The Return (again) of the Thin White Duke.
David Bowie, The Olympia Theatre, 9th August, 1997.
The Olympia was packed, a song came on the PA - "Ch-ch-changes"
, the crowd roared, the crowd sang along, the song finished and the man
himself appeared with an acoustic guitar and started singing
"Quicksand" with nothing else but his guitar.
The crowd was entranced, the applause was rapturous. The man was
brilliant, he told stories, he sang songs, he played guitar and sax.
"Changes" is the most prophetic song he's written and it
describes the gig perfectly. Bowie played songs from each era. He
played "the Man Who Sold the World", "Fame",
"Fashion", "Hello Spaceboy" and "Little
Wonder" and a shit load more. He played an hour and a half long
set, followed by an hour long encore.
The band were the perfect compliment to the man who is one of the best
performers in the world. There was no limit to the styles that they
used to try and keep up with rock musicís chameleon. Songs would start
off with a mellow trancey sound, or a drum n' bass rhythm and finish up
in an industrial barrage of guitars.
The stage set was low key, but amazing. Films played on a canvas
backdrop, the band's faces appeared on balloons and there were two huge
dancing eyeballs behind the drum-kit, one green and one blue.
It is almost impossible to believe that this man is nearly 51 years old.
By the end of his second 2 1/2 hour set in two days, there was no strain
in his voice, no sign of tiredness in his posture, while many in the
audience were ready to drop.
There has been some discussion as to whether the encore was a
disappointment or not, featuring as it did long techno work-outs and
experiments. The point is that Bowie is not a musician who is going to
please every-body all of the time.
Over a thirty or so year career, he has accumulated such a diverse
collection of style that there is no way anyone likes everything. He
has become an uncompromising musician who plays what he likes, and even
if you donít particularly like it all, youíve got to respect him.
Without doubt, the gig of the year (except possible for his gig the
by Donnacha DeLong