Bradenton Herald - 30th April 2004

Reality Check

David Bowie sells out Tampa venue

By Wade Tatangelo

Rock's great chameleon continues to ride the ebb and flow of popular culture to acclaim and riches.

David Bowie co-opts new sounds to cultivate fresh fans and shed the oldies label. And plays the oldies to keep the old fans around. It's what he's done for decades, mostly with success.

Bowie, who first found fame with 1969's "Space Oddity," has done the folk thing, the glam thing, the avant-garde, dance-pop and electronica thing. When bi-sexuality was hip in the hedonistic 1970s, he even did that thing.

Save for his Ziggy creation, Bowie has never been a trailblazer, just an astute follower - quick to pick up on rock's latest trends and exploit them for all they're worth before moving on to the next. It's worked. "The Thin White Duke's" age-defying looks and media suaveness have also helped.

At 57, Bowie still sells out halls across the globe. He hasn't had a legitimate hit single or album in some time. But with a back catalog like his, it really doesn't matter, does it?

There was a time in the mid-1980s when Bowie teased fans by saying he was retiring his past hits. Of course, this hasn't happened. With only the promise of his latest techno forays, Bowie would be playing clubs like he did with his noisy rock group Tin Machine in the early 1990s. Nope, Bowie's dishing out the gold for this year's "Reality Tour." "Rebel Rebel," "China Girl," "'Heroes'," "Fashion," "Fame," "Let's Dance," "All the Young Dudes," and "Ziggy Stardust" have all made recent set lists.

Those fortunate enough to attain tickets to this sold-out show should be advised to arrive early, or at least on time. Opening act Stereophonics is one of the finest groups to emerge in the 1990s under the "alternative rock" banner. Atmospheric and sophisticated, they should speak to a good chunk of Bowie enthusiasts not already familiar with their work.

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, 1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa. Tickets: SOLD OUT. Information: (800) 955-1045.