Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne has received a special Tony Award for his Broadway concert American Utopia.
Considering how beleaguered the live show industry has been in recent times owing to the pandemic, the award represents not just a celebration of the show itself, but the return of live performances in general. Few concerts are more befitting of this celebratory nature of collectivism than Byrne’s brilliant creation.
The 74th annual Tony Award was originally scheduled for way back in June 2020, but naturally, pandemic-induced delays have forced endless rescheduling. Now, however, a week after American Utopia returned to Broadway after closing in February 2020, it has rightfully been awarded.
At the Tony telecast on the weekend (September 26th), David Byrne arrived on his bicycle to accept and a special award for an outstanding production that didn’t fit into any of the standard competitions categories. During his acceptance speech, the star eulogised the importance of collective rituals like concerts and the need to protect them.
As for the show itself, back upon its first broadcast, we declared it the second greatest concert film of all time. Writing: “36 years on from his part in the seminal Talking Heads concert film, Stop Making Sense, David Byrne was once again not only reinventing the wheel but somehow coming up with a superior way around it.”
“What if we could eliminate everything from the stage except the stuff we care about the most,” is the premise that David Byrne had in mind for his wireless and restriction-free concert film. With the help of legendary filmmaker Spike Lee, he managed to take that innovative idea to exultant new heights and disavowed the gimmicky potential of the quirk by transfiguring it into the most deeply humanised live film ever made.”
Later concluding: “In short, this is not only one of the greatest live shows of all time, but the film that the world needs right now.”
You can check out a trailer for the show below, as well as footage of Byrne’s acceptance speech.