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David Byrne: Live At The Union Chapel [DVD] [2005]

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Product details

  • Actors: David Byrne
  • Format: Colour, Dolby, DVD-Video, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Japanese, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Warner Music Vision
  • DVD Release Date: 28 Feb 2005
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00063MBUI
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 98,021 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


A live performance from former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, filmed at London's Union Chapel in December 2002.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Mark Simpson on 19 Jun 2005
Format: DVD
It's somewhat ironic that, roughly two decades before this DVD was released, Jonathan Demme's "Stop Making Sense" set a new benchmark for concert films. I say ironic because Byrne also features in that landmark concert, yet the production of this DVD just goes to show that some directors have learned very little.
The director sucks some of the enjoyment out of this performance with his choice of hyperactive camera work. Perhaps he was trying to convey the fervent energy of the show, or maybe he was trying to mirror DB's stereotypical twitching stage persona (who, incidentally, seems to have gone back in his box. DB seems a lot more at ease on stage than music journalists would have you believe). Either way, it wasn't necessary in my opinion; I found it irritating at times.
Also, mini-interviews with DB pepper the DVD and break the flow of the music a little (the same crazy camera work even features in these interviews, which I found rather strange). It would've been nice if these were able to be toggled as you may not wish to watch them on repeat viewings. There is also a lack of extras, which is no problem from my perspective but others may expect more.
The sound quality is very good with 5.1 as well as Stereo sound options are available from the main menu. I like the fact that the sound options are selectable from the main menu rather than hidden away in a sub menu; other DVD makers should take note!
Onto the actual show itself:
The track list of the set should satisfy nearly everybody -- from Talking Heads fans through to admirers of Byrne's latest works.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Mackenzie on 29 Sep 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Nice performance with strings. I prefer the Austin 2001 DVD from the same tour, which is a bit more punchy in the song selection. I must admit, I lost track of David Byrne but chanced upon a live show in 2009 and was blown away. His back catalogue is better than I thought and the 2012-3 shows with St Vincent have been amazing and need a live DVD released (please - and with not too many camera cuts, a complete show with the whole stage in view all the time would be perfect, if it must be edited with multicamera angles, have this as a menu option).
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Boondoggle on 8 Mar 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
What to say ? It's a good show. Davids band are as good as ever and the performances are great. The only thing missing is some movement. Maybe it's the venue, but I always find a lot of DB's music makes you want to dance or move in some way. Live At Union Chapel is a much more calm & quiet affair for the most part. The audience do get up at times, but overall it much more sedate than other shows. Good dvd though, David is just as charming as I remember him.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 27 reviews
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Burning Down the Chapel 15 Dec 2004
By o dubhthaigh - Published on
Format: DVD
David Byrne is amazing and this DVD is every bit as nuanced and inventive and humourous and fun as STOP MAKING SENSE. It hasn't the manic over the top energy of the TH film, but it is just as brilliant a concert. Byrne is in spectacular form and after so many years of wandering about in wherever he was wandering about, this tour presents him with his vision fully formed and heading in exciting directions.

The instrumentation is more stripped down than in SMS, but old chestnuts from his previous life as well as new songs from his most recent disc are each delivered with passion and commitment. This must have been an extraordinary experience. Even on DVD, it is hard to resist the urge to dance hurky-jerky with the Pinnochio of Rock. His limbs are as limber as ever and his oddness has all the same endearing elements to it as he has ever had, and now with the years registered in his grey hair and his wisdom infused with time, his observations pack a poignancy you don't get from many another.

I really can't pick out a highlight. Maybe "Naive Melody", which carries all the same emotional honesty now as it ever has. In so many ways, he is "the same as he ever was," only with the grace of time deepening his shadow. Union Chapel looks terrific in the film. The setting is beyond perfect for Byrne. Production quality is of the highest calibre. You would expect nothing less from him. From "Nothing But Flowers" through to the encore, this is a categorcial triumph as a film, as music, as an emotional sojourn. Great stuff. Hope you pick this up and enjoy it.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Will Someone Please Pull the #%* Camera Back?!!! 10 Sep 2005
By piperglenn - Published on
Format: DVD
First of all I want to make clear that I think the music in this DVD is absotlutely fantastic. Inventive string arrangements have taken the place of keyboards and it works. I also enjoyed the comments DB makes in between some of the songs.

Having gotten that out of the way: It is obvious that if the director watched the outstanding Talking Heads' concert film "Stop Making Sense," then, she obviously learned nothing. She has fallen prey to the MTV generation, short attention span, claustrophobic type cinematography that can best be described as Cinema For Those With Attention Deficit Disorder. Had the director learned anything from SMS, she would have realized that what made that concert film so great was that the director didn't call attention to the camera techniques being applied. She also would've learned to give us shots with at least two people in them for at least, oh say, ten seconds. Instead we get shots from DB's waist up or from his chin to his forehead. The few times that we are treated to a shot of the whole stage the camera has to zoom in. I guess the director knows what we want to see better than we do. Unfortunately for us, she doesn't realize that half the fun of watching DB is, well, getting to watch all of DB; NOT JUST HIS FREAKIN' HEAD!!!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Worthwhile but... why the Union Chapel? 30 Jun 2005
By spiral_mind - Published on
Format: DVD
I'd say it was a mostly-seized opportunity. Overall this film is a good idea and a live DB release of any kind was long overdue. His music is accessible and invigorating as ever, expertly firing brain cells and making hips sway all at the same time. If this had been filmed in a club or theater conducive to the upbeat quirky-pop atmosphere of a Byrne show, there'd be no question about the full five stars. Alas though, it's in Islington's Union Chapel and the whole stained-glass-and-stone vibe really doesn't fit.

Don't get me wrong; it's a gorgeous place and the architecture makes for some wonderful visuals (perfect for the operatic "Un di Felice" if nothing else), but the somber atmosphere can't quite be shaken. The audience sits stone-still through the first two peppy numbers until David shyly tells them it's ok to dance.. but even once they start bouncing and bobbing, things stay a tad too subdued. Worse yet, the bridge & last verse of "Once in a Lifetime" are cut out. I *hope* that's just a glitch on my copy, otherwise it's one of the clumsiest editing jobs I've ever heard (not to mention a hanging offense).

Despite my complaints though, there's still a whole lot to recommend here. The set selection is superb. The band (bass/drums/percussion and the six-piece Tosca Strings) gives a beautiful reinvented feel to the material, and of course the songs themselves are excellent. The quiet slow parts are peppered in just the right places, and the rest is as upbeat & catchy as you could hope for. There's even a priceless addition to the 'Great Covers Of Songs I Used To Hate' file - if anyone could make a Whitney Houston tune not only listenable but enjoyable, it's David Byrne.

Obviously this is a proposition for existing fans, so if those flaws aren't too prohibitive (and they shouldn't be), this DVD will still be well worth your time. Who ever thought we'd see violins & cellos tackle "Life During Wartime"?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Not SMS, still good tho 17 July 2006
By Joseph Geni - Published on
Format: DVD
Congrats, you're a Talking Heads and/or David Byrne fan and you stumbled across this DVD and what you really want to know is, is it really a 5-star knock-down brilliant masterpiece? In short, is it as good as Stop Making Sense? Well, no it isn't.

Bummer. Well, then is it a dreadful, disastrous 1-star fiasco that you should avoid like the plague? Well, no, it isn't that either.

For starters, it's very different than Stop Making Sense was. Just the setting by itself is different. Union Chapel isn't a big, broad stage but a smaller, intimate setting, with myriad lights playing off the stained glass paintings overhead. Byrne's lead mic is probably not 10 feet from the front row pews, which curve around the stage in almost a semi-circle. Byrne also talks to the audience (and, unfortunately, to the camera: pieces of an interview with Byrne, which would have made a great bonus feature, are disruptively dropped in between songs). So the classic Stop Making Sense trick of not showing the audience until the very end simply wouldn't work here. It's a more interactive performance. Don't worry, though, the crowd shots are few and generally tastefully done. The video direction is not Jonathan Demme brilliant and is too fond of closeups, but neither does it make frenetic cuts from one thing to another every half-second.

And as for the music itself? Well, David Byrne has gone in a lot of directions since he left the Heads, and a fair number of them are on display here, from sambas to operatics, and a number of Heads songs that postdate SMS, like "Nothing But Flowers" and "Road to Nowhere," which turn out to be terrific live cuts. More importantly, though, the SOUND of Byrne's band has changed. Gone are the muscular keyboards and the righteously jubilant backup singers. In their place is a--gasp!--string section, which on tracks like Life During Wartime works a lot better than you'd think. The percussion is there in full, though it's more delicate and less aggressive than the Heads' were. Byrne often sings alone, and if he's joined it's usually by his crooning bassist. The ultimate result is a thinner, more acoustic sound, with relatively gentle crescendos and few to none of the spacy 80s synthesizers or funky distorted guitars. Even Byrne's voice is a bit reedier than before, though he remains the dynamic singer he always was.

So in sum, this will inevitably be compared to Stop Making Sense, and perhaps unfairly so. Because SMS was just maybe the best rock concert ever put to tape. Live at Union Chapel is just a pretty darn good show. It may not be as memorable, but it's still a lot of fun.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Delightful 26 Oct 2004
By Quinn P. Costello - Published on
Format: DVD
Some day everybody will realize what an important contribution David Byrne has made to popular music. This guy has never lost one iota of credibility. His most recent tour (represented on this DVD) features some of his most sophisticated arrangements and a varied setlist. The one thing that bothers me about going to David Byrne concerts is that some in the audience would prefer to hear only the Talking Heads hits. Even though Byrne delivers some incredible versions of those songs (Sax and Violins is probably the best of this tour) his really incredible stuff is culled from his solo career. Watch this DVD and then go out and buy all of his music. Also be sure to watch his documentary "The House of Life" for a little insight into where some of the inspiration for "Rei Momo" came from. Another suggestion is the "Waking Life" soundtrack from the Tosca Tango Orchestra...the string section on his last two tours.
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