February 02, 2004
David Bowie put on a great show Monday night at L.A.’s sold-out Shrine Auditorium. The concert was better than Radiohead, The White Stripes, Queens of the Stone Age or any other personal favorites I've seen in a few years.
I liked David Bowie, but his show made me a devotee. The Shrine Auditorium's intimate size and a superb light show added to the energy provided by the crowd. The venue was so full of soulfulness and joy that near the end I felt like the audience had just liberated a country.
Every song was executed beautifully by the band. There were two guitarists, two pianists, a bassist and a drummer. Bowie occasionally played guitar and harmonica.
Bowie’s delivered his vocals well, and he gave more than he needed to at some points.
He opened the show with “Rebel Rebel,” a recognizable song that got the crowd into the show quickly. Along with newer songs, his two and a half hour concert covered “Heroes,” “The Man Who Sold The World,” “I’m Afraid of Americans,” “All The Young Dudes,” “China Girl,” “Starman,” “Fame,” “Hang onto Yourself,” “Ashes to Ashes,” and “Under Pressure.”
Where else are you gonna hear “Under Pressure” live anymore? Bowie pulled it off without making it seem like he stole anything from Queen. The female bass player did a spot-on live acetate of Freddie Mercury’s vocal performance in the studio version.
Other than Queen, Bowie’s biggest bow to another artist this night was a wonderful cover of The Pixies’ “Cactus." Bowie was a great actor. He had an uncanny sense for great performance techniques: smiling, being congenial, playing to the spotlight, and walking fast or slowly towards or away from the microphone when the song called for it.
Bowie ended the concert with a four song attack that rocked hard and had everyone deafening everyone else singing. “Five Years” followed by “Hang Onto Yourself” followed by “Suffragette City” followed by “Ziggy Stardust.”
During a standing ovation, Bowie and the band took a much deserved bow together. Bowie covered his heart as he was accompanied by his bandmates offstage.