Shortly before embarking on what would be his final tour, Bowie took a batch of new songs (recorded specifically with touring in mind), plenty of hits and some rather obscure numbers out to a small crowd at the Poughkeepsie Theater in New York in the shape of a warm up gig before embarking on his “A Reality Tour”. Right from the outset of this performance, Bowie was rather nervous and spent pretty much the entirety of the show reminding the small audience just how nervous he was. Mind, there was no need to be nervous because right from the outset, the band was tight and the singer in question was at the top of his game.
It had only been a smidgen under a year since the Heathen tour was competed around the five Burroughs of New York. Now, he was back and ready to take a new album on the road and include stops all over Europe, America and Australasia. “Pablo Picasso” and “Fall Dog Bombs The Moon” were both contenders for live set classics throughout the tour sounding perhaps, a little better than they do on record. Then he only went and pulled out “Fantastic Voyage”, “Sister Midnight”, “The Man Who Sold The World” and “Hang Onto Yourself”. Whilst not being instantly recognizable to the masses on tour, they were songs that would strike a chord with die hard fans everywhere the tour went.
During his final years of touring, Bowie enjoyed playing close to home more and more. He would play more shows in New York between 1997 and 2004 than any other city in the world and always seemed chatty and jovial. His interaction at this Poughkeepsie gig was extra special for some strange reason. It was almost as if he knew he was bowing out from large scale tours and wanted to embrace, enjoy, treasure and enjoy moment along the way from start to finish.
So how is the sound on this recording? Well, it’s up there with the best from the “A Reality Tour” that’s for sure. It’s crystal clear from start to finish, captures all the banter perfectly and picks up some of the quirky crowd behavior to boot. In a nutshell, this is the kind of show you can listen to many times over and never tire of it.
Concert goers who would catch this tour around the world were very lucky. Nobody had an inkling but it would turn out to be his last tour and despite making a handful of cameo appearances here and there, by the latter half of the decade, he was completely out of sight from the public eye. They say reality is a starc departure from fantasy however with this show and the ensuing tour that would follow, Bowie managed to link both together hand in hand to deliver a beautiful swansong that remains in our conscience to this day.
SET LIST: Reality/Modern Love/New Killer Star/Cactus/The Battle For Britain (The Letter)/Pablo Picasso/Afraid/Fall Dog Bombs The Moon/Sister Midnight/I’m Afraid Of Americans/She’ll Drive The Big Car/Suffragette City/Fantastic Voyage/Never Get Old/The Man Who Sold The World/Rebel Rebel/Hang Onto Yourself/Heathen (The Rays)