The Patriot-News - 15th May 2004

Rock icon Bowie still in command

By Barry Fox

It's not easy to age gracefully in rock music.

This summer, stages across America will be littered with long-ago stars sadly trying to recapture the magic of their youth.

David Bowie is the rare exception.

He's 57, hasn't toured in eight years and, as he proved Thursday night at Hershey's Star Pavilion, he's as good as ever.

Sounding great, looking fit and supported by a stellar band, Bowie showed once again that he is the ultimate rock star.

From the opening chords of "Rebel, Rebel" to the final notes of "Ziggy Stardust" more than two hours later, Bowie commanded the stage and your attention like few others.

Promising to "do stuff we haven't done in a long, long time," Bowie and company covered a wide spectrum of his remarkable career, setting the tone for the evening with "Sister Midnight," "Hang On To Yourself" and the crowd-pleasing sing-along "All The Young Dudes."

Bowie was in good humor throughout, responding to a shouted out request with, "Can you play it? I can't play it, so we're [screwed]." Or, commenting on the central Pennsylvania countryside with, "It's very beautiful here. I thought it would be all chimneys, factories and [stuff]."

Lights, a huge green backdrop and spooky rotating tree limbs added an interesting visual element to "Fame," "The Loneliest Guy," "The Man Who Sold The World" and "Panic In Detroit."

Interspersed with Bowie's own material were well-chosen covers like the Pixies' "Cactus" and the Velvet Underground's "White Light/White Heat."

But it was on songs like "China Girl" that Bowie made simple gestures, like pretending to hold up a mirror to look at himself, seem so elegant and... cool.

He appeared to be acting out some of the more dramatic tunes like "Hallo Spaceboy," "Heathen," "Station to Station" and "Ashes to Ashes."

He gave new life to old favorites like "Under Pressure" - one of the many highlights of the night - with dynamic bassist-singer Gail Ann Dorsey filling the other half of the duet made famous by Freddie Mercury and Bowie.

"Quicksand's" imagery of kissing a viper's fang and "sinking in the quicksand of my thought" and the "Let's Dance" classic "put on your red shoes and dance the blues" reminded of yet another Bowie talent - the turn of phrase.

"Modern Love," "I'm Afraid of Americans," "Heroes" and a raucous "Suffragette City" put an exclamation point on an extraordinary night of music.

The night began with a stellar set from Welsh rockers Stereophonics.

From the upbeat "Have A Nice Day" to the bluesy "I Miss You Now" to impressive pure rockers "Maybe Tomorrow" and "Help Me (She's Out of Her Mind)," the Stereophonics are well on their way to their goal of conquering a new continent.

In Europe, vocalist Kelly Jones explained, the band is "absolutely massive over there, and we want to be absolutely massive over here too.".