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DAVID BOWIE - A Reality Tour   Print  E-mail 
Written by Mark Reed  
Monday, 01 February 2010

The future of the past

With Bowie in a virtual retirement – and who can blame him – the thin great white duke, or whatever guise he has entered now – has become what he never previously entertained, a retrospective, a nostalgia show. This – his umpteenth reissue of recent years, plugs the alleged gap in his oeuvre with yet another concert album. (Hot on the heels of “Santa Monica ‘72” and “VH1 Storytellers”).

“A Reality Tour” is the audio document of his final tour. In its bluntest form, it’s nothing more and nothing less than an audio port of the DVD of the same with three extra songs appended at the end. And since (aside from a rudderless 80’s) Bowie never truly went through a fallow period, it’s an artistically valid – albeit belated and baffling – release that seems motivated largely by a desire to keep the Bowie Gravy Train rolling than anything else.

By 2003, Bowie, having reached his late fifties, had reclined into the elder statesmen role – the final phase of his career being a leather jacketed, lean old man, thankfully avoiding the clichιs of Growing Old Disgracefully. Whilst there were areas he brushed over, such as 1987’s “Never Let Me Down”, he seemed a man at peace with his body of work and appreciative of many parts of it.

Thus, dispensing with the acrid taste of nostalgia, Bowie covers all bases of his career from an opening “Rebel, Rebel”(with a little too much cowbell) to the final “Reality” (represented by five songs.. five songs more than most artists play from their latest album on tour these days). And whilst popular conception is that Bowie was on the wane at the end of his career, this is nonsense. He was one of the few of that generation (alongside Pink Floyd, and not much else) that remained consistently alert and alive.

So… the Bowie Pension Fund motive aside, “A Reality Tour” is a worthy and valid live package, containing 32 songs from Bowie’s final concert run, and whilst it seems that he may be, to all intents and purposes, dormant now – and who can blame him? – this is proof that to the end, Bowie was, at all points, both moving himself to new places, and moving us to a different place with him. Reality is often underwhelming and disappointing : not Bowie’s Reality.

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