British rock icon, David Bowie, appeared as a headlining artist on the Area2 festival tour launch at Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Virginia, on Sunday, July 28, 2002. Bowie's set was the second to last scheduled on the bill with Area2 musical director Moby.

     With a large illuminated sign that read BOWIE positioned above the stage, the artist walked out alone, singing to keyboard accompaniment and began his set with "Life On Mars". Bowie wore a dark suit with his tie undone, looking cooler than the temperature that registered inside the venue. Band members joined Bowie on stage to complete the sound.

     "China Girl", from Let's Dance composed with Iggy Pop, was delivered with a much harder edge in concert than was recorded originally on that classic 1983 album. Bowie and company rocked on "I'm Afraid Of Americans" as the power chorus of "GOD is an American" built in intensity. Played funky and loose, the pop-beat generated audience approval. Two girls in the aisle wearing kitten ears were perfect foils to the humorous lyrics about Johnny's passions in life.

     "Heroes" was another concert high point. The soft vocal start developed into a rousing live version of this 1977 Bowie classic. Returning for the encore set, Bowie stated, "Hey, you've been great. This is a wonderful night for us". "Everyone Says Hi" kicked off the end of the evening. The mellow tempo of this new composition grew in sound for a strong finish.

     Featuring a reworked arrangement, "Let's Dance" began with a tender vocal intro highlighted by acoustic guitar. As the song progressed, electric guitars, electro-horns, and percussion embellished the impact of this outstanding performance. Earl Slick's searing lead guitar solo was performance perfection.

     "Ziggy Stardust" closed the evening. Possibly as a promotion for the 30th anniversary remastered release of The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars, this number was a show stopping finale. The band's polished rendition was heightened by Bowie's big vocal finish, which included a momentary pause for maximum effect. The BOWIE signed descended behind the band illuminated

     Shawn Sullivan, 33 from Minneapolis, flew in with his fiancee to attend the opening night of the Area2 festival tour. This was only his third time catching Bowie on stage. Sullivan commented, Bowie, "Looked like he was having fun".

     Sullivan prefers Bowie's recorded material commencing with the release of Young Americans to the present day. "Bowie's voice was fresh and energetic", he added. Stand out songs for Sullivan included "Cactus", "Let's Dance", and "Fame", which he though was a solid stage version.

     Bowie performed seven songs from his new studio effort, Heathen. His support band included guitarists Earl Slick and Jerry Leonard, bassist Gail Ann Dorsey, drummer Sterling Campbell, and backing vocalist Katherine Russell. The 2002 Area2 line up presented Moby, Busta Rhymes, Blue Man Group, and more acts on board for the second Area2 festival tour.

Bristow setlist: Life On Mars * Ashes To Ashes * Cactus * Slip Away * China Girl * Fame * I've Been Waiting For You * I Would Be Your Slave * I'm Afraid Of Americans * 5:15 The Angels Have Gone * Heroes * Heathen (The Rays) * Encore: Everyone Says 'Hi' * Let's Dance * Ziggy Stardust

RockonTour   Issue #11
Concert Fan - the Single Source for the Concertphile © 2002 RoT
                  the Single Source for the Concertphile

A musical maestro of metamorphosis
David Bowie launches Area2

by Timothy Tilghman