It's a good trick for a band 30 years into its career to deliver a show that sounds as fresh as the first time you heard them, but Tom Tom Club did just that Monday night at The Depot.
Remarkably, the band led by the husband-and-wife duo of Chris Frantz (drums/vocals) and Tina Weymouth (bass/vocals)—the rhythm section of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Talking Heads—is still a bit of an underground phenomenon. This, despite the fact that one of the band's earliest singles, "Genius of Love," has literally been sampled in dozens of hip-hop and R&B songs, including Mariah Carey's monster hit "Fantasy." Tupac, Ice Cube and Public Enemy have all also sampled the sunny goodness of "Genius."
Monday night, "Genius of Love" came roughly halfway through Tom Tom Club's set opening for Psychedelic Furs. And while the Furs set would be full of familiar hits, Tom Tom Club never really broke through to the mainstream. They're mostly revered by Talking Heads fans, and by hip-hop heads who recognize the New York crew for being one of the first to introduce white rock audiences to hip-hop samples and rapping, much like Blondie did with "Rapture."
Weymouth and Frantz were joined by longtime vocalist Victoria Clamp, as well as a DJ, keyboardist/percussionist and an ace Argentine guitarist named Pablo Martine, who provided scorching guitar work all night. Weymouth and Clamp shimmied at the front of the stage in black cocktail dresses, with Weymouth's hair pulled into youthful pigtails that bobbed as she plucked her bass strings.
The set drew heavily on Tom Tom Club's self-titled 1981 debut, including songs like "Elephant," "On, On, On, On" and, of course, "Genius of Love." Another highlight was a lengthy, rap-filled "Wordy Rappinghood." A cover of "You Sexy Thing" featured Weymouth and Clamp trading verses, and the show ended with a couple of pleasing surprises via longtime Talking Heads' favorites "Take Me to the River" (an Al Green cover) and "Psycho Killer," which was actually more creepy delivered by Weymouth than the Heads' version sung by David Byrne.
Throughout, the rhythm-heavy grooves of Tom Tom Club had some in the crowd moving and grooving, and by the end of the band's hour or so on stage, the audience had come to realize they were seeing something special, offering huge cheers to the departing Clubbers. I'm pretty sure this was Tom Tom Club's first visit to Utah since the "Escape from New York" tour that stopped at Park West in 1990. Here's hoping Frantz, Weymouth and Co. come through again soon.