artistic beginning.


Scottish-born, Baltimore-bred, Byrne jumped from violin to accordion to guitar during his teens. Talking Heads was born when Byrne, Tina Weymouth and Chris Franz met at the Rhode Island School of Design, played together as The Artistics and then added Jerry Harrison. The 10 albums they recorded between 1975 and 1991 shaped millions of American adolescences. Talking Heads was weirder than pop, safer than punk and skirted the edge of new wave. And Byrne -- that skinny neck sticking out of that big white suit -- was the indisputable chief Head.


In 1983, the concert film "Stop Making Sense" ushered Talking Heads into the mainstream. "Burning Down the House," "Psychokiller" and "Once in a Lifetime" were crossover hits that migrated from mainstream charts to rhythm and blues and back again. When Byrne went solo after the band's grisly 1991 breakup, his biggest challenge was upstaging himself.


With "David Byrne," his third release, the artist has sloughed off the Latin influences that produced "Rei Momo" and "Uh-Oh," and gravitated back to a spare, four-piece band: Todd Turkisher on drums, Paul Socolow on bass and Mauro Refosco on mallet instruments and percussion. In reviews of the tour, critics have heralded the return of the Talking Heads-era Byrne -- but this latest work distinguishes itself by its emotional directness rather than the eccentric detachment that so captivated us in the '80s.





David Byrne and Akvarium will be playing Oct. 11 and 12 at 7 P.M. at the S.P. Gorbunov Palace of Culture, 27 Novozavodskaya Ulitsa. Tickets are on sale now, cost the ruble equivalent of $20, and are on sale at the Palace of Culture and in ticket offices citywide. Tel. 145-8305. Nearest metro: Bagrationovskaya