We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to look back at Talking Heads’ searing performance of ‘Psycho Killer’ live at the Mudd Club from back in 1979.
When David Byrne and Talking Heads take to the stage you knew you were in for a treat. A band who can boast one of the finest concert films of all time in Stop Making Sense is always likely to be a great live act and Talking Heads rarely disappointed when given the opportunity to shine.
When they were afforded such an opportunity in 1979 at one of New York’s most beloved venues in the Mudd Club, Byrne and co. stepped up and delivered a set worth of its place in history. Below we’re revisiting a vibrant performance of ‘Psycho Killer’ from that show.
Six months after it opened, the Mudd Club was cited in People Magazine, the populist mag said of the venue: “New York’s fly-by-night crowd of punks, posers and the ultra-hip has discovered new turf on which to flaunt its manic chic. It is the Mudd Club…. For sheer kinkiness, there has been nothing like it since the cabaret scene in 1920s Berlin.”
With such a recommendation, it’s hard to imagine Talking Heads wanting to play anywhere else. The band didn’t shy away from their responsibility of making every punk, poser and ultra-hip attendee get on the dancefloor and forget all their troubles, if only for a short while. It’s what music is meant to be about, after all.
The band gave a set full of songs from their new album Fear of Music but it was their trusted song ‘Psycho Killer’ which elicited the greatest reaction. Byrne said of the song: “When I started writing this (I got help later), I imagined Alice Cooper doing a Randy Newman-type ballad. Both the Joker and Hannibal Lecter were much more fascinating than the good guys. Everybody sort of roots for the bad guys in movies.”
When looking at the footage below, it’s not hard to see how this track is capable of transforming a crowd into a sweating, heaving mass. The footage even comes complete with a look around the infamous Mudd Club, a virtue usually only provided with a grainy quality.
This footage is crystal clear of the band and sees the group in fine form, buoyed by their partial success with recent albums, and clearly set on delivering a powerhouse show. If you’ve not seen this footage before then it will give you a clear indication of just how transformative Talking Heads were for the New York scene. If you have seen it, then we know you’ll want to watch it again.
Below, watch Talking Heads perform ‘Psycho Killer’ live at the Mudd Club from way back in 1979.