RIYL: Mott the Hoople, Queen, Iggy Pop
David Bowie’s 2003-04 “A Reality” tour wasn’t billed as his last, but until he decides to jump back onto the stage for another go-round, that’s exactly what it is. And while the double CD A Reality Tour serves as a five-years-late memento of that occasion (and companion piece to the 2004 DVD of the same name), it still comes off as fresh and exhilarating as the concerts themselves felt five years ago. A big reason for this is Bowie’s achieving the sweet feat of placing copious material from his last two studio albums – 2002’s Heathen and 2003’s Reality – among his ’70s, ’80s and ’90s classics in the best possible light. That is, “Afraid” and “New Killer Star” sound quite at home among older gems like “Breaking Glass” and “Ashes to Ashes.” And while such a large amount of new material (ten songs out of 33) inevitably leaves no room for big hits like “Young Americans” or “Space Oddity” (I also clearly remember Bowie playing “Blue Jean,” also left off this set, at the show I attended in 2004), the strength of all the material here – which also includes his takes on tunes he gave to Mott the Hoople (“All The Young Dudes”) and Iggy Pop (“Sister Midnight”) – is enough so that the stray hits aren’t really missed at all.
One could call this a “career overview,” as the album’s accompanying press release would have us believe, but in practice, A Reality Tour feels more like a continuation of Bowie’s career arc, one that he has left open-ended despite its skewing towards the sound he created on his last two albums and his late ’70s collaborations with Brian Eno. Even if he decides not to return to the world stage, however, he has surely left his legacy in fine shape. (ISO/Columbia/Legacy 2010)