The Province - 23 January 2004

Bowie not afraid to show 'it' off

By Stuart Derdeyn

DAVID BOWIE with MACY GRAY GM Place, Saturday, 6:30 p.m.

There are only a few rock stars who have "it." The ability to matter - to remain active and vital decades into a career in a business that eats its finest at their most tender - is highly elusive. You need a combination of creative talent, great ears, dogged determination and arrogance to do what you want to do no matter what to persevere.

And songs. Lots and lots of 'em.

David Bowie isn't hurting for those. The guy's been dropping classics throughout his four decades in the biz.

Some, such as the seminal "All the Young Dudes" and "China Girl," weren't even written with his personal success in mind but instead to help the flagging careers of artists he admired such as Mott the Hoople and Iggy Pop. Others were killer cover versions of under-appreciated tracks by acts like the Velvet Underground, whose "White Light, White Heat" has been a staple of Bowie's sets since the early '70s.

But it is those original milestones that define each and every character he's embodied from Hunky Dory's Warholian Kabuki Queen to Ziggy Stardust's Glam King on to the Thin White Duke of Heroes and the radio pop ace of Let's Dance that keep fans excited. These are the songs that were soundtracks to everything from that great teen date flick Christiane F to being gutsy enough to sport stirrup pants at a nightclub in the '80s or a skinny tie and suit in the '90s.

They are the songs that are most often played in the Reality tour setlists.

From '70s' "The Man Who Sold the World" - revived by the late Kurt Cobain in the '90s on Nirvana's Unplugged in New York swansong - to "Ziggy Stardust," "Fame" and even quirky one-offs such as the Queen and Bowie hit "Under Pressure," Bowie is mining his back catalogue and also presenting about half-a-show's worth of material from last year's well-received Reality and '02s acclaimed Heathen. The whole show sounds like a love-in from start to finish.

Better yet, drummer Sterling Campbell reports that new songs are added nightly. These have ranged from Pixies and classic Pink Floyd covers, Aladdin Sane's searing "Panic In Detroit" and even a few Tin Machine joints.