Watch the Talking Heads Play Live in Dortmund, Germany During Their Heyday (1980)

Back in 2012, we featured a 1975 Talking Heads concert at CBGB, referencing Generation X author Douglas Coupland’s telling definition of who, exactly, constitutes that cohort: “If you liked the Talking Heads back in the day, then you’re probably X.” Simultaneously ironic and sincere, artistic and commercial, ramshackle and polished, cerebral and impulsive: the sensibilities of David Byrne’s influential new-wave band and the zeitgeist profile of Generation X share too many qualities to list. 1975, for a Gen Xer, would certainly count as “back in the day,” though perhaps a bit too far back in the day for many of them to have gained entrance to such a vibrantly scuzzy venue as CBGB. Just five years later, though, many more of them would have come of just enough age to engage with the Heads, who by that point had blown up in popularity, playing huge venues all over the world.

You may have seen the band playing Rome in 1980 when we posted that show in 2012, and today we give you another of their European gigs from that same breakout year, in Dortmund. That location, about 250 miles from Coupland’s Canadian Air Force base birthplace in Germany, in a Germany still divided, brings to mind not just the importance of themes of the late Cold War to the novelist’s work, but to Generation X itself, the last kids to grow up under the credible threat of sudden nuclear annihilation. Such an uneasy psychological and ideological environment would have an effect on the formation of anyone’s creative mind, as it must also have on that of Generation X’s predecessors, the Baby Boomers — a group in which the 1952-born Byrne falls right in the middle. The Cold War may have ended, but the Talking Heads’ music, as you’ll experience in this Dortmund concert, transcends both temporal and geographical context.

Set list:

  1. “Psycho Killer”
  2. “Cities”
  3. “Zimbra”
  4. “Once in a Lifetime”
  5. “Animals”
  6. “Crosseyed and Painless”
  7. “Life During Wartime”
  8. “The Great Curve”

Related Content:

The Talking Heads Play CBGB, the New York Club that Shaped Their Sound (1975)

Live in Rome, 1980: The Talking Heads Concert Film You Haven’t Seen

Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” Performed on Traditional Chinese Instruments

David Byrne: How Architecture Helped Music Evolve

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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