Nantes 97 (DB061697 1-2)
Earthling Tour, La Trocadiere, Nantes, June 16th, 1997
CD 1: Dead man walking , The man who sold the world , Strangers when we meet , The last thing you should do , V-2 Schneider , I’m afraid of Americans , White light, white heat , The motel , Battle for Britain (The letter) , Seven years in Tibet , Pallas Athena , Fashion
CD2: Fame , Is it any wonder ? , Under pressure , Stay , Telling lies , Looking for satellites , O superman , The Jean Genie , Queen Bitch , All the young dudes , Hallo spaceboy , Scary monsters (And super creeps) , Little wonder
The genesis of the 1997 Earthling album could be found in the laid back tame jungle style that featured on its predecessor ‘1.Outside’ but its inspiration was in fact to be found on a 1993 tape given to Bowie by a friend. “The original London guys like General Levy…I found it all so exciting, as exciting as any new rhythm that’s going to become the vocabulary of that time” The Earthling album combined Bowie’s long standing love of hard rock with jungle rhythms and industrial work outs with the result being an album that reaffirmed his position as a cutting edge innovator.
The Earthling Tour in support of the album ran from June to November 1997 and Nantes 97 chronicles the sixth show of the tour proper.
This is a more than excellent sounding audience recording that accurately captures Bowie and his four piece band radically reworking obscure songs and old favourites alongside the then current Earthling songs. The result is something quite magical which demands to be played loudly and constantly fascinates.
‘V2 Schneider’ appears for the first time 20 years after it was originally conceived but here it is so radically altered along techno lines that it is barely recognisable as is another instrumental, ‘Pallas Athena’. ‘The Jean Genie’ starts slow with a nice bluesy feel before thundering into a more familiar version. ‘Fame’ is presented with blasts of bass that imbibes the song with great menace finally bleeding into an extended instrumental based on a single sampled line ‘Is It any Wonder’ that would eventually turn into a track called ‘Fun’.
A mammoth nine minute reworking of Laurie Anderson’s ‘O Superman’ sees bassist Gail Ann Dorsey on lead vocal duties and fits in perfectly with the rest of the set. All the songs have great power and energy and the new arrangements work fantastically well and even today are quite startling.
I first came across this recording as half of a four CDR set produced by 100% British called ‘Dancing on Angels’ that also featured the shorter gig from Parc Des Princes in Paris and a wonderfully silly country and western version of ‘Scary Monsters’.
This release may possibly originate from the same anonymous label that released ‘The Spiders From Aylesbury’. It is presented in a slim jewel case with two identical black and white picture discs and rather dull artwork that features images from the tour. The ‘Best of’ brigade may not appreciate this release but the fantastic performance, great sound and interesting set list make it essential for everyone else.