David Bowie – A Reality Tour

David Bowie
A Reality Tour
ISO Records

The mention of double live albums have come to strike fear in the hearts of fans and critics alike when in regards to a classic artist who’s entering their sixth decade on the scene (or even their third). And when the word “retrospective” is thrown around, tensions only grow higher. Yet somehow the ineffably suave and charismatic David Bowie has managed to dodge the bullet on his A Reality Tour. The album is the long-awaited audio companion to a DVD of the same name, released in 2004, documenting two nights at the Point Depot in Dublin, Ireland on his Reality Tour.

Of course, when dealing with “classics,” a few decades after their release, there are always a few casualties. The youthful flamboyance of “Rebel Rebel” sounds a little silly coming from someone in their 50s, “Fame” has been a bit hallowed out by its use in the films of Julia Roberts and Ice Cube, and “Under Pressure” sounds… well, “Under Pressure” was always pretty lame. The ballads, however, prove that, if treated with proper tenderness, glitter has quite a shelf life: The clever coyness of “Life on Mars?” continue to shine as Mr. Bowie’s masterpiece (and a still-shockingly-poignant commentary); “All The Young Dudes” (the audience favorite of the night) still rings more sincere than any anthem of femme boi-dom that even Brian Molko has managed to muster, and “Ziggy Stardust” remains the definitive anthem of rock stardom (oh, if only they would listen).

The most intriguing performances in this collection, though, are of those songs birthed in the past decade and those likely missed (when they first appeared on 2002’s Heathen 2003’s Reality) by many picking up this live release. The upbeatedly-self-deprecating “Reality” displays an aged elegance added to Mr. Bowie’s crass pop perfection, the sentimentally tragic splendor of “Slip Away” is just as jarring to those hearing it the first time or the fiftieth, and “The Loneliest Guy” is one of the most beautifully traumatizing dramatic exercises of the decade. – Izzy Cihak