Minneapolis Star Tribune - January 12th 2004

Review: Bowie has fun with Target Center crowd

By Jon Bream

For his concerts, David Bowie usually chooses an exotic name - Diamond Dogs Tour, Glass Spider Tour, Serious Moonlight Tour - and elaborate staging and outfits.

His current trek, which came to Target Center on Sunday, is called "A Reality Tour" because his latest album is "Reality," but also because it's the real Bowie: Spectacle-free, straight-ahead, almost informal. And it was wonderful.

Rock's chameleon king seemed very comfortable in his own skin. He was casual (jeans, tennis shoes, T-shirt and short jacket) but caring, delivering all songs with conviction and conversing with individual fans (such as Steinar with the leather-and-fur viking hat). The most affected aspect was his parted-down-the-middle blond hairdo; but when you've got the best enduring hair in the history of rock 'n' roll, why not have some foppish fun with it?

David Bowie performs at Target Center.Allen SmithSpecial To The Star TribuneBowie, who turned 57 Thursday, also had fun with the crowd. He invited the 5,500 fans to sing along on the chorus of "All the Young Dudes," the 1972 hit he wrote for Mott the Hoople.

"That was so well executed," he said afterward, "that there's no point in me singing anymore. It's yours." So the excellent six-member band went into the 1983 Bowie hit "China Girl," and he let the fans sing as he sat down on the stage.

After the opening stanza, he stood up, sporting a devilish smile, and interrupted, "That was terrible." He signaled the band to start over, and he took charge and proved that, in concert, he is a better singer than on CD/record - more intense, more dynamic, with more range and power. He sang as if the songs mattered to him as much as they obviously did to his fans.

Whether a Bowie devotee from his '70s and '80s radio hits, a hard-core disciple dating back to the "Ziggy Stardust" days or a recent convert, there was enough in the 2 1/4-hour performance to satisfy. The repertoire was divided roughly into thirds: hits, obscurities and recent material. Even Bowie himself wasn't sure which album certain songs came from; when he changed plans and called an audible for "The Battle of Britain," he asked fans which album. And he guessed that the encore "Be My Wife" was from 1977's "Low," and he was right.

Bowie was right almost all night long. The highlights were many: the slashing, soaring "Reality," the Pixies' punkish, falsetto-voiced "Cactus," the bracing rocker "Hallo Spaceboy," the crowd-pleasingly baroque "Under Pressure," the dramatic ballads "Life on Mars" and "Sunday," the menacing "I'm Afraid of Americans" and the wham-bam "Suffragette City." Only "Fashion," the 1980 disco sensation, and "Fame," the 1975 dance hit, sounded dated, but he delivered the latter with such brazen cynicism that it was worthwhile.

All told, it was a generous, well-paced, 28-song show, complemented by understated artistic images on a back video screen. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer had enough arena-anthem choruses to keep the crowd rocking and enough genre-expanding experimentation to please the aging hipsters. In other words, the real David Bowie was cool to all his constituencies.