After a decade filled with albums that left David Bowie’s star flickering among critics and fans, he still had enough star power to be slotted as the closing-night headliner at the 2000 Glastonbury Festival. It turned out to be the perfect choice as Bowie rose to the occasion with two hours of enduring classics while remaining attuned to his current activities.
Since the live national broadcast on BBC had an agreement with the artist to cut away after four songs and return during the encore, this Glastonbury 2000 finally offers the complete set in audio and visual form. Through the wonders of this production, the 2 CD set allows listeners to close their eyes and feel the ambience of visiting Worthy Farm on that Sunday night (or you could just watch the DVD).
While the setlist spans 30 years, none of material has gathered any dust, especially with the assistance of his nimble backing band that included veteran collaborators Mike Garson on keyboards, Earl Slick on guitar and Gail Ann Dorsey who subs for Freddie Mercury on “Under Pressure.” “The Man Who Sold the World” and “Changes” are the earliest numbers among the 22 songs with a visit to his Ziggy Stardust era via the title track, “Life On Mars?” and “Starman,” a stop at “Station to Station” and riveting, as always, ““Heroes”” and latter-day tunes “Little Wonder” and “Hallo Spaceboy.” In a move that’s surprising yet significantly defiant, Bowie ends the night with “I’m Afraid of Americans” from 1997 “Earthling” rather than adding one more classic.
With hair and an outfit alluding to his Man Who Sold the World era and his original appearance at the Glastonbury in 1970 it visually adds to the idea that this could have been among Bowie’s greatest “performances.” Early on, he relates to being incredibly nervous but sounds confident, in control and eminently charming. He mentions that he had laryngitis earlier in the week and requests the enthusiastic crowd to sing along if his voice gives out but from the opener “Wild Is the Wind,” through “Rebel Rebel,” “All the Young Dudes” and “Let’s Dance” it sounds incredibly strong on the upper and lower registers of the arrangements.
Altogether, it proves that Bowie’s appearance at Glastonbury was indeed the triumph that those who witnessed it firsthand pronounced it 18 years ago.