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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