Area 2 Festival, Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto, ON, Canada – August 5, 2002 – CBC Radio Broadcast
(79:11) Ashes To Ashes, Breaking Glass, Cactus, Slip Away, China Girl, I’ve Been Waiting For You, 5:15 The Angels Have Gone, Heathen (The Rays), Fashion, Let’s Dance, Ziggy Stardust. Nokia Isle Of Wight Summer Festival, Seaclose Park, Newport, England June 13, 2004 – Virgin Radio Broadcast; Rebel Rebel, New Killer Star, Cactus, Fame, All The Young Dudes, Heroes
The latest David Bowie release from the prolific Eat A Peach label collects two radio broadcasts from the early 2000’s. Culled from two different concerts, the concerts were edited down prior to broadcast and while both are complete as broadcasts, do not represent the complete concerts as they were played. The first 11 songs are the CBC Radio Broadcast from Bowie’s appearance on the Area 2 Festival, the summer touring alternative musical festival organized by electronic artist Moby consisting of rock, pop, and electronic artists. The stop in Toronto would be the source for this recording, David Plati, who had produced Bowie’s Earthling album would mix the recording for broadcast (he also plays guitar in Bowie’s band). The sound is excellent, superbly balanced sounding recording, the mix of band is spot on and captures the ambience of the performance perfectly, this demands to be played at a nice loud volume, so the neighbors can enjoy it as well.
The concert begins with David addressing the crowd after the opening number (Life on Mars? not on this recording) as he states his intentions to the crowd. Ashes To Ashes is met with a nice ovation, the 7 person band provides a lush backdrop to Bowie and his music and the electronic soundscapes of Ashes is perfectly complimented by the electric guitars. David introduces Breaking Glass as being from Low, it is met with quiet applause to which Bowie states “fifteen people who bought that album…sorry 17”. Bowie had revisited the record just a few weeks prior to this during his July 2002 stop in Montreux, Switzerland were he played virtually the complete record. The version of Slip Away is sublime, David’s voice resonates through the lavish sound and is by far, my favorite track on this disc. The cover of Neil Young’s I’ve Been Waiting is also excellent, for me the mark of a real artist is when they take someone else’s music and make it sound like they wrote it, this song is in that category. The guitar playing is excellent, having three guitarists give you the ability to harmonize as well as play some dissident sounds underneath. Since the band was touring in support of Heathen, the record is well represented in this recording, with five tracks played, the remainder of the songs are Bowie classics, Fashion is electronica fused funk while Let’s Dance begins in true Bowie re imagination, the beginning is only recognizable when he begins singing and it slowly evolves from melancholy acoustic to get down and dance. Ziggy Stardust is the final song on the recording, Bowie starts by saying its “anti climatic” yet the audience, and listener, eat it up. Amazing how a song recorded some 20 years prior to this still sounds fresh.
The recording from Isle Of Wight is a very good broadcast and is certainly a step (or two) down from the Toronto recording. It is the complete broadcast, it has another release Isle Of Wight 2004 (ACE 134), a title I do not own so this review will focus on what is here. As with many recordings culled from an actual broadcast it is a bit flat sounding and has a bit of a hum to it. The sound has a lot of audience in it making for a nice atmospheric recording that falls into the very good range. What makes this concert historic is that it was the last concert David would play on UK soil, he would play just five more concerts before canceling live performances due to health and retiring from touring altogether.
The broadcast starts with Rebel Rebel, the crowd is enthused and the band plays well. New Killer Star is the sole “new” track from Reality, live it’s a bit heavier than on record. We get another version of Bowie’s cover of The Pixies’ Cactus and a great metal funkified version of Fame. The guitar is raunchy and almost heavy metal reminding me of the Smashing Pumpkins version played on the Howard Stern show. Curiously the final song is Heroes, again the band plays a version that starts almost stuttered and pulsing version, knowing now this would be his final concert in the UK make the lyrics that much more poignant.
The packaging is typical for Eat A Peach, mini LP sleeve adorned with pictures from the era as well as font / graphics from the A Reality Tour live album. There is an 8 page insert with nice liner notes, personnel and song list for each of the recordings as well as a nice array of live shots. A very nice collection of broadcast fragments assembled in a nice package.