The Seattle Times - January 27, 2004

David Bowie: Supercool rock icon ever ch-ch-changing for the better

By Patrick MacDonald

Concert Review:
David Bowie and Macy Gray, Sunday night at the Paramount Theatre, Seattle.

Now that's what I call a rock star!

Forty years after his first recordings, David Bowie has not lost any of his charisma, charm or sex appeal. At 57, he is still every inch a superstar, still brimming with style and panache, although his youthful rebelliousness has been replaced by cool sophistication and utter confidence.

He sported a huge, toothy smile throughout a two-hour set. You could see the twinkle in his eyes from 40 rows back. He was having fun, and so was the capacity crowd.

Bowie remains the most seductive of rock stars. He charmed and teased the audience, especially the mostly young, wildly energetic fans clustered at the lip of the stage. He saluted some tour followers by name, borrowed a pair of shades from someone, invited everyone on a date, let the crowd sing while he listened, and talked to us like we were in his living room.

The set was a celebration of his whole body of work. He featured some of his biggest hits, songs from his impressive new "Reality" album, covers from a variety of sources, and obscure songs from his past.

The show was as glittery and bright as his smile. A Cinerama-sized screen showed brilliantly colored animation, aerial films of Bowie's adopted home of New York, swirling light shows and live shots from hidden stage cameras, altered to grainy black-and-white or Day-Glo monochromatic tones.

Bowie delved right into his classic image with the opening song, "Rebel Rebel," from 1974, followed by "New Killer Star," an observation on stardom from "Reality."

Early in the set came the chunky "Fame"; the celebration of male sexuality, "All The Young Dudes," a hit he wrote for Mott the Hoople; the darkly romantic "Cactus," from the Pixies; the supercool "China Doll," with a bright-red backdrop on the superscreen; and Neil Young's sublime ballad, "I've Been Waiting For You."

The middle of the set featured songs from 1977's underrated "Low" album, including the instrumental "A New Career In A New Town," "Be My Wife" and "Always Crashing in the Same Car," followed by "Hallo Spaceboy" from the 1995's "Outside" CD.

Bassist Gail Ann Dorsey ably supplied the Freddie Mercury vocals for "Under Pressure," which Bowie recorded with Queen. The dramatic ballad "Life on Mars?" showed Bowie's voice to be in perfect form.

The windup to the finale pitched one high-powerful hit after another, starting with "Panic in Detroit" and continuing with "Ashes to Ashes," The Velvet Underground's "White Light/White Heat," the churning "I'm Afraid of Americans" (about the Americanization of the whole world), and, finally, the uplifting "Heroes."

The encore continued the excitement, with the countdown-paced "Five Years" followed by the intense rockers "Suffragette City" and "Ziggy Stardust." The cheers lasted long after Bowie and band - which included longtime collaborators Earl Slick on guitar, Mike Garson on keyboards and Sterling Campbell on drums - left the stage.

Just like Bowie's first Seattle show 32 years ago in the same theater, it was a night to remember.

Opening act Macy Gray won over the crowd, and pumped them up for Bowie, with a great, fun set reminiscent of R&B revues of the 1950s and '60s. Her seven-piece band wore red suits, her two background singers were in low-cut gowns, and Gray sported a huge Afro wig. Her songs about partying were infectious, and the ballads - especially her breakthrough hit, "I Try" - were moving.