Concert Review: David Bowie with Macy Gray, Rosemont Theater, Wednesday, January 14
It's astonishing that David Bowie has never considered live performance to
be his strength since he is blessed with so much charisma. Besides showing
off his stage presence in his show Wednesday at the Rosemont Theater, he
also showed that he is one of very few rock stars who are still cool well
into their 50's and that, unlike the Rolling Stones, he views touring as
yet another opportunity for risk-taking, not just raking in the cash.
One downside of his making a specific effort to vary the set list each night
of his three-date stop in Chicago is that he spent a great deal of time talking
to the audience about each song; it came across as an attempt to remind himself
and the rest of the band what they planned to play next. On the other had,
they clearly put thought behind the arrangements, starting "Let's Dance"
with a samba rhythm and "Heroes" with a raunchy guitar line.
He obviously couldn't do all his hits in a 2 1/4 hour set, but he chose from
throughout his career, from "The Man Who Sold the World" through his excellent
cover of the Pixies "Cactus" that highlights the song's sexual longing by
bringing the vocals to the forefront. Plus he did lots of stuff from his
latest disc Reality. Two timely selections were "Life on Mars" and
"Ziggy Stardust," with enough mentions of the red planet to leave a NASA
For Macy Gray, "neo-soul" hardly seems the right term. Considering
the sonic and visual references to P-Funk, the Jackson 5 and Morris Day &
the Time she and her backing band made, neo-funk is much more apropos. The
whole bunch of them looked like they were having a blast, and Gray really
knew how to work the audience. It's unfortunate that the public hasn't embraced
anything by her since "I Try," because she looks more likely to be written
off as a one-hit wonder than respected for the depth of her talent.