- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 30, 2002

It may be Moby's tour, but through outstanding songs and sheer animal magnetism, David Bowie owns Area 2.

The tour kicked off Sunday at Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Va., featuring as diverse and talented an array of performers Moby, Mr. Bowie, Busta Rhymes, Blue Man Group and Ash on the main stage, plus a disc jockey tent as any package in recent memory.

Mr. Bowie, wearing a black three-piece suit with an untied blue tie, and still impossibly svelte at 55, controlled the crowd from the moment he strode onstage and flashed a knowing grin during the piano introduction to set-opener "Life on Mars."

He played seven songs from his critically lauded but not hot-selling new album, "Heathen." They were not as warmly received as the classic hits but, driven by Sterling Campbell's aggressive rock drumming, they crackled with intensity.

After a beautiful rendition of "Heroes," his desperate 1977 ballad about lovers on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall which culminated in his flat-out yelling "We can be heroes / Yeah!" Mr. Bowie delicately negotiated his new album's title track before leaving the stage.

A consummate showman, he used that exit early, somber to set up the crowd for an anthemic mini-encore, capped by perhaps his best-loved songs, "Let's Dance" and "Ziggy Stardust."

When "Ziggy's" crashing opening chords hit, and Mr. Bowie faded in with that familiar, sky-high "Ahhhhh, yeah," the pavilion erupted, proving the timelessness of the 30-year-old song's tale of sex, rock 'n' roll and alienation. At the end, as he left the stage arm in arm with longtime keyboardist Mike Garson, fans pleaded for him to stay, and for Moby to not bother. Who could follow that?

Moby couldn't follow that, but it shouldn't take away from the quality of his set.

The manic little bald man bounced from one end of the stage to the other throughout his hour and a half of high-energy dance-punk fusion.

When his right-hand-lady, earthy gospel-soul mama Diane Charlemagne, sang, he lip-synched. Constantly, he pounded on his body or thrust his head or fist in the air in time with the complex beats. It looked as though the entire eight-member band's sound was coming from his body.

Moby's hits, like "Body Rock" from his breakthrough "Play" album and "Jam for the Ladies" from the new "18," got people dancing, though by the end of the eight-hour festival, the dancers were scarcer.

Fans certainly got their money's worth, as the entire day's performances were first-rate. Busta Rhymes goaded the late-afternoon audience into enjoying him; he even passed the Courvoisier among the crowd. The Blue Man Group was the obvious fan favorite of the openers. Underappreciated Irish rockers Ash started the show with some exuberant, unreconstructed punk rock.


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