DAVID BOWIE : A SON OF THE CIRCUS
Label : no label
Venue : Landsdowne Park, Ottowa, Canada
Date : August 28th, 1987
Quality : Soundboard Recording (A+)
Concert Review (Ottawa Citizen) : David Bowie has always marked his tenure as one of rock’s biggest stars by constantly keeping one leg up on the rest of his peers. With eight, 20-metre-high legs attached to a giant spider atop the massive stage at Lansdowne Park on Friday, and Bowie casually lowered from the artsy arachnid’s belly to kick off the show, the British master of make-believe put himself so far ahead, the rest might well want to pack it in. With the audience of more than 29,000 fans — the largest attendance ever for a rock show in the Ottawa area — captivated from start to end of the nearly two-hour theatrical and musical package, Ottawa’s biggest rock event went virtually without a flaw. In a red suit, boots and matching red shirt, our nouveau Spider-Man dangled, danced and sang his way through a historical voyage of his different sounds that have marked his career. With five stunning dancers and a superb backing band on the multi-tiered stage, huge video screens helped bring the extravaganza to life for the paying customers who had to make do with an ant-sized Bowie on stage. Bowie ran through a large chunk of material from his latest record, Never Let Me Down, moving right into the best-selling single Day in Day Out near the top of the show to set the casually-restrained, yet still powerful presence he would cast all night. Highlights had to be the gritty Bang Bang, a cover of an Iggy Pop tune, which featured Bowie, now 40, dancing with what looked like a startled member of the crowd dragged out from the front row, until she spun into a few well-choreographed moves that gave her away. Other tunes such as China Girl were played straight up, with Bowie improvising with his symbolic gestures and gigolo dance bar moves the focal point. He moved from minimalist settings to hard rock and into full-scale production numbers with ease, and gave the crowd something to think about as well as see. Also impressive was the work of guitarist Peter Frampton, who left his wimpy ’70s image way behind with some searing riffs and cool, mellow musings. He’s definitely found his niche in a supporting role, especially on the no-nonsense numbers such as Rebel Rebel. Despite all we’d heard about the theatrical, vaudevillian theme of the show, there really wasn’t any time that the dancers or the video ../images created a sense of confusion for the viewer. To get into the full effect of the show, you only had to take in the action like you would at a football game, taking your eyes off the quarterback once in a while and checking out the linebackers for a couple of plays to get a different perspective. Having to provide opening support for a rock legend like Bowie is a thankless task. Half the people are still filtering in to their seats, you can’t effectively use any lights, and the sound system hasn’t been fully tested. Nonetheless, Ottawa’s own Eight Seconds were able to benefit from having all those thousands of watts on stage. The extra power helped provide a toughened edge to the bottom end of their synthesized keyboard sound. Though the new song they tried out to open the show, Chopin’s Heart, wasn’t really the right one to start off such a short set, the band quickly moved into the livelier stuff such as Kiss You When It’s Dangerous to get things rolling. After that half-hour set, Britain’s poster boys Duran Duran – at least three of the originals – took to the stage for an 80-minute set that really didn’t get going until about half-way. Vocalist Simon Le Bon was pretty dull fare until the band began to experiment with the huge video screens. The band’s feature video had their trademark selection of scantily-clad women, this time frolicking in an underground parking lot, the kind of stuff that’s usually banned from the pay television networks. With that bit of shock value behind them, the group moved smartly into the controversial Skin Trade and a couple of songs later finished off the set with attention-grabbing versions of Wild Boys and The Reflex. The real question was the whereabouts of drummer Roger Taylor who was absent from the already-depleted Duran Duran lineup, with only Le Bon and keyboardist Nick Rhodes carrying the torch. It was fitting that a band created by the video generation was the main support for Bowie, who was dabbling in such things years before Le Bon and company reached any kind of notoriety.