David Bowie The Academy, Manchester; live review
Friday 25 July 1997
What can these critics who slated his half-ancient, half-modern London shows be talking about? A jungle revision of "The Man Who Sold the World" follows and works perfectly. "Jean Genie" almost electrocutes half the audience - they jump like the floor has been wired to the mains. The rest of his band are on now, behaving themselves, paying attention to the core of the song and not messing about in the way that musicians who can play too well often do.
After this, however, they start doing just that. A particular bollocking must go to guitarist Reeves Gabrels who spends his time making those kind of Eighties car-crash-feedback noises so beloved of older blokes who have listened to too much Robert Fripp. He refuses to even refer to the sublime funk of "Fame", and forces you to re-run in your head the proper guitar parts of the closing stay as he approximates the properly arty sound of a transatlantic jet in trouble. The bulk of the set has you looking at your watch during lumps of perfunctory jungle punctuated by oblique paranoid telegrams. There is even a horrible banging techno version of "V2 Schnieder", which seems to last at least a week, and a take on Laurie Anderson's "Oh Superman", which makes me feel like I am waiting for a bus.
Had I gone home after "Jean Genie", I would have called you all liars and idiots. But you're right. This is an old man who should know better copying young men who know nothing. Even so, you leave thinking, hey, that was David Bowie and he can be crap if he wants to.
To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthdaybooks
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