JUNE 16th - - JULY 24th 2000
David Bowie: Vocals, Guitar
Earl Slick: Guitar
Mike Garson: Keyboards
Gail Ann Dorsey: Bass, Guitar, Clarinet, Vocals
Mark Plati: Guitar, Bass
Sterling Campbell: Drums
Holly Palmer: Backing Vocals, Percussion
Emm Gryner: Backing Vocals, Keyboards, Clarinet
Wild Is The Wind | Life On Mars? | Golden Years | Changes | Stay | China Girl | Survive | Absolute Beginners | Ashes To Ashes | Rebel Rebel | Fame | This Is Not America | All The Young Dudes | Starman | The Man Who Sold The World | Under Pressure | Station To Station | Seven | Thursday's Child | The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell | Hallo Spaceboy | Ziggy Stardust | "Heroes" | Let's Dance | I'm Afraid Of Americans | The Jean Genie | Cracked Actor | Little Wonder | I Dig Everything | The London Boys | Always Crashing In The Same Car
On February 13th 2000 the world's press bubbled with the happy news that Mr and Mrs Bowie were expecting a new addition to the family. David was said to be "utterly overjoyed" and told the press that "It's been a long and patient wait for our baby, but both Iman and I wanted the circumstances to be absolutely right, and didn't want to find ourselves working flat out during the first couple of years of the baby's life."
With the baby due in August, David revealed that his return to the concert stage for a handful of summer engagements would be his last for some time: "That's it for about 18 months," he told the Mirror, "I'm becoming a recluse now!"
In late March, after an absence of 17 years from the Bowie camp, guitarist Earl Slick joined members of the 'hours...' tour band for rehearsals in New York. "Playing with Bowie is like coming home," said Slick, whose presence prompted the addition of three further Station To Station numbers to the previous year's repertoire. Among the other surprises were revivals of "Starman", "Ziggy Stardust", "Let's Dance" and "Absolute Beginners", together with the live premiere of another mid-1980s hit, "This Is Not America". Following the resurrection of "Can't Help Thinking About Me", the appearance of "I Dig Everything" and "The London Boys" fuelled speculation that David was planning to cut a new album of his 1960s songs.
The band played two warm-up gigs on June 16th and 19th at New York's Roseland Ballroom, the second of which was free and exclusive to BowieNet subscribers. A third show on June 17th was called off at two hours' notice when David found he was unable to sing, having contracted a mild dose of laryngitis and strained his voice on the first night; it was the first time in his career that he had been forced to cancel a concert for vocal reasons. Apparently David had suffered several minor ailments in recent weeks, as his body adjusted to his decision to quit smoking in anticipation of the arrival of Iman's baby (a resolution that wasn't to last; he was back on the Marlboro Lights by October). The BowieNet show was attended by Iman, Duncan, Susan Sarandon and various members of The Cure. The band was joined for the encores by Thomas Dolby, and the show began with a special treat: playing drums on the opening "Wild Is The Wind" was David's veteran percussionist Dennis Davis, last heard on Scary Monsters. It would be Davis's final appearance with Bowie; he sadly died in April 2016.
On June 23rd the band appeared on Channel 4's TFI Friday, taping four songs of which only the first two, "Wild Is The Wind" and "Starman", were transmitted. Two days later came Bowie's headlining set at the Glastonbury Festival, his first appearance at the event since 1971. Glastonbury coordinator Michael Eavis could scarcely contain his delight, describing Bowie's set as "absolutely fantastic. He promised me the show of a lifetime and he delivered it." The critics, too, were in raptures: "a masterclass in superstardom," declared The Mirror, reporting that "Other big-name acts watched open-mouthed." The NME raved about "the breadth and intent of this fantastic performance," while The Times believed that "it will be remembered as the occasion at which Bowie won new respect." A selection of numbers from the Glastonbury set was screened on BBC2.
On June 27th a more intimate concert was taped at London's BBC Radio Theatre for broadcast later in the year. The star-studded audience included Boy George, Simon Le Bon, Lulu, Bob Geldof, Russell Crowe, Meg Ryan and Richard E Grant. Mike Garson, who had provided appropriate curtain-up music for each gig on the tour ("I'll Take Manhattan" in New York; "Greensleeves" at Glastonbury) played Gershwin's "A Foggy Day In London Town" as the band took to the stage. David was still being dogged by throat problems, and during the encores was forced to call an adjournment while he downed a glass of water. The band played an instrumental jam based on "The Jean Genie" until Bowie returned to the fray, refreshed and apparently cured, and once again happy to banter with the audience.
An excellent hour-long selection from the concert was screened on BBC2 on September 24th, the day before the release of Bowie At The Beeb, whose initial pressings also included a bonus live disc with fifteen tracks from the gig, bearing witness to a charged, proficient performance radiating enthusiasm and warmth. Despite his illness David's bonhomie was if anything even more pronounced than in the previous year. For the 2000 dates he had taken to wearing a succession of flamboyant three-quarter-length coats, and with his luxuriant hair now teased into soft waves, he resembled nothing so much as his Man Who Sold The World persona of thirty years earlier. His vocal problems barely affected the standard of the performances, which were spectacular. Numbers like "Life On Mars?" and the superb "Wild Is The Wind" (a pair of songs which David reprised at the Yahoo! Internet Life Online Music Awards in New York on July 24th, where he was nominated Online Pioneer of 2000) showcased a dramatic, full-bodied Bowie, evidently relishing his reunion with one of his finest guitarists, and bowing out of live performance - for the time being at least - in magnificent from.