A Reality Tour

David Bowie

Better late than never. In this case, seven years after David Bowie’s delightful A Reality Tour DVD splashed down comes a double CD set of the same name featuring music from the same Dublin concerts. The new CDs, however, are buffed out with three unreleased bonus tracks: "Fall Dog Bombs The Moon," "Breaking Glass" and "China Girl." The career-spanning A Reality Tour captures the ageless Thin White Duke at a sprite and productive period, blending a bit of the old with the new, and backed by a first-rate, six-piece group of musicians and singers.

Bowie knows how to work a crowd, and the best way to hook them is to come out swinging. The one-two punch of “Rebel Rebel” ropes ‘em in from the get-go. With its catch-and-release chorus and irresistible, participatory stomp, the song sets the pace for a double-dose of reality — “New Killer Star” and “Reality,” from the then-just released Reality album (hence the reason this was the Reality tour).

The high-energy continues with a succession of snappy rockers like “Cactus,” “All The Young Dudes” and “The Man Who Sold the World.” A couple of seemingly out-of-left-fielders written with Brian Eno — “Fantastic Voyage” and “Hallo Spaceboy” — eclecticize the restless crowd. “Under Pressure,” sang with bassist Gail Ann Dorsey, resurrects that feel-goodiness , and we’re still listening to the first CD.

The second disc plays musical chairs with its share of oldies, newbies, rockers, and the general weirdness that makes David Bowie such a charmer. “Ashes To Ashes” sways and swiggles; “Loving The Alien” eschews the sublime for the exotic; “Changes” is simply metaphoric in its urgency; “I’m Afraid Of Americans” is like a sobering slap in the face. It’s obvious “Heroes” has become an on-your-feet crowd-pleaser — its transcendental potion ripened during The Concert for New York City and has yet to let up.

“Bring Me The Head Of The Disco King,” another one from Reality, is reason enough Bowie should make another studio album. It’s been much too long, much longer than “Five Years,” which retroacts the encore of “Hang On To Yourself” and “Ziggy Stardust.” The three extras — “Fall Dog Bombs The Moon,” “Breaking Glass” and “China Girl” — were excluded from the DVD, but they certainly sweeten the pot here. Either way, the results are in. A Reality Tour, visually and sonically, is a comprehensive crash-course in all things David Bowie — back in the day, more recently, and hopefully in the future.

~ Shawn Perry

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