St. Louis Post Dispatch - 12th May 2004

Ch-ch-changeable Bowie is still the coolest

By Kevin C. Johnson

Concerts by classic-rock powerhouses such as the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel and Elton John just can't match the feeling of a David Bowie concert, as proved at a packed Fox Theatre on Tuesday night.

The cult-inspiring Bowie is the ultimate rock star, with a life and career that has included a supermodel wife, bisexuality, drugs, colorful costumes and ever-changing stage personas, and he offers an evening that's a true event. Other classic rockers tour routinely, which can dull the impact, but Bowie's latest trek is his first in eight years, giving it must-see status.

Featuring a set, sound and scope that seemed to extend beyond the parameters of the Fox's walls, Bowie's 2 1/2-hour show joyfully showcased what a vital live performer he remains. At the age of 57, he's still the coolest person in any room, full of cocksure English swagger.

Looking fit and almost handsome in a mix of denim and velour, Bowie opened with "Rebel Rebel" from 1973's "Diamond Dogs" album and "New Killer Star" from the new "Reality" CD. The pairing clued in the audience on just how wide the material would stretch, even if the new song quickly drained some of the energy that the older song generated.

Boldly forgoing some of the songs most popular with the early-MTV generation ("Let's Dance," "Modern Love," "Blue Jean") and several all-time favorites ("Fame," "Young Americans," "Golden Years"), Bowie appeared to tailor the set toward more devout fans by featuring vintage gems such as "Heroes," "Suffragette City" and, of course, "Ziggy Stardust."

"Under Pressure" was another oldie-but-goodie offered, with Bowie explaining that his "Under Pressure" partner, the late Freddie Mercury, couldn't make it and so bassist/singer Gail Ann Dorsey was filling in. Bowie instigated a sing-along for the still-winning "All The Young Dudes," and he cheekily strutted around the stage as though he were strolling a catwalk on "Fashion" (wife Iman should be proud).

He paid tribute to the Pixies with "Cactus," calling it one of the band's greatest songs. The trippy "Hallo Spaceboy" was a welcome surprise from his "Outside" CD, and "Station To Station," which opened the encore, was performed for only the second time this tour. He also performed off-kilter ballad "The Loneliest Guy," and the melodic "Days" came from his "Reality" CD. Bowie then followed "Days" with a song he promised that everyone knew: "Changes."

Throughout the night, Bowie was warm, light and humorous. At one point, he asked audience members what their names were.

"Yeah, yeah, forget it," he said. "I don't want to know."

He launched into a lengthy explanation of "The Man Who Sold the World" before stopping himself and asking, "Why am I going on like this? They (the band) usually stop me." Later Bowie said he wanted to introduce the band but joked that he couldn't remember their names.

Let's hope that fans won't have to wait another near-decade before Bowie appears in town again - not at his age. But this current tour is one for the books.

Stereophonics opened, demonstrating Bowie's ongoing respect of new talent. Singer Kelly Jones told the crowd his band was "massive" back home in South Wales, and it looks to be equally massive in the United States. Songs such as "I Miss You Now" and "Help Me (She's Out of Her Mind)" from "You Gotta Go There to Come Back" made a strong case for the band.

But given the accidental death of a stagehand at concert in Miami last week, Jones' comment that it had been a good week playing with Bowie seemed odd.