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Credit: Craig Howell


Revisit Talking Heads' remarkable performance of 'Born Under Punches' live in Rome, 1980


Sometimes bands can fall flat when they get out on stage in the shadow of their in-studio records. When they stand in front of a crowd it can be hard to replicate the faultless performances of the studio recordings. One band who has always excelled at both is David Byrne’s Talking Heads.

Below we’re looking at some distinctive proof of that ability as the band perform a frenetic ‘Born Under Punches’ from their album Remain In Light in the Italian capital. Talking Heads arrived in Rome back in 1980 as conquerors of the new wave sound.

The group were two months down the road from their mega-album Remain In Light and were creating a sea of funky grooves that had washed over the public and seen them burst away from the rest of the new wave movement. While Blondie and others were wearing brash make-up, David Byrne and the rest of the band were starting fires across the globe with a powerful sound.

They arrived in the Italian capital with a match and a Molotov cocktail.

It was the end of a very long tour when Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and Jerry Harrison took to the stage at the Palazzo dello Sport in Rome. The band also had Adrian Belew and Parliament-Funkadelic keyboardist Bernie Worrell sitting pretty on stage and they benefitted from the increased musicianship as the band lay down arguably one of their finest performances.

While many of the group’s shows are just nuggets of gold for those who attended and intent on mining their musical minds. Now, with no reunion in sight, it’s also something that is unlikely to change any time soon. Luckily, for all those who have never had the opportunity to catch the band, this performance was caught on film. It makes for a video volume of reasons why you should always have a Talking Heads record in your collection.

The performance at Palazzo dello Sport, not only highlights the ludicrous talent of the band, but also the impressive and improvised mercurial music they made. Unlike any new wave act, Talking Heads were happy to take several changing shapes. To add to the occasion, it is a venue which has seen some of the greatest rock and roll acts grace its stage. Talking Heads are certainly one of the best.

After an always powerful ‘Psycho Killer’ the band use the performance to explore the undulating new record, the band performed five tracks from the 14 that make up Remain In Light. Songs like ‘Houses In Motion’ and ‘Crosseyed and Painless’ are bouncy and impressive but it’s the band’s performance of ‘Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)’ which really takes the cake.

Using the prominent bassline, the band build a powerful track which moves through several different locations before its ultimate gratifying climax. It shows off the band’s talent musically and, perhaps most importantly, their ability to give a performance like no other.