Here's the thing about being a David Bowie fan:
Being a fan of Bowie is not in any way, shape or form an indication of bad taste. Even the most droll, elitist, cynical, insecure music snobs agree that Bowie left the musical landscape far better than he found it (no doubt not hesitating to mention along the way that Bowie stole shit left and right and picked up a crazy chick who ushered his ascent all that much more impressively). But the point is, everyone basically agrees that Bowie is one of the few musical figures who achieved greatness over and over, at several ages and stages of his career.
But this same fact makes it exceptionally distasteful to be a Bowie fanatic. Because, honestly, how many times do we need to be told that Bowie is awesome?
Well, guess what? I am a recovering Bowie fanatic. And I sometimes still cannot be helped from running my mouth about the guy.
Even though I've tempered my fanaticism in my old age (am I really fanatical about anything anymore??), I'll still talk the ear off of anyone willing to listen to me talking about how and why Aladdin Sane is Bowie's best work, and why it irks me that people so frequently mistake the Aladdin character with Ziggy Stardust, when Aladdin clearly was far darker and more vulnerable and dangerous figure.
(Jesus, there I go again.....can you believe that I was even WORSE ten or fifteen years ago??)
Ok, anyway, Bowie does make it hard to be both an objective music fan and a fanatic. Because when David Bowie flops, he does it grand style (see: the Glass Spider Tour).
And, sadly, this tour was a flop.
There were a few weird things going on in music at this time. Nine Inch Nails was all the rage, and there was this ridiculous faux industrial "scene" coming up, that (much like grunge, metal and yes, punk) eventually became suburbanized and far more about personal style than music or even culture.
But then Trent starting saying things in interviews, about how deeply he was influenced by Bowie's Berlin albums, and how "Always Crashing in The Same Car" was the song he most wishes that he'd written. (Really, Trent? Really? Not "The Bewley Brothers"?)
Never one to miss out on an opportunity to whore out a popular musician, Bowie did the natural thing and released a fairly ok industrial-flavored album, and proceed to set up a tour with NIN. I'm sure he thought it was the latest round of New Romantacism, or the most recent glam revival, or the next version of mod pop. After all, every 7-10 years these things just sort of....well, they happen to Bowie. And it really helps when the generation's martyr covers you on "Unplugged" and releases your song as a posthumous single.
Well, it didn't happen this time.
To start with, the album was gimmicky and no more convincingly industrial than anything else coming out of White Flint Mall (not that I didn't enjoy "Hallo Spaceboy"and "Hearts Filthy Lesson"). But furthermore, Bowie and his invincible ego decided that since he'd retired (sold out on?) his greatest hits back during the Sound & Vision Tour, that he's just do an entire tour of lesser-known tunes this time around.
As USA Today wrote the week that he launched the tour, Bowie may have written rock and roll suicide in 1971, but he waited until 1995 to commit it.
There were other clues that this would not be a triumphant tour. Hersheypark Stadium failed to sell out by a large margin, leading the promoter to open up the field for anyone with tickets. This, of course, left the stands half filled at best.
But all things considered, Bowie weathered this show fairly well. There was a lot of interplay with the crowd, and the shared set between both bands proved to be a winner. But it was a young crowd - simply put, Mr. Bowie's fans didn't turn up for this tour, and a lot of the kids didn't get it, and didn't care to.
All in all, though, he seemed to convert a few people who were dancing in front of me most of the night.
The rest of the tour did not fare as well......a story for the next entry.