“Looking for Satellites” is one of the better songs on Earthling — in my opinion at least, and for better or worse, that’s the one that matters here. Even so, it goes on a bit too long, and though Reeves Gabrels is relatively restrained for most of it, he can’t resist a bit of wankery in the latter stages. But the visual presentation is striking, and Mike Garson’s coda — not present in the album version, which fades out — is a nice touch.
And that’s the end of the “You will now listen to my new material” part of the show; from here on in it’s all classics. If you were one of the people in the audience who twiddled their thumbs through the Earthling and Outside stuff, I bet you were pretty happy to hear the familiar bassline that kicks off the next song:
It takes guts to step into the Freddie Mercury role here, but Gail Ann Dorsey handles it with aplomb. And with all due respect, she has great legs as well.
If you’d been waiting for the hits, I bet you were smiling after that one. And you were probably smiling even more when this happened:
“Heroes” is Bowie’s most-covered song, I think. It’s covered way too much, in fact, and rarely well. The nuance always gets lost; remember that “Heroes” is in quotes to begin with. It’s not an anthem… well, it is… but it isn’t. It’s complicated. If I were the Emperor of Music, I would impose a lengthy moratorium on “Heroes” covers, give it a little time to breathe.
Anyway, the 50th birthday version is a pretty good one. Gabrels, perhaps as a birthday present, plays about as tastefully as he can — though he is constitutionally incapable of emulating Robert Fripp’s elegant minimalism. The rhythm section keeps things chugging along, and if it can’t quite match the motorik majesty of the original song, what can? For five minutes I can forget all the baggage and I can love “Heroes” again, just for one day.