It promised to be a spectacle and it was. In fact, everything about David Bowie's Glass Spider Tour, which arrived at Capital Centre last night, was eye-poppingly extravagant. It was hard to believe that this was indeed the scaled-down version of the stadium-sized production Bowie launched a couple of months back.
For starters, there was the Glass Spider. A huge, luminous creature, it hovered over the stage for the entire show, as if benignly monitoring the action below. But the spider played a more important role. Out of its belly popped the star, who descended to the stage with a grace that characterized his entire performance.
Unfortunately, not everything moved so smoothly. The staging offered almost as much clutter as dazzle. Dancers swarmed, video images were jump-cut on three screens, costume changes abounded. Clearly this was a grandiose throwback to Bowie's more theatrical days, but the show lacked any real drama and occasionally bordered on the ponderous.
Throughout it all, though, Bowie was fascinating. Now 40, he's still a riveting performer, and his voice has never sounded better. Backed by a solid six-piece band featuring guitarists Peter Frampton and Carlos Alomar, he opened with some new tunes before moving deeper into the heart of his repertoire.
If Bowie passed over some obvious choices -- "Suffragette City," for one -- he made up for it by either improving upon songs such as "China Girl" (with considerable help from Frampton) or recalling some worthy but relatively obscure tunes from the past. Not only was his pacing masterful, peaking with exhilarating versions of "Rebel Rebel," "Young Americans" and "Let's Dance," but he proved to be remarkably limber as well during several kinetic dance sequences.
In the end, you had to hand it to him. He delivered on his promise, even if it was a bit much. The show will be repeated tonight.