Kelowna Capital News - 14 April 2004

David Bowie: Ziggy bridges past with the present in concert

By John McDonald

OK, I'll admit it, I was wrong.

When it was announced that David Bowie would be the latest in a long line of iconic rock figures to grace the stage at Prospera Place, I told everyone that would listen that I didn't want to see him.

I had heard that Bowie was refusing to play any of his old stuff and would instead be concentrating solely on his 2003 album Reality.

Now of all the artists that could take that stance and pull it off, Bowie is the one.

He is the one rock god from the '60s and '70s that has consistently refused to play the game, trading almost-certain solid gold status for constant experimentation and a seat at the fringes of commercial success.

A true multi-media artist, Bowie has dabbled in music, film, prose, poetry, live theatre and is even his own Internet Service Provider through BowieNet.

Throughout all that, the man has constantly reinvented himself assuming such varied characters as Ziggy Stardust and The Thin White Duke and churning out a string of hits in the '70s such as Rebel, Rebel, Young Americans and Suffragette City although the highlight of his mainstream commercial success would probably be Let's Dance and the Serious Moonlight tour of 1983, when that album ruled the airwaves.

He has a hit list of softer duet singles with the likes of Mick Jagger, Freddy Mercury and Bing Crosby which probably helped pay the bills for his more avant-garde ventures in experimental theatre and music.

Bowie is known for being determinedly androgynous and the constant rumours of his bisexuality seemed to have enhanced his image.

The fact he's been associated with a string of beautiful women has kept everyone guessing who the real David Bowie is.

I've seen Bowie twice before but Sunday's sold-out show was as close to the real guy as I would guess anyone outside his immediate circle is ever going to see.

Warm and gracious, almost chatty, Bowie led his tight eight-piece band throughout his back (and front) catalogue without a hint of the false bravado many rock dinosaurs assume when they are forced to live off of one or two dusty old singles.

This is a man whose made a living by staying both current and relevant but yet at age 57, could still sing Rebel, Rebel without a trace of irony, perhaps because it was offset by such timely songs as I'm Afraid of Americans.

No 90-minute man, Bowie treated the multi-generational crowd to a solid 26-song set running almost two and a half-hours.

Slim and trim, Bowie looked for all the world like someone who could keep on rocking for another 20 years.