Watch David Bowie perform “Five Years” on his final tour


Nobody knew it at the time, but David Bowie’s 2003 album support tour Reality turned out to be the last concert tour of the legendary musician’s career. After recording and touring for nearly three decades in a row, Bowie took a hiatus, appearing only sporadically in guest spots over the next two years before retiring from the scene for good in 2006.

As was his style, Bowie walked out with a bang. At 112 shows, “A Reality Tour” turned out to be Bowie’s longest career getaway, including stops in Singapore, Australia and a number of Central European countries. Bowie has loaded the setlist of hits and hidden gems that have unfolded throughout his career, including reviving some of his most beloved songs he has collaborated on with other artists including his team Queen ‘Under. Pressure ‘, his Mott the Hoople track’ All the Young Dudes’ and his number Iggy Pop co-wrote ‘China Girl’.

One of the biggest surprises was Bowie’s willingness to incorporate a wide range of material from his recent past and legendary catalog. On the previous “Heathen Tour” Bowie kept his setlist relatively compact, with very few deviations and focusing mostly on his albums. Pagan and Moo. Some tours, like the “Sound + Vision Tour”, did not show any variation. But here Bowie and his band curated a loose roster of about 60 songs that would be dropped and shaken up with every new gig. Bowie would sometimes call out audibles, the result being a whole new concert experience every night.

One of his last shows of the tour, in Long Island, New York, is perhaps the best representation of his wide range. Beginning with the classic “Rebel Rebel”, mixes with different eras, moving from all-time greats like “Ashes to Ashes” and “Modern Love” to lesser-known tracks like Hunky-dory‘s’ Quicksand’, while incorporating new tracks like ‘New Killer Star’ and ‘The Loneliest Guy’.

During this particular concert, Bowie introduces a song saying, “This is very new to us. There are only a few gigs, so still heating up. With this, the group embarks on the glamorous overture of the guitar for Diamond dogs, the title song from Bowie’s 1974 LP of the same name. Bowie wasn’t lying: he had only introduced “Diamond Dogs” to the setlist a week before, and the performance at Wantagh was only the song’s fifth performance on tour. In the end, Bowie only performed the song nine times, making it the sixth least played original of the tour behind “Always Crashing in the Same Car,” “The Jean Genie” (seven times), “ Queen Bitch “(five times),” Space Oddity ‘(three times in full, although it was often teased or played in snippets throughout the tour) and’ The Bewlay Brothers’ (twice).

Subsequently, however, Bowie released an important addition to the tour: “Five Years,” the prophetic opening track from The rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust and the spiders of Mars. Once the opening drums begin, the whole crowd knows what’s to come, and the cheerful scream accompanied by the grim and catastrophic imagery of the song’s apocalyptic message makes for a fascinating group moment. So much sadness and destruction, but rendered so happily between Bowie and his audience. Although the setlist is fluid, “Five Years” was a common addition, appearing in about half of the shows on the tour.

Check out the images of “Diamond Dogs” and “Five Years” below.


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