The Stream Of Warm Impermanence (Golden Eggs EGG-158/159)
Hurricane Festival, ScheeBel, Germany – June 25, 2004
Disc 1 (70:19) Rebel Rebel, Fame, Battle For Britain, Sister Midnight, New Killer Star, Cactus, All The Young Dudes, China Girl, Modern Love, Station To Station, The Man Who Sold The World, Changes, The Loneliest Day, Under Pressure, Ashes To Ashes
Disc 2 (72:24) Quicksand, I’m Afraid Of Americans, Heroes, Life On Mars, Suffragette City, Ziggy Stardust. Bonus Tracks: Live with Arcadia Fire – Fashion Rocks Radio City Music Hall, NY, USA – September 8, 2005: Life On Mars, Wake Up, Five Years. Live With David Gilmour – Royal Albert Hall, London, UK – May 29, 2006: Arnold Layne, Comfortably Numb. Live At Black Ball – Hammerstein Ballroom, NY, USA – November 9, 2006: Wild Is The Wind, Fantastic Voyage, Changes (with Alicia Keys). Live Sung introduction for Ricky Gervais Show – High Line Festival, Madison Square Garden, NY, USA – May 19, 2007: Little Fat Man (Chubby Little Loser)
The most recent David Bowie release from the folks at the Golden Eggs label is one of great interest. It is a two disc title featuring David’s final concert performance as part of the Hurricane Festival in Scheessel, Germany plus bonus tracks featuring David’s final live performances. Most know that David’s prior concert in Prague 23 June 2004 was halted due to David experiencing extreme chest pains, it was found he was suffering from a blocked artery. After just a days rest and certainly under the watchful eye of his family and medical team, David goes ahead and plays the Hurricane Festival in 25 June 2004 after which he underwent emergency angioplasty. The remain dates of the Reality tour were cancelled and Bowie would officially retire from touring in 2006, his performance at the Hurricane Festival would ultimately be his last full concert appearance.
The recording used by Golden Eggs for this title is a near excellent audience recording. The sound is clear and detailed with all instruments and vocals being clearly heard. Being an outside venue you do get the occasional movement of sound and the sound is a bit thin, typical for an outside recording. It’s a festival that drew 40,000 people so there is a bit of crowd noise, clapping and occasional chatting but nothing that takes over the recording or ones enjoyment of it. The mastering done by Golden Eggs is excellent and really brings out the best of the sound, this is a recording that sounds great when turned up as the festival concert atmosphere is well captured.
It’s a rather melancholy feeling listening to this recording knowing that he would not play another live concert, thankfully the concert was archived. The recording begins with the band starting Rebel Rebel and the taper getting settled, there is an improvement in sound as the band play Fame with swagger, David sounds in fine voice and rather cheerful. The consummate showman. An interesting song in the set is one written by Bowie and Iggy Pop that appears on the latter’s 1977 album The Idiot, the album also featured China Girl, a song also in the set. The only new song, New Killer Star from the Reality record is next, the song features some rather ambient guitar from Earl Slick, for being a new song it gets a nice ovation. David gives props to The Pixies as he introduces Cactus, having recorded it for Heathen, the song has been a stalwart of the live set for good reason, Bowie did a great cover of it.
The set flows nicely and the best of Bowie song list runs from early deep cuts like The Man Who Sold The World to the almost progressive Station To Station to the 80’s classics of China Girl and Under Pressure to his most recent album Reality and The Loneliest Guy. Perhaps the most poignant song of this entire set is Quicksand, it really is a beautiful version of the Hunky Dory track. David’s voice is older, deeper, and wiser and this song brings a melancholy feeling to the listener, his lyrics touch on mortality and the knowledge that comes with death’s release. Heroes is the closing song of the set, and based upon the crowd reaction, I find my opinion is justified that Bowie played his very last concert with passion and integrity. The closing song is a whimsical version of his early persona, Ziggy Stardust, a fitting finale.
There is some excellent bonus material documenting David’s onstage performances post 2004. The first three songs come from 2005 as part of the Fashion Rocks Show at New York City’s famed Radio City Music Hall. Life On Mars is David accompanied by Mike Garson, a typically beautiful rendition. the King’s daughter Lisa Marie Presley introduces Bowie backed by Arcadia Fire for Five Years and Fire’s song Wake Up. The sound quality is superb soundboard quality. The next two tracks come from 2006 when Bowie joined Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour for a nostalgic rendition of Arnold Layne, it is well known that Syd Barret was an early influence on David, so this is like coming full circle. David also sings Roger Waters’ parts on an equally wonderful Comfortably Numb. The sound quality is excellent soundboard quality, this material was recently issued by Golden Eggs on the Lyrics Come As Poems title. Staying in 2006, the following three songs features David playing at the Black Ball for the Keep A Child Alive charity. The three song set begins with Wild Is The Wind, again Bowie is accompanied by Mike Garson and turn in a stunning performance also featuring Fantastic Voyage from Lodger and Changes where Alicia Keys joins him, the last two songs feature guitars, bass, and drums joining as well. The sound quality is a good yet low fi audience source. While the quality is merely average, it is a excellent listen. The final track is Bowie singing the theme song to the Ricky Gervais show, Fat Little Man. The recording is an audience source and is again only in the good range, certainly someone had to keep whatever recording device under wraps. This was one of Bowie’s last public appearances so the value of this snippet certainly deserves a place on this set.
The tri gatefold sleeve is adorned with a selection of photos with many coming from the actual events compiled on this set. There is a fold open booklet with the liner notes focusing on an interview with longtime bassist and vocalist Gail Ann Dorsey giving her recollections of the Hurricane Festival performance, that, being the last time she played onstage with him. This is an excellent document of David Bowie’s final live vocal performances and their value to his life’s work cannot be underestimated.