Sunday, 23 September 2018

David Bowie - A Reality Tour (2003)


Recorded live in Dublin 2003

This is David Bowie's last official live recording, and what a great show it is. Performed before an enthusiastic crowd in Dublin, you get a two hour plus set of Bowie classics mixed with his contemporary material, all played by Bowie's superb band. The man himself is on fine form, sounding and looking healthy after a period of poor health and absence from the live concert circuit. Nobody had expected this tour and it was a really enjoyable, exhilarating surprise. Occasionally, in his between songs chat, Bowie appears to speak in an affected Irish accent, which is somewhat odd, however. Listen to it - he really does, to be sure.


1. Rebel Rebel
2. New Killer Star
3. Reality
4. Fame
5. Cactus
6. Sister Midnight
7. Afraid
8. All The Young Dudes
9. Be My Wife
10. The Loneliest Guy
11. The Man Who Sold The World
12. Fantastic Voyage
13. Hallo Spaceboy
14. Sunday
15. Under Pressure
16. Life on Mars?
17. Battle For Britain (The Letter)
18. The Ashes
19. The Motel
20. Loving The Alien
21. Never Get Old
22. Changes
23. I'm Afraid Of Americans
24. "Heroes"
25. Bring Me The Disco King
26. Slip Away
27. Heathen (The Rays)
28. Five Years
29. Hang On To Yourself
30. Ziggy Stardust
31. Fall Dogs Bomb The Moon
32. Breaking Glass
33. China Girl

The set kicks off with an energetic "Rebel Rebel" and you can feel (and hear) the crowd's excitement. The band crank it up and the sound is thumpingly big and bassy, which I love. There is a palpable "live" feeling right from the start on this release. It is actually on of Bowie's finest ever live recordings. What a shame it was to be his last. The more contemporary material is played with a vigorous and vitality of an artist and band enjoying something new. "New Killer Star" is a great example.

Classic Bowie songs interjected through the set are a superb, pulsating, bassy "Fame"; a welcome outing for "All The Young Dudes" (the crowd, incidentally, I am sure, cheer because they are expecting "Young Americans" from the introductory drum roll, just before it goes into the iconic guitar intro to "Dudes"); "Be My Wife"; an even more welcome and wonderful version of "The Man Who Sold The World"; "Fantastic Voyage" from "Lodger"; a most evocative "Life On Mars"; "Ashes To Ashes"; the most underrated "Loving the Alien"; "Changes"; an atmospheric "Heroes" and the "Ziggy" closers of "Five Years", "Hang On To Yourself" and "Ziggy Stardust". Right at the end, "Breaking Glass" from "Low" appears, and the whole thing ends with "China Girl". I like the way that every few songs, along some a classic. So he avoids losing people's interest with newer songs, but also doesn't turn it into a "greatest hits" thing either. It is a nicely balanced set.

The more modern material is, as I said earlier, very impressive. "Reality", "I'm Afraid Of Americans" and a rousing "Never Get Old" are highlights, as is the guitar riff-driven, muscular Pixies cover, "Cactus". Another great moment is "Under Pressure" with Gail Ann Dorsey supplying the iconic bass line perfectly. The comparative rarity, Iggy Pop and Bowie's "Sister Midnight", is delivered superbly, full of great bass, drums and lead guitar. Check out the guitar on "Afraid" as well. Quality all over the album.

The whole album is a pleasure to listen to (and watch on the DVD too).


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