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2004-02-24 - 1:55 a.m.

Before I write my inevitable spiel on Bowie, I remembered that I haven't written anything about the Big Day Out or one of the most amazing concerts I have seen- the Flaming Lips. I bought "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots" the week before the Big Day Out, having heard a few songs and a few rave reviews, and I was instantly converted. However nothing could have prepared me for the phenomenal live performances I saw. Gigantic balloons almost knocking the chandeliers off the roof of the Enmore Theatre, dozens of people dressed up in anima costumes, and one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time- a hand puppet nun miming along to "Yoshimi". The Enmore show (as opposed to the Big Day Out, added a really touching and serious side to the insane antics as the encore focussed on the importance of laughter in life and a brief reflection on those who have lost all hope. Lead singer Wayne Coyne rockets to the top of my list of people I'd like to have at a dinner party- I just think he'd be such a cool guy to talk to.

The rest of the Big Day Out was good as well, although there were electrical storms and I got very cold and wet. I enjoyed spending half an hour in the Boiler Room for Friendly, Muse rocked, the Strokes were arrogant as fuck but awesome nonetheless, the Dandy Warhols delivered an enjoyable set of pretty much what I wanted to hear (all the big songs, plus a personal favourite- "Solid" off "13 Tales" which has a groovy keyboard riff and sounds very Lou Reed).

There's not much else I need to say about that, just that The Flaming Lips are my new favourite band.

And now, if you will, allow me to describe my evening with God.

Not a gaunt, pale, androgynous god but a man in his fifties with the energy of a 35 year old. Stripped off all his personas, and left with a still rather elaborate stage setup and 35 years of timeless music.

As the band ripped into "Rebel Rebel", the presence of David Bowie energised the stage before we could see his face. And then the stage lit up and there he was. I don't think any desription could do justice to what I experienced. It wasn't somebody 20 years past it playing their back catalogue. I felt like it was all fresh, it was all now, or I was back there. In a song like "Ashes to Ashes", where he asks us "do you remember a guy that's been in such an early song?" of the lonely Major Tom, he could just as easliy be reflecting in 2004 about his materpiece "Space Oddity" as singing a song that itself is over 20 years old.

It was a Fantastic Voyage (that being the opening song to his album "The Lodger" from the late Seventies, which was one of many songs he played that spanned his musical career. In fact I could probably better write down the setlist in chronological order rather than the order he played them. That's how I remember the concert, as a journey through his work.

We had...

The Man Who Sold The World ("The Man Who Sold The World", 1970)

Life on Mars ("Hunky Dory", 1971)

Five Years

Suffragette City

Ziggy Stardust ("The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust...", 1972)

All The Young Dudes (1974?)

Rebel Rebel ("Diamond Dogs", 1974)

Fame ("Young Americans", 1975)

A New Career in a New Town ("Low", 1977)

Heroes ("Heroes", 1977)

Fantastic Voyage ("The Lodger", 1979)

Ashes to Ashes ("Scary Monsters and Super Creeps", 1980)

Under Pressure, (1981)

China Girl ("Let's Dance", 1983)

Hallo Spaceboy ("Outside", 1995)

I'm Afraid of Americans ("Earthling", 1997)

Sunday

Cactus

I've Been Waiting For You

5:15 The Angels Have Gone ("Heathen", 2002)

New Killer Star

Never Get Old

The Loneliest Guy

Looking For Water

Days

Reality ("Reality", 2003)

...and, thrown in for good measure, a classic cover (one he used to do in the Ziggy era) of the Velvet Underground's "White Light White Heat".

I just couldn't get over how young he acted, how much he engaged the audience, how he talked after every song, throwing in his daggy British humour (almost bordering on Michael Crawford at times).

And after 2 hours of magic, to hear those anthemic guitar chords, and "..Ziggy played guitar" to close the night, well it was brilliant, even if I was expecting it because I couldn't help myself and had familiarised myself with the setlists he'd been playing so far this tour.

My main disappointment was not hearing "Changes", and there were a few others I would have liked to hear, but it didn't take away from a phenomenal performance.

 

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