The Indianapolis Star - 21 May 2004

Sound check: Bowie is both funky and in a funk

Singer switches easily between glam oldies, introspective newer material.

By David Lindquist

David Bowie
- Where: Murat Theatre.
- Bottom line: Icon walks the margin of pleasing crowd and sustaining himself.

By dabbling in various styles of music through the years, David Bowie built a massive catalog of time-shifting hits.

The pop icon managed to condense all of that Thursday night at the Murat Theatre, where he transformed oldies of glam, funk and folk into muscular triumphs of modern rock.

When performing a handful of newer songs, Bowie turned somber, conflicted and introspective. But what moods are better matched to the present?

At 57, Bowie no longer writes in the mode of "All the Young Dudes" and the show-opening "Rebel Rebel" - two vivid descriptions of cultural revolution.

Instead, he wonders aloud if he's lucky or lonely ("The Loneliest Guy" from last year's "Reality" album), and he can't unlock the feeling that "Nothing has changed; everything has changed" ("Sunday" from 2002's "Heathen").

The sold-out audience of 2,500 maintained commendable interest while Bowie sang the songs that obviously mean the most to him.

Backed only by guitar and keyboards in these moments, the part-time actor explored his theatrical side. The movements may have been muted when compared to the wham-bam Ziggy Stardust of old, but there was purpose when he held his hands to his throat and used a jacket to dab his eyes.

A feistiness emerged during a rendition of recent single "New Killer Star." The tune more or less urges bold living in dangerous times, and Bowie's remarkable physical presence backed up the sentiment.

This was an arena-size production wedged into a theater, so everyone had a good look at his thick, resilient hair and healthy bare arms.

In an evening packed with goosebump moments, none topped "Under Pressure." Bass player Gail Ann Dorsey sang the part of Queen's Freddie Mercury. More than 20 years after its release, there's no rust on the song's pro-love plea.

A pair of covers - the Pixies' "Cactus" and Jonathan Richman's "Pablo Picasso" - proved to be powerful showcases for guitar. In the seven-member band, Earl Slick plays lead, Gerry Leonard supplies ethereal texture and Bowie at times fills the gaps.

"Picasso," originally a lo-fi novelty tune, grew into a throbbing cinematic blockbuster. "Cactus," which links fashion to passion through its request of a lover's dress, sounded tailor-made for a true man of style.