Techno-Bowie still rocks

by Stephen Knight / Jam Music

28th September 1997

Just when you think the guy is in the twilight of his career he comes along, knocks you on your ass, then scores a hat trick. That was the case Saturday as the Thin White Duke and his three-man, one-woman band delivered a lean two-hour performance at a packed Warehouse club.

Sure, there’s no more overblown Glass Spider or Serious Moonlight tours, but what Bowie’s act has emerged as with the current set of micro-gigs is a pared down event that’s lighter on theatrics, but no less entertaining. This, of course, is achieved through the sheer force of Bowie’s personality. The guy can turn wiping sweat off his brow into high theatre; his moves are that stylized, his smile that simultaneously sexy and disarming. Bowie, clad in khaki linen slacks and collared cotton shirt undone at the cuffs, came onstage with little fanfare and hype and warmed the crowd up with some acoustic guitar before sliding into Jean Genie.

Bowie is touring on the strength of his latest CD, Earthling, a nine-track effort that is full of manic rhythms and techno beats. As usual, Bowie slips seamlessly into the shifting pop landscape. He adapts to his surroundings, chameleon-like, and the result is another pop time capsule. Some say he’s just aping current trends. Well, maybe, but Bowie does it better than most.

The show contained a sprinkling of old favorites like Look Back In Anger, Fashion and a gorgeous version of Under Pressure (with bassist Gail Ann Dorsey singing Freddie Mercury’s verses) as well as the imposing industrial assault of newer tunes like I’m Afraid Of Americans. That tune, not surprisingly, struck a chord with the Canuck crowd. Little Wonder, a hyperspeed techno single from the new album, also got a warm reaction. “Give me my light,” Bowie chided to his crew when introducing the band. “Electricity isn’t that expensive, is it?” In addition to bassist Dorsey, Bowie’s team included Reeves Gabriel on guitar, Zachary Alford anchoring the rhythm section on drums and Mike Garson on piano and keyboards.

Bowie is a master of disguise, but he has become subtler with age. Instead of the Ziggy Stardust greasepaint, Bowie now changes character and mood with the raising of an eyebrow or the wave of an arm. He smokes a cigarette and casually belts out a tune one minute and strikes a quasi-fascist stance the next, standing erect with microphone stand as weapon. Feline movements and angry vocals. The British pop elder statesman is an unsettling mix of vulnerability and shrewdness.

A funky version of Fame as well as Dead Man Walking, White Light, White Heat and All The Young Dudes were among the encore tunes.

He may not be a Rebel, Rebel anymore, but David Bowie, who also wore black leather sandals with black painted toenails, is in this race for the long haul. Don’t count him out just yet.

Set list for Saturday, Sept. 27
1.Quicksand
2.The Supermen
3.Waiting For The Man
4.Queen Bitch
5.The Jean Genie
6.Panic In Detroit
7.I’m Afraid Of Americans
8.Look Back In Anger
9.Seven Years In Tibet
10.Battle For Britain (The Letter)
11.The Man Who Sold The World
12.Fashion
13.Looking For Satellites
14.Stay
15.Under Pressure
16.The Hearts Filthy Lesson
17.Hallo Spaceboy
18.Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)
19.Little Wonder

Encore
20.Fame
21.Dead Man Walking
22.O Superman
23.White Light White Heat
24.All The Young Dudes
Set list for Sunday, Sept. 28
1.Quicksand
2.Always Crashing In The Same Car
3.Waiting For The Man
4.My Death
5.The Jean Genie
6.Panic In Detroit
7.I’m Afraid Of Americans
8.Voyeur Of Utter Destruction (As Beauty)
9.Seven Years In Tibet
10.Battle For Britain (The Letter)
11.Strangers When We Meet
12.Fashion
13.Looking For Satellites
14.Under Pressure
15.Telling Lies
16.Hallo Spaceboy
17.Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)
18.Little Wonder

Encore
19.Is It Any Wonder
20.The Last Thing You Should Do
21.V-2 Schneider
22.White Light White Heat
23.O Superman
24.Moonage Daydream

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