This stripped-down, mostly acoustic affair captures friends Caetano Veloso and David Byrne collaborating on each other’s catalog of songs, during the Brazilian musician’s week-long Carnegie residency in 2004.
Byrne, whom Veloso invited to perform one of those nights, takes the stage 20 minutes into this set to harmonize on one of his own songs, “The Revolution,” a fitting duet for these two men who reformed music in their own respective corners of the world 30 years prior.
In the early ’70s, about the time art student Byrne dropped out of college and moved to New York to form Talking Heads, Veloso returned to his native Brazil following years of exile in London for founding the controversial Tropicalismo arts movement.
Veloso opens the evening at the Isaac Stern Auditorium with a string of beauties performed entirely in Portuguese, a gentle introduction from an activist once feared and ousted by his own homeland. And though officially a Veloso affair, it becomes Byrne’s show halfway through, with Talking Heads classics evolving into versions as they’ve never been played. He dryly introduces 1979’s “Life During Wartime” as being “more appropriate — or inappropriate — as time goes by,” and calls for cowbell on “And She Was,” courtesy of percussionist Mauro Refosco. (“Road to Nowhere” and “Nothing But Flowers” are played, too, the latter featuring Byrne and Veloso alternating lines to the crowd’s delight.)
This 18-song set, originally recorded for NPR and due on CD through Nonesuch on March 13, inspires a peaceful revolution all the way through its flawless duet closer, “Heaven.”