Under Pressure Live At Greek Theatre Los Angeles 2004 (Project Zip PJZ-078A/B)
CDR1 : Rebel Rebel, Battle for Britain (the letter) , New Killer Star, Cactus, Fashion, All the Young Dudes, Try Some, Buy Some, China Girl, Fame, The Loneliest Guy, The Man Who Sold the World, Hallo Spaceboy, Sunday, Heathen (The Rays), Band Intro,
CDR2 : Under Pressure, Days, The Supermen, The Motel, Looking For Water, Ashes To Ashes, Quicksand, I’m Afraid Of Americans, “Heroes”, Encores: Slip Away (with the Polyphonic Spree), Hang On To Yourself, King Bee/Five Years, Suffragette City, Ziggy Stardust.
When Bowie turned up the Greek Theatre on April 22nd 2004 as part of his worldwide ‘Reality’ tour it was his Fifth sell-out show in Los Angeles in a three month period.
Cheering Bowie on at the Greek was an eclectic mix of figures from the music and film worlds, including Anthony Kiedis & Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Marilyn Manson, Page Hamilton of Helmet, Gavin Rossdale, Brian Setzer, Serj Tankian and Daron Malakian from System of a Down, Timothy B. Schmit of The Eagles, No Doubt’s Tony Kanal, Vanessa Carlton, and previous Bowie collaborators, bassist Tony Sales and producer Ken Scott. They were all seen backstage at the after-party, joined by actors Johnny Knoxville, Lara Flynn Boyle and Rosanna Arquette, plus film producer Luc Besson. (Source:Bowienet)
The Reality Tour demonstrated why Bowie possesses enduring appeal showcasing as it did his feel for artistic reinvention with a major emphasis on songs from his then last two albums ‘Reality’ and ‘Heathen’.
’New Killer Star’ and ‘The Loneliest Guy,’ both from the then latest album, are two of this CDs highlights among many, sitting comfortably alongside stunning renditions of the classic tunes. For ‘Slip Away’ The Polyphonic Spree, the support act, join Bowie for a simply outstanding version of one of my personal favourite tunes. Very few acts of Bowie’s generation would be so confident in their new material that they would happily perform it to such a multi-generational audience. The six piece backing band of Bowie veterans is so tight it’s almost telepathic but the greatest instrument is Bowie’s voice. From monotone to baritone croon, faux cockney to shrill glam Bowie delivers it all and then some. Bowie’s performance here and for the majority of the tour is simply breathtaking. Even when an idiot from the audience gets on stage and shouts into the microphone during ‘Fashion’ Bowie remains cool and amiable even playfully threatening the crowd in retaliation “What ya gonna do about it? Sing the next song with me I suppose”
This release from Project Zip is a so-called ‘Pro CDR’ and is a claimed lift from the soundboard. However, to my ears it sounds like the source is lead Guitarists Earl Slick’s in-ear monitors. The balance is biased towards lead guitar and vocals, then Drums, Bass and Backing Vocals, then Piano and rhythm guitar. Multi –Instrumentalist Catherine Russell’s contribution is barely audible at all.
It is presented in a slim jewel case with single-sided artwork. Despite the rather odd guitar-prominent sound balance, we are left with a fantastic stereo representation of the tour in near perfect quality that still seems to work and is thoroughly enjoyable. At least that’s the case for the first of the two CDRs of this release. Infuriatingly the second disc suffers from some very loud and intrusive ‘static’ noise and an increase in distortion on Bowie’s voice. Okay it’s not a show-stopper and only happens occasionally but it does detract from what would otherwise be an unreserved recommendation.
So CDR 2 is good but no gold star, whereas CDR 1 wins five stars, all gold-plated and encrusted with diamonds. Then again they are CDRs……