Duke of the Area 2 show is Bowie

by Andy Argyrakis / Daily Journal (Chicago)

9th August 2002

TINLEY PARK – What does rock and roll’s original chameleon, David Bowie, have in common with the rapid-fire rapper Busta Rhymes? How about the interactive presentation by the Blue Man Group and the turntable spinning action of John Digweed?

Although they may not share any stylistic similarities whatsoever, they all found billing on Moby’s Area Two festival this summer, which came to the Tweeter Center on Thursday. It is the most eclectic grouping of artists since Lollapalooza. (This was the second year Moby organized a diverse brigade. Area One’s acts included Incubus, The Roots and Nelly Furtado). The jaunt is only hitting 12 cities. With eight down, Bowie is clearly the leader of the pack. The Thin White Duke took the stage before Moby’s finale, highlighting every decade of his ever-changing style. As he elegantly stepped up to his throne with an ear-to-ear grin and a dapper outfit fit for royalty, Bowie touched on all the subjects that made him famous, from “Fame” to “Fashion” and beyond. The blonde-haired legend was patient in his delivery, carefully crooning each and every word to both the classics and the cuts from his new disc, “Heathen.”

“I’ve already snuck in four new tunes and you didn’t notice,” he told the adoring crowd about an hour into the set. “Hopefully you’ll like all the rest.”

It was impossible not to fall in love with everything presented from that disc, on which Bowie returns to his classic experimental rock heyday. (The ’90s saw Bowie deliver the dark and deeply personal “Hours” and the electronically-driven “Outside.”) “Heathen” standouts included the mysterious “Afraid,” the ethereal “The Angels Have Gone,” and the cover of the Pixies’s “Cactus.”

Bowie plotted his set list very well, cutting to the chase on the less familiar new material and leaving plenty of time for the classics. “Heroes” was golden, “China Girl” was enticing and “Fame” was hot and funky. “Let’s Dance” featured a waltzy introduction and slamming guitar solo, while “Ziggy Stardust” brought the 80-minute set to a raging finale. Bowie was a hard act to follow, as indicated by the facial expressions of multi-instrumentalist Moby as he hit the stage after a short intermission. Although I greatly respect Moby’s ability to blend modern dance, infectious pop and old-school soul and gospel into his material, it took a good half-hour of his rumblings to even partially leave behind the memories of Bowie’s unbeatable set from earlier in the evening…

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