Vail Daily - September 22, 2004


By Geraldine Haldner

It hit me by the time he led his musicians into "Ashes to Ashes" and brought the crowd to its feet with just one of his well-timed flamboyant gestures.

David Bowie, an emaciated-looking figure clad in a furry coat and flared trousers, backlit dramatically, could still dazzle crowds - regardless of which era they first fell under his spell - Ziggy, stylish or just plain Bowie.

He swept his very hip shag-cut hair off of his forehead, swayed suggestively in the hips and - brought very close to us via huge screens behind him - made most of us scramble to our feet with some imperceptible command.

C'mon. "Ashes to Ashes" isn't that great, but for some reason I was holding my breath.

I was falling in love with a skinny, 57-year-old British rock star finding his way into a somewhat graceful retirement from sound super-stardom.

I couldn't believe it and turned to my friend, Tommy Kubitsky, for reassurance that I wasn't going crazy.

No help there. She was too busy swooning and screaming herself.

Looking around the dim-lit arena I sized up the competition. From giggling teenagers decked out in Jessica Simpson-inspired getups to 40-year-old divorcees with dangly earrings who wrestled into their stone-washed too-tight jeans, about half of the audience was willing to consider the idea of becoming a groupie.

Quite a transgression, at least for me, considering I was there at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland on a whim. We had decided that a trip back to teenagehood and across the Continental Divide on a Sunday would be a hoot. I remember thinking "Bowie? He still tours?"

About 50 minutes into the 90-minute concert I wasn't sure if I had just regressed back to being a teenager or completely lost my mind. Singing at the top of my lungs to my favorites "China Girl" and "Let's Dance," I was trying to squeeze in a dance move or two in the narrow seating row, waving my arms in the air every time the man behind "Major Tom" seemed to turn his face my way.

Who am I?

He isn't the first rockstar of the '80s and '90s I'm seeing again. But he hasn't gone fat or weird like Axel Rose or Michael Jackson, he is still simply a genuine rockstar, not out on a mission to save the world like Bono or sit on his laurels like - well like lots of the other ones.

For one, the illustrious, lurid and sometimes lame turns in his almost four-decade-long career have awarded him with a crowd that spans all ages, both genders, tax brackets, tastes and other social affiliations.

If you like people-watching, a Bowie concert is your place to be.

I even saw a couple of cowboys, though I'm not sure if they were there for the cheap beer, which wasn't cheap and only of one brand - the namesake of the aforementioned venue.

Budweiser Events Center, by the way, is cavernous, clean and very convenient, once you figure out where on the outskirts of Loveland it is. It has about as much character as a bus stop, but its acoustics are clean and the bathrooms have more than three stalls.

On a pre-concert tour to check out the new venue, sipping aforementioned beer of no-choice, we turned for second looks to catch scrunchy socks with short skirts, neon-colored sweat suits, at least two truly great mullets, countless hairspray-supported hairdos, Goth makeup and even a pair or two tapered jeans.

But inside the venue, we all came together to be loved and love Bowie back. It was beautiful - and definitely extremely funny.

Bowie isn't about to make a major comeback - songs released later than 1993 featured a noticeably thinner-sounding sing-along echo from the crowd - but his exhibitionist nature coupled with his cynic and very British sense of humor, made up for entire sections to the right and left being sparsely seated.

He loved saying Loveland and did so over and over. He introduced all of his major hits with self-degrading anecdotes, and he laughed when the audience came to its feet.

Most of all, he wasn't too good to sing all his big hits - this guy is proud of where he has been and too smart to veer far off the familiar path, that bombastically big sound of the '80s, whenever possible interspersed with a guitar solo or two.

On our way out, we delighted in that feeling you only get once in a while, when you unexpectedly witness something truly entertaining, like a movie living up and beyond its hype, or a stand-up comedian too funny and fast for properly-drawn breaths.

Our way home, we found ourselves faced with a never-ending list of other "great classics" we would spend an equal amount of traveling time on.

We came up with few and ruled out many.

Queen, The Clash, Frank Sinatra and Elvis made the list.

I don't think I'll be holding my breath for a while.