Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew famously toured together with Jerry’s band the Talking Heads in 1980-1981 when the band expanded past its four core members for an ambitious album, Remain in Light.
That extraordinary work has withstood the test of time, and Jerry and Adrian currently celebrate it with a tour that borrows its name. Harrison and Belew recently brought their show to the Lincoln Theatre in DC, where they performed more than a dozen Talking Heads songs in a really funky show with jam band Cool Cool Cool.
In today’s music landscape, bands have dusted off rare songs and groups have reunited for anniversary tours. No sound from the Talking Heads on the current touring scene is in itself *deafening* and disappointing. Enter Jerry Harrison, cool dude, guitarist, keyboardist, and all-around Renaissance Man. Jerry enlisted Adrian Belew, one of the world’s greatest guitarists to revisit their Talking Heads days, and a collaboration was born.
On June 22 at the Lincoln Theatre, Jerry and Adrian performed their celebratory embrace of the Talking Heads with keen eyes and ears. They carefully applied their master musicality and smarts to curating a show of Talking Heads songs that respects the original music while also breathing a touring life into these unforgettable songs. People absolutely knew they were in the right place when Jerry and Adrian kicked off the show with “Psycho Killer” from the 1977 Talking Heads debut studio album, Talking Heads: 77, with Adrian on lead vocals.
Watch the official music video for “Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads on YouTube:
The ingenious selection of songs continued with the wonderfully unpredictable “I Zimbra,” the song that appears on Talking Heads’ 1979 album Fear of Music. The song adapted dadaist Hugo Ball’s poem Gadji beri bimba, and Jerry has identified it as his favorite Talking Heads song.
At that point, of course, Jerry, Adrian, and Cool Cool Cool performed music from Remain in Light, that 1980 album that originally united Jerry and Adrian. Early in the show, they performed “Crosseyed and Painless” and “Houses in Motion.” Later in the show, the band added the extraordinary hit “Once in a Lifetime” and in the encore “The Great Curve.”
Jerry was totally in the groove as he switched from guitar to keyboards. Adrian was on fire as he threw his guitar into the mix. The seven members of Cool Cool Cool grooved and burned alongside them, wrapping Jerry and Adrian in their own smooth chemistry. This band, along with Jerry and Adrian, really became a unit in their time together, and the whole thing really works. Cool Cool Cool brought a lot of good stuff to the performance with their saxophone, trumpet, drums, and more.
Jerry and Adrian traded vocal duties, and members of Cool Cool Cool also stepped in for lead vocals for songs that fit. The ladies of Cool Cool Cool — Shira Elias and Sammi Garett — sang a welcome version of “Slippery People” from Speaking in Tongues (1983). In an interview, Jerry told Parklife that he was inspired to apply the female voices to the song by the Staples Singers cover of the number. Jerry sang lead vocals on “I Zimbra” and another essential Talking Heads song, “Life During Wartime” also from Fear of Music.
Back in March, Jerry and Adrian took the show to Baltimore, and that looked like the closest it would get to DC. Thankfully, another leg materialized, and the gents brought this tremendous show here. The Lincoln Theatre became a party as guests quickly abandoned their seats to dance in the aisles.
The Remain in Light Tour has wrapped its current tour dates, but let’s hope we hear from Jerry and Adrian again soon.
Here are some photos of Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew performing with members of Cool Cool Cool at the Lincoln Theatre in DC on June 22, 2023. All pictures by Mickey McCarter.