6th February 1997
David Bowie sat obscured in a back-of-the-bar booth, but everyone knew he was there. Blur’s Damon Albarn and Graham Coxen, instead, milled around and capitalized on the open bar. It was no coincidence Bowie and Blur constituents were gathered at SoHo’s Don Hills tumbletown. All three were at the invitation-only party to celebrate the release of Moby’s “Animal Rights” and get a live preview of his transformation from techno dance pop to primal thrash.
Bowie didn’t need any convincing. He’ll allow Moby to perform open-heart surgery on his next single, “Dead Man Walking,” from the just-released “Earthling.” “I love what Moby did with his new album,” says Bowie, explaining his reasons for choosing the multi-talented workaholic. “He has a lot of integrity with his sound. It’s very adventurous.”
Moby and Bowie first met in the fall ’94 during the Bowie/Nine Inch Nails tour and have kept in touch ever since. Moby, for his part, is responsible for remixing Soundgarden’s “Dusty,” the Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979,” Metallica’s “Until It Sleeps” and, more recently, Blur’s “Beetlebum.”
Blur’s Damon Albarn can only hope Moby does a better job re-working Bowie’s tune than his own. Albarn was reportedly unhappy with Moby’s remixes of his band’s new single, “Beetlebum” and the steep price paid to have it gelded.
Regardless, Albarn watched intently as Moby blistered through a 45-minute set of songs culled primarily from “Animal Rights.” Introducing nearly every song with, “This song is about anal sex or suicide,” Moby blazed a new trail live, turning already frenetic numbers into raucous fits of speedcore and lust.
Before “Soft,” an expressionless Moby revealed, “This next song’s about a relationship, one that didn’t work out — like most of them don’t — and then your girlfriend starts going out with your best friend and pretty soon they’re sleeping together and you know they’ve just had sex. And maybe he’s sprayed semen all over her chest and they’re just lying there. This song is about breaking into their apartment and cutting their heads off.”
Indeed, almost all of Moby’s intros proved to be as entertaining as his songs. Earlier on, Moby announced, “Here’s a song I wrote when I was four-years-old,” before launching into an accelerated version of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid.” Later, Moby butchered the accessible dance pop song, “Feeling So Real” from “Everything is Wrong” with a surprisingly captivating country & western treatment.
“The production on [“Animal Rights”] is a bit one-dimensional but I enjoyed it tonight,” confessed Albarn after the show. “But he’s very much his own boss, I’m cool with people like that.”