Chicago -- For the second night in a row, Chicago was treated to a small show by a
rock legend. David Bowie and the Chemical Brothers stole some of the
musical spotlight from a town abuzz with Rolling Stones rumors as they
played the third and final Miller Genuine Draft Blind Date concert Friday night.
Although most of the rumors surrounding this mystery show centered around a
certain foursome in town, Bowie took the stage himself and didn't
disappoint. Not that the audience, comprised of 600 contest winners (300 of
whom were flown in for the occasion from around the country) were going to
be too picky. "No matter who the band is, it's a great event," said Patrick
Estevez from Puerto Rico, when questioned before the show began. "It's a great party and I've met a lot of great people."
With the previous bills in this series being headlined by Bush in L.A and
the Foo Fighters in San Francisco no one expected to be disappointed.
As a nice set-up, the Chemical Brothers opened the show at the Vic theater. Despite all the hype surrounding bands like them and Prodigy,
the audience was unmoved by the beats and rhythms put out by this British
The Chemical Brothers seemed to have trouble really interacting with the crowd from behind
their array of samplers and keyboards, all mounted on a riser on the stage.
And let's face it, they're not big on stage presence. If they programmed
computers instead of sequencers, they'd be labeled geeks. Toward the end of
their 40-minute set, the strobes and the free beer had started to seep
through the audience and there was some reaction from the fans on the
That all changed as Bowie took the stage. Bowie is, of course, a consummate veteran performer, conscious at every moment of the image he is
presenting. The stage included props such as
painted eye-ball balloons about six feet in diameter (which later were
bopped around the audience) and mannequins shaped like alien visitors who
at times had faces projected on them. Long-time Bowie collaborator,
guitarist Reeves Gabrels, was dressed in a kilt. Bowie's outfit was a more
subtle grey shirt and pants, but the spotlight was on him, and he owned
The feel of the show was casual and Bowie worked the crowd, often pointing,
waving, shaking hands with the fans who crushed up against the stage. His set didn't vary from the mix of old and new material he's been playing on his current club and theater tour. It featured a mix of songs
from his two most recent albums, Earthling and Outside, as well as some
selections from his '70s catalog including "Scary Monsters" and "Fame." He also
threw in some Velvet Underground covers and his rendition of the Mott
the Hoople anthem he wrote and produced for that group, "All the Young Dudes."
Even during the show, however, eyes kept drifting over to the wings to see
if perhaps Mick Jagger might just drop in to refresh his and Bowie's take
on "Dancing in the Street." When he didn't show, there was a touch of
disappointment in the crowd -- and certainly among the 75 people hangin' around outside the theater hoping Jagger and the rest of the Stones would show. [Sat., Sept. 20, 1997, 9 a.m. PST]