Rock Music: A Colorful David Bowie – English Group Blends Tinsel and Rhythm

by Don Heckman / The New York Times

1st october 1972

Tinseled English rock superstars have been sprouting eagerly all over the place this season, but most, unfortunately, have looked as appealing as out-of-date Christmas trees. On Thursday night at Carnegie Hall, David Bowie, one of the most heralded – and, to American audiences, one of the most unknown – of the new theatrical rock stars proved that the whole trend hasn’t been a publicity agent’s fantasy. The mother country still has a few worthwhile exports for her erstwhile colony.

Advance stories about Bowie had most of us expecting a performance that would be little more than a transvestic fashion show with musical accompaniment. But despite Bowie’s obvious interest in unusual costuming, make-up and dyed hair, he is a solidly competent stage performer who brings a strong sense of professionalism to every move he makes. Those members of the audience – and there obviously were many – who expected a racier show received a major disappointment.

There can be no denying the outright colorfulness of Bowie and his group. He and his band members have dyed their hair various shades, from Bowie’s flaming orange to the drummer’s snow white. Their costumes, made of a shiny satin-like texture, with tight trousers tucked into laced-up boots, combined with the strangely hued hair and highlighted facial make-up to give the musicians an otherworldly appearance, almost as thought they were acting out Bowie’s fascination with science fiction.

‘Changes’ in Repertory of Unfamiliar Tunes    The music is not very familiar, aside from a few tunes – the stuttering ‘Changes’ is one – that have received some radio play in this country. Unfamiliar or not, it is good music with a sense of sectionalization and variation that has been woefully rare in much rock music lately. Bowie still doesn’t seem to know how to write an appealing melody, but this promise of his talent is crystal clear.

Most important, as a performer, Bowie delivered. He understands that theatricality has more to do with presence than with gimmickry, and that beautifully coordinated physical movements and well-planned music can reach an audience a lot quicker than aimless prancing and high-decibel electronics. In an age of publicity overkill, that alone has to be counted a major accomplishment

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Press

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s