In their latest evolutionary phase, Talking Heads members once more proved themselves the most consistently unpredictable band in rock. Their frenetic, kinetic set at the Merriweather Post Pavilion last night kept the crowd on its feet and dancing for almost three hours.
The band has gone from producing insular new wave rock to urgent, pancultural dance rhythms.
To emphasize the group's changeable nature, leader David Byrne entered alone on an unadorned stage playing the band's first hit, "Psycho Killer," on an acoustic guitar, accompanied only by a throbbing taped pulse. With each song another member entered and equipment was wheeled on stage, until the group became a nine-piece funkestra.
As always, Byrne was riveting, a visual hybrid of Charlie Chaplin and Tony Perkins in a voluminous gray suit. Loose-limbed and limber, Byrne cavorted around the stage, and sang with new full-throated joy, compared to the strangled stuttering he began with five years ago.
All the band members swapped instruments and at one point metamorphosed into its splinter group, the Tom Tom Club, for a Caribbean-flavored "Genius of Love."
The band's three encores included the fundamentalist fervor of Al Green's "Take Me To the River," and ended with a repeat of the inflammatory "Burning Down the House," which had some audience members flinging themselves on and off stage and the rest of the crowd dancing until they melted down.