The Nation - 11th March 2004

Bowie's still got stardust

By Kitchana Lersakvanitchakul

I was off to Singapore to catch up with David Bowie at the Indoor Stadium last week on his worldwide "Reality" tour, since my hopes of seeing the rock legend in the Kingdom had never been realised.

The concert was absolutely superb, the middle-aged artist's unbelievable vocal powers combining with a band - long-time and new-generation musicians - was full of elan and energy. But what most surprised me was state-of-the-art sound system, which gave sonic clarification to each instrument well into the depths of the stadium - something rarely heard at our own Impact Arena.

The concert started an hour late as two long queues moved slowly into the hall due to strict security.

The stadium, though smaller than Impact, was well-fitted out. At first I thought that the perfect clarity of the sound system was because of my good seat (priced at S$195 or Bt4,557), but as I learned when I checked out the arena's highest level before the encore, the sound was equally beautiful everywhere.

The concert kicked off with a roaring oldie, "Rebel Rebel" as animated cartoons capered on a screen as large as the stage, unaffected by the stage lighting like at our concerts. Everyone in the 4,000-strong audience had a clear view of both the stage and the graphics.

Bowie followed with "New Killer Star" from his current "Reality" album, then he and his superlative backing band - guitarists Earl Slick and Gerry Leonard, bassist Gail Ann Dorsey, keyboardist Mike Garson, percussionist Catherine Russell and drummer Sterling Campbell - cranked up the decibels for "Suffragette City" and "I'm Afraid of Americans". This latter track, from his 1997 "Earthling" album, howled with ferocious guitar licks.

The audience - mostly non-native - clapped, stomped and screamed to their hearts' content. They burst out laughing, too, at Bowie's comical patter.

He announced a sexy song and leeringly asked the girls in front of the stage if they were groupies. He also made impromptu funny remarks when he and his musicians miffed the introduction of a song and had to restart.

During an autograph session at a small "meet and greet" after the concert, I asked him whether there was still a chance. "It would have to be after my concert in Australia," he said.

Still a chance then, huh?