My Crash Course for the Ravers hits Bowie’s Big Pause.
I get a lot of joy out of the film of the Reality concert, and the nice thing is that it looks like Bowie did too. Unlike many of his earlier concerts, where he cultivated an artistically aloof demeanor, here he bounces around the stage in his playful Chuck Taylors, grinning at everybody, feeling the love from the audience and throwing it right back to them.
His song selection is super-solid, too, acknowledging the perennial classics like ‘Changes’ and ”Heroes” but also throwing in deeper cuts like ‘Be My Wife’ and ‘The Motel.’ My favorite Reality track, ‘New Killer Star‘ gets outstanding live treatment, and the ‘Under Pressure’ duet with Gail Ann Dorsey deserves all the superlatives.
As is well known, Bowie rocked the world on this tour between fall 2003 and summer 2004, then collapsed with a heart attack that closed his live concertizing – permanently, as it turned out. But that didn’t keep him from making a series of characteristically diverse, weird, and wonderful appearances over the following decade.
My spouse and I watched Ricky Gervais’ Extras a few years ago because it involved Ian McKellen, among other ouchy-hilarious celebrity guest-spots, not because of the (in)famous episode with David Bowie. Yet looking at the Bowie appearance now through the lens of his whole catalog, I see just what a gem it is – tearing Gervais’ sad-sack narcissist apart while lovingly sending up Bowie’s public persona and mid/late style. “He’s one of the seminal artists of the last thirty-five years, doing work tantamount to genius.”
I sought out Arthur and the Invisibles because I like that sort of twee animated rubbish involving Freddie Highmore. It is profoundly surreal to hear Bowie’s voice coming out of this love-child of Jareth and Groot.
Then there’s The Prestige, a.k.a. That Film I Will Never Ever Watch Again In Spite of Bowie Because I Have This Thing About Hand Trauma. But I could watch him walk out of a plasma globe as Nikola Tesla all day. Heck, I could read ten books about Nikola Tesla just because Bowie looks so awesome walking out of the lightning. Or at least everything about him from The Oatmeal.
If I had to cast away my entire Bowie collection and keep just over three minutes of sound and vision, this is the pick. Sorry to be obvious, but you gotta admit it’s a great rendition of a great song, and a total lovefest.