In the week we mark the birth (January 8) and the death (January 10) of David Bowie, a small tradition continues for Wind Back Wednesday of digging into the Bowie-related archives.
This year we mark also the 20th anniversary of this performance in Australia on the 2004 tour, which would turn out to be his last shows here. We go back to the now also no-more Entertainment Centre, and along the way wish newspapers had allowed more room for such a review. Ah well. Plus ca change …
Sydney Entertainment Centre, February 21, 2004
The return of the lean, tanned duke was not elaborate: no characters or cracked actor, just a man and band. It was not quiet: twin guitars and a full throttle start of Rebel Rebel saw to that.
It was not just backward looking, either: following 1974's Rebel Rebel with a double from last year – New Killer Star and Reality – made that very clear.
Fit, happy, jovial even, David Bowie has found a way to avoid the frozen-in-history trap that has caught many of his contemporaries. The solution is as simple as the stage set on this tour: new songs that are as capable of exciting us now as he did a generation ago.
Hey, we're not going to complain about getting his own version of All The Young Dudes or gems from the great but too-little-known albums such as Low. (Although some of us don't really need to hear China Girl again.) And to finally, after 33 years, hear him sing The Man Who Sold The World could make the night worthwhile on its own.
But that a haunting new song like The Loneliest Guy or a jagged I'm Afraid Of Americans still kick stones means no one need feel guilty about the nostalgia.
Not that he will be feeling guilty. His voice is in great shape, he looks and acts half his age and seems to be having one great time. And who wouldn't with this powerful band (bassist Gail Ann Dorsey and guitarist Earl Slick the standouts) behind him?
The old was revitalised and contextualised and the new was worthy of standing alongside. We got gags and energy. We got Life On Mars and Heroes.
Yeah, it's a return worth celebrating.