Pyramid Stage, Glastobury Festival

by 1. Dave and 2. KC / NME

July 2000

1. At a push, it was the evening of legends. There was the legendary freewheelin’ puppy eyed outlaw songwriting Legend, the loose ever rolling self-imploding E-fuelled Legends, the legendary underacheiving will never quite make it but are still legends in their own minds semi-Legends and the androgynous shape shifting complete, utter unquestionable Legend.

….Leaving the others aside for a second, it should be noted that David Bowie works at a level beyond and above anyone else at this festival.

….He breezed onto the stage in a long frock coat, finely-tailored slacks and a pair of Cuban heels looking every bit the 18th century gent. You see, the Thin White Duke has now morphed again and found himself a new role. After almost two decades spent groping about trying to repeat the winning formula of the 1970s he has realised that we only want to hear the killer tunes. So he has put together a greatest hits show that drips with class. Not only did we get ‘Space Oddity‘ and ‘Rebel Rebel‘ and ‘Changes‘ and ‘The Man Who Sold The World‘ and ‘All the Young Dudes‘ and ‘Heroes‘ and any number of others you care to mention, but he delivered a little soliloquy with each, chronicling their conception and where they come in the great man’s canon. He also experimented with a completely new sound system that delivered all in crystal clear DVD clarity. The Thin White Duke, it seems, was lording it up and almost 80,000 loyal subjects lapped it up. Just no more Tin Machine, eh Dave.

2. Blimey, he’s good. No, better than that, David Bowie bloody well patented pop music, and we all forgot. “Did he play any old stuff,” is the stock enquiry later on, to which we take a deep breath and begin: he did the bleedin’ lot, mate. His first three songs alone indicate the breadth and intent of this fantastic performance: ‘Wild Is The Wind‘ (overwrought, magnificently so); ‘China Girl‘ (camp, Jimmy’s tune; rumours that Iggy was due for a guest appearance prove as reliable as the previous day’s Paul-McCartney-joins-Travis effort); and ‘Changes‘ (age-old and sounding brand new). Looking like a vitrified Barbie doll, the Grand Dame of Britpop goes off on one, pure and simple, jigging around the stage like your pissed uncle at a wedding. “I haven’t been here for 30 years!” he giggles. “And I’m having a fucking great time!” Come the encore and he’s abandoned any semblance of cool, leaping up and down and exhorting a stunned crowd to sing along to ‘Heroes’. And amid it all, there’s one weird moment: during ‘Little Wonder’, the video screens flash an image of the pensive, watching Michael Eavis, before reimposing diamond Dave. It’s positively spooky. Until the finale, a common consensus maintained this to be one of the best ever Glastonbury festivals, but only in spite of the music. David Bowie changed that. Indeed, with this unforeseeable bravura effort, Bowie saved Michael’s bacon. No little wonder indeed. KC.

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