Steve's Birthday Concert review

Steve has this review of the Birthday Benefit concert.

Little Wonder
Have you seen his performance of this song at the VH1 Fashion Award show? You know the way he staggers up to center stage with bent knees and looking hip? Same here. A large screen came down over the stage like a curtain with a film projection of a dancing girl wearing a tight strapless dress, twirling and jumping about on one side of the screen and her reflection on the other. Though, I was told later this was actually a man (OK, another jump on the crying game wagon for me). OK, then the screen came up, but the stage was dark, grew brighter in steps, until the whole stage was lit up electric white--the thing worked like a stripping. Strip of the clothes. Then strip off the flesh with:

The Hearts Filthy Lesson
Bowie introduces this one as coming from the movie Seven. The stage is bathed in blood, a heart-like shape against the back wall, "Paddy--who's been wearing Miranda's clothes" -- the stage went purple for that line, then fell to bruising yellow, that yellow the skin turns after coming from a black and blue mark. "The horror, the horror" (But not quite since Angie* didn't show up.)

Scary Monsters
Frank Black waddles out wearing (from my view) what can be most closely described as light blue pajamas, not to mention his gut hanging out (rub my tummy and make a wish, David). So, they trade off vocals. I remember Frank singing "she's stupid in the street and she can't socialize". Throw your voice into your teeth and lips, let the words come through jagged, enunciating every syllable, and maybe you can emulate the famous Frank Black sound. And spit when you say the word "stupid".

Again, same as the VH1 Fashion Awards version, except this time with a balding fat guy singing, and of course with fashion sense. Irony alert.

Telling Lies
I sort of went into a trance during Telling Lies. The same trance I had learned to get in when listening to the single, open mouthed and drooling--comatose. The phrase "ooh, ah, missionary" slowly eating its way into my brain. And that disgusting distorted Bowie voice--my brain turns to goo. And suddenly I was awake! Could it be? I liked the song! Fluid and temptuous where is had been crooked and malignant. At the end of the song they let loose giant eyeball balloons into the mosh pit (and from where I was sitting it appeared as though the moshers were grabbing and pulling at the balloons until one by one they popped letting out with each a giant puff of smoke. Though the moshers themselves deny any such thing. They loved those balloons, and would've never done anything to hurt them). The eyeballs were of course of salute to The Residents.

Hallo Spaceboy (w/ Foo Fighters)
Three drummers going insane. Dave Grohl one of them and using his head as a drumstick. Arms go up, head comes down. You 'Animal' from the Muppets, right? A thoroughly loud and violent take, with Bowie's voice cascading over the booming Hell like angelic saviors.

Seven Years In Tibet
Again, with Foo Fighters. I don't remember anything about this one, except that I like it. Grohl took his place on guitar through this one. Pat Smear with his trademark grin on both songs. And I thought the Foo Fighters fought the 'foo' quite well.

The Man Who Sold The World
Get the Strangers When We Meet single, get some cool lighting (I think they used blue), and you were there.

The Last Thing You Should Do (w/ Robert Smith)
Wow--they played this? I'm just taking the song names from the set list Mart provided us. What album is this off? Is it even a Bowie song?? Email me:

Smith's voice: dark, ragged and on the verge of crying. Fit this song like hand in glove. The version stuck in my head for days, revived my appreciation of the original.

Battle For Britain
English soldiers stormed onto the stage. The American held strong, and in the end crushed the limy bastards!! Well, not quite.

Voyeur Of Utter Destruction (As Beauty)
A large pillow like sack inflates it's way on stage. It's a screen, as we see an enormous Bowie face pushed into it. The face is worried. The eyes stagger. Paranoid wrinkles on the forehead. The face singing along with the "I say" refrain -- the greatest "doubling effect" I've ever experienced.

I'm Afraid Of Americans
Sonic Youth on this one and a storm of guitar-sound! Thruston's grinding guitar as always. But all in all a conservative performance by all means for Sonic Youth. I loved Kim Gordon's red dress.

Looking For Satellites
Another song I don't remember too well.

Under Pressure
Same as on the HalloSpacecowboy single.

Bowie on center stage alone, the band hidden behind screens. A performance somehow invoking past, present and future, simultaneously.

Queen Bitch (w/ Lou Reed)
Waiting For The Man (w/ Lou Reed)
Dirty Boulevard (w/ Lou Reed)
White Light White Heat (w/ Lou Reed)
A show in itself. Needs its own review. Any takers? Strange thing, though: when Lou Reed was announced people started grunting, 'Lou, Lou,' but it sounded so much like, 'boo, boo'. I got confused for a sec. But that might have been just me.

Moonage Daydream
He did a pelvic thrust during the 'in, out' line. Just like the version on the HalloSpaceCowboy single.

Happy Birthday
A lesson: leave the singing to Bowie for now on, kids.

All The Young Dudes (w/ Billy Corgan)
The Jean Genie (w/ Billy Corgan)
Try real hard to imagine it and I bet you can. Almost expected Corgan to throw in a nice 'I used to be a little boy' line.

Space Oddity
A solitary spotlight hits the stage. Bowie struts into it with acoustic guitar. The countdown done with a pre-recorded electronic voice. Milky keyboard sound floating beneath the acoustic.

* Bowie's ex-wife and she-devil

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This document last updated Tuesday, 15-Sep-1998 21:34:39 EDT
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