The Return (again) of the Thin White Duke

by Donnacha DeLong / Sorted Magazine, Issue 3

September 1997

The Olympia was packed, a song came on the PA – “Ch-ch-changes” , the crowd roared, the crowd sang along, the song finished and the man himself appeared with an acoustic guitar and started singing “Quicksand” with nothing else but his guitar.
The crowd was entranced, the applause was rapturous. The man was brilliant, he told stories, he sang songs, he played guitar and sax.

“Changes” is the most prophetic song he’s written and it describes the gig perfectly. Bowie played songs from each era. He played “the Man Who Sold the World”, “Fame”, “Fashion”, “Hello Spaceboy” and “Little Wonder” and a shit load more. He played an hour and a half long set, followed by an hour long encore.

The band were the perfect compliment to the man who is one of the best performers in the world. There was no limit to the styles that they used to try and keep up with rock music’s chameleon. Songs would start off with a mellow trancey sound, or a drum n’ bass rhythm and finish up in an industrial barrage of guitars.

The stage set was low key, but amazing. Films played on a canvas backdrop, the band’s faces appeared on balloons and there were two huge dancing eyeballs behind the drum-kit, one green and one blue.

It is almost impossible to believe that this man is nearly 51 years old. By the end of his second 2 1/2 hour set in two days, there was no strain in his voice, no sign of tiredness in his posture, while many in the audience were ready to drop.

There has been some discussion as to whether the encore was a disappointment or not, featuring as it did long techno work-outs and experiments. The point is that Bowie is not a musician who is going to please every-body all of the time.

Over a thirty or so year career, he has accumulated such a diverse collection of style that there is no way anyone likes everything. He has become an uncompromising musician who plays what he likes, and even if you don’t particularly like it all, you’ve got to respect him.

Without doubt, the gig of the year (except possible for his gig the previous night).

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