Hershey Chronicle - 20th May 2004

David Bowie performs his hits, rarities in Hershey

Rock chameleon David Bowie was in fine form last Thursday at the Star Pavilion at Hersheypark Stadium, doling out over two hours worth of hits, rarities, and a surprising amount of humor (or humour, as it were)

By Todd Thatcher (Staff Writer)

After running through the crowd-pleasing "Rebel Rebel," he greeted the crowd with a subtle Hershey chocolate joke, "I'm Willy Wonka, and we're pleased to be your musical guests."

Bowie then jumped ahead 30 years for "New Killer Star," the rocking first single from his excellent 2003 release, Reality. That song fit in perfectly beside the singer's older material, though he only performed one other Reality cut on Thursday, piano-ballad "The Loneliest Guy." Still, those two selections alone begged the question of why Bowie's popularity has flagged in recent years, when his artistry clearly hasn't.

Though his sales figures might not be what they used to be, with as many hits as Bowie's had in his three-decade-plus career, he can still pack them in , as he did at the Star Pavilion. And proving the singer's timeless appeal, the near-capacity crowd was made up of an age range rarely seen in today's polarized music world. Punk-rock teenagers, aging scenesters, and almost-senior-citizens all got down and rocked-out to everything from late-1960's classics to lesser-known '00's album cuts.

Bowie definitely gave fans a healthy dose of the hits, though, from the funky "Fame" to the rousing "Heroes," and the one-two punch of the perfect encore: "Suffragette City," followed by "Ziggy Stardust."

Especially well-received - seemingly to the singer's surprise - were a string of hits from his most mainstream album, the pop-leaning Let's Dance. From that record, he performed spot-on renditions of "China Girl" and "Modern Love," as well as a rousing take on the title track.

Seeing the response to his sing-along numbers early on, Bowie conceded, "Okay, we'll do a few more you know. Then we have to get back to our show."

"Our show" consisted of some impeccable cover choices (The Pixies' "Cactus," "White Light/White Heat" by The Velvet Underground), as well as a handful of deep catalog selections.

For instance, rather than the classic "Changes," Bowie chose the acoustic-driven "Quicksand" from 1971's Hunky Dory. And instead of Station to Station's accessible "Golden Years," it was the album's 10-minute title track that the singer led his band through in Hershey.

Following that performance, veteran fans rewarded him with an abundance of applause, and even Bowie seemed impressed with the epic song. "We just re-learned that one - that's a good song," the singer offered with a laugh.

But last Thursday, he seemed particularly interested in reclaiming a few great ones often attributed to others artists (as if he doesn't have enough of his own).

"We seem to be doing a lot of songs I wrote for other people," Bowie observed dryly. These included a funky take on Iggy Pop's "Sister Midnight," a faithful rendition of Mott the Hoople's "All the Young Dudes," and the early-80s Queen hit "Under Pressure," which saw bassist Gail Ann Dorsey ably taking the late Freddie Mercury's part.

Over the course of the 25-or-so songs Bowie packed into his set, you couldn't help but be struck by just how many styles he's touched on during his career thus far. From folk to industrial, classic rock to dance-pop, he's done it all, and managed to deliver classic songs in each genre.

So while there are other artists who've shifted genres almost as much, no one else has made it look and sound so effortless as David Bowie, a fact reaffirmed by the singer's fine Hershey performance.

Wales-bred Stereophonics opened the show with several songs that were an interesting blend of classic rock, brit-pop and grunge.

"Movie Star" was a hard-rocking combination of wah-wah-ed guitars and raw vocals. On the other end of the spectrum was the poppy "Have a Nice Day," which bopped along on strummy acoustics and a bouncy back-beat.

"We're absolutely massive over there, and we want to be absolutely massive over here too," lead singer Kelly Jones informed the crowd.

They might not have instant-hit potential, but the band's genre-bending mix makes them an apt tour-mate for Bowie. And based on the standing ovation Stereophonics received at the end of their performance, if they can get their music heard, the band might have a long career ahead of them.