Stop Making Sense is Returning to Theaters and Here is Why I Am Excited
March 26, 2023
In 1984, one of the greatest concert films ever put to screen was released. Talking Head’s Stop Making Sense was shot over the course of three nights in December 1983. Directed by Johnathan Demme, this film would captivate audiences, bringing major acclaim to every talent involved with the project. Now, after nearly forty years, the seminal movie is returning to the silver screen, in full remastered 4k fidelity. A24 announced earlier in March that the film would make its return to theatres in August of 2023, being released in tandem with a reissue of the concert’s CD, which will include songs not included on previous issues.
Stop Making Sense is a unique and masterful concert film, which utilized the medium of a concert in an incredibly creative way. Instead of the entire band taking the stage together, at the beginning of the performance, Talking Heads oriented the concert so that every track would see the addition of a band member to the stage. Thus, the concert begins with an acoustic version of “Psycho Killer” performed by front man David Byrne. The anxiety of Byrne’s lone guitar and the eerie lyrics of the song lend themselves incredibly well to this track, and thus begins a concert bursting with renditions often deemed better than their album originals. Throughout the next few tracks, members of the ensemble trickle in one by one, creating unique and building sounds that can be felt throughout the first half of the concert. Songs like “Heavan and “Slippery People” especially stand out in the first half, setting the tone for their respective portions of the concert with introspective lyrics and relatively stripped back instrumentation.
By the middle of the show, most of the ensemble have come onto the scene, and it is here where the core of the concert’s energy is found. “Life During Wartime” and “Swamp” engulf the audience with their consuming beats, making way for the softer alt ballads of “This Must Be the Place” and “Once in a Lifetime”. An interlude by The Tom Tom Club provides a small reprieve from David Byrne’s vocals, as Tina Weymouth (the bassist for the Talking Heads) leads the infectious “Genius of Love”, a song so iconic it can still be sampled today and still produce a hit. Stop Making Sense ends the show with arguably its three best performances, each packed with more energy than the last. Finally, “Crosseyed and Painless” leads the concert out, and the performance of a lifetime (recorded over three days) comes to an end.
All of this is to say that Stop Making Sense is a work of art, and more than worthy of remaster and remembrance. A24 has made a pretty smart move. David Byrne has recently collaborated with the studio, creating with the artists Mitski the end credits song of Everything Everywhere All at Once, a smash hit film. That song has now gone on to win an Oscar, being one of the many ultimately won by the film. A24’s production of this project will mean that August will be an exciting month for big suit lovers everywhere. The visually updated video and audio will create a new experience with the film, one which hopefully heightens the existing beauty of this album. Until then, there will always be the YouTube of the performance to fall back on.