Seattle Post Intelligencer - Tues, Jan 27, 2004

Age is not a factor in Bowie's rock 'n' roll history tour

By Bill White

WHERE: Paramount Theatre, Seattle

A piece of the rock 'n' roll firmament fell onto the Paramount stage Sunday night. Those who witnessed it came away with the reassurance that the fountain of youth flows in the magic of music. At least if your name is David Bowie.

For more than two hours, this Dorian Gray of rock's aristocracy held the sold-out audience in sway with a boyish charisma that has grown more commanding with time. Thirty years separated "Rebel Rebel" and "New Killer Star," the first two of 27 songs performed, but they went down like water from the same well.

At 57, Bowie is the same man today as he was in 1971, when he heard his first song, "The Man Who Sold the World," on American radio.

Backed by a six-piece band that was heavy on ringing guitars, music hall keyboards and timely rhythms, Bowie was dressed in a tailored outfit that suggested Jesse James at a post-apocalyptic formal affair. By the evening's fifth song, he had peeled away the layers of clothing until he was down to trousers, T-shirt, a tie and an unfettered belt with its excess length hanging below the waist.

"Hi again," he greeted a fan in the front row who was dressed in a bunny suit and had been following the tour. Throughout the concert, Bowie was amiable and chatty with the crowd.

"I guess it's too early to ask you to sing with me," he teased before a spectacular version of "All the Young Dudes," a song he wrote for Mott the Hoople, which he introduced as an old English folk song.

The set list was heavy on hits like "Fame," "China Girl" and "Ashes to Ashes," but included some special moments, such as four songs from the more experimental album "Low," including the instrumental "A New Career in a New Town."

He also performed "Under Pressure," a song written with Freddie Mercury, and a rocking version of the Velvet Underground's "White Light White Heat." Following an epic telling of "Heroes," Bowie returned for a three-song encore taken from the 1972 classic album, "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars."

He sang the evening's final line, "Ziggy played guitar," in a full, near-operatic voice, his arms outstretched like a diva. It had been an exhaustive trip through three decades of rock 'n' roll history, and the crowd still screamed for more.

They were less enthusiastic about Macy Gray, who opened with a 45-minute blast of rock and soul that should have set the house on fire. Combining the appeal of Rod Stewart, Rick James and Tina Turner into a relentless party of sex, drugs, love and music, Gray was in top form.

"This is not a library," she chided the laid-back audience, after they failed the "sexy people" test by remaining silent in their seats after being invited to dance and sing along with "She Ain't Right for You." They finally got to their feet when Gray busted out "Relating to a Psychopath," but were back on their backsides for the thrilling power ballad, "I Try," that ended the set.