Ouvrez Le Chien: David Bowie live ’95 review by Carlton P. Sandercock

Here’s something we haven’t done before. Newly discovered in the vault marked ‘Crankin’ Out unused articles’, this was a guest review of a 1995 concert at Exeter Westpoint (basically a cow shed, smells ‘n’ all) submitted to the Bowie magazine I published in the ’90s by Carlton Sandercock, then head honcho at Trident Music International.

Trident was the London based independent label that had a brief relationship with The Dame’s old management Mainman ostensibly to plunder their archive. It seems kinda serendipitous to have found this three-page A4 document out of the blue just as Ouvrez Le Chien is released to streaming sites the doggone world over. More on that album in the footnote at the bottom but for now over to Sandercock.

db “something in our skies” Exeter Westpoint Sunday 26th Nov 1995
OPENTHEDOGOPENTHEDOGOPENT

In the week leading up to this show the British press had enjoyed giving David Bowie a good kicking with ‘alleged’ reports of many fans leaving mid set at Wembley due to the fact that Bowie had not performed a ‘hits’ package. Anyone who knows anything about Bowie would be reminded that the less than exciting Sound + Vision tour of 1990 put to bed all those ‘hits’ being trotted out for the final time. Not to say that the songs were bad but I feel that many Bowie fans had heard enough of Space Oddity, Fame and TVC 15 and I’m sure Bowie must have tired of singing them.

I was greatly excited about seeing a Bowie show that was not reliant upon the usual hits but built around the brilliant new album Outside. The set for tonight consisted of strips of old canvas hanging down at the rear of the stage with some rather strange statues littered around and two large signs one saying “ouvre le Chien” and the other saying “open the dog”! We know what it translates to but why??

Photo by Ilpo Musto/Shutterstock

Outside comes over very powerful but not nearly as powerful as the first single Hearts Filthy Lesson which blew me bollocks off, respect to bassist Gail Ann Dorsey and drummer Zachary Alford. The new improved Andy Warhol was a treat with small strip lighting reminiscent of the ’78 tour being lowered to just above Bowie’s head.

Also new and improved was The Man Who Sold The World which can be heard on the latest single Strangers When We Meet which unfortunately did not come across as memorable as it could have. A Small Plot Of Land and I Have Not Been To Oxford Town (…..All’s well) followed with We Prick You were met with a mixture of excitement by the loyal following and “….err what the fuck?” by the Let’s Dance Bowie followers.

Then Boys Keep Swinging brought most round, curious choice though. The Lodger connection continued with DJ and Look Back In Anger the current band line up giving the songs a breath of fresh air. Next up was a bit of a shocker My Death with Carlos Alomar (nice to see you back mate!) on acoustic guitar, not too sure if the arrangement was right after having the ‘Ziggy’ version firmly implanted in mind if not the Brel original, make your own mind up.

Scary Monsters was a definite crowd pleaser followed by Jump They Say and the melodic Nightflight [sic] but one of the treats of the night was without shadow of a doubt Teenage Wildlife utterly brilliant if not a tad over sung at the close. Reeves Gabrels it has to be said needs to be less self indulgent if he is not going to piss off half the audience except the Fripp fans of course.

Next up was another surprise ..sort of, the greatest hits fans loved this from the first chord and I must admit I have never heard a decent live version of Under Pressure by either Queen or Bowie but with the help of the very talented Gail Ann Dorsey on (Freddie) vocals tonight’s version was indeed brilliant. One of the most powerful of tonight’s presentations nearly blew half the audience from the front of the stage area Hallo Spaceboy with Alomar filling in with ‘that’ riff, this is probably the track that finished off the lightweights at Wembley.

There was no encore but we were left with a bit of a treat. When the first chords of Moonage Daydream boomed out of the stacks my immediate thought was “ohh noo Gabrels is gonna kill it with his fuckin’ twiddly guitar stuff, oh the memory of the great ‘Ronson’. BUT he kicked in and did not let the side down, credit where its due.

To sum up, this is one of the best Bowie shows I’ve seen and I’ve seen quite a few, from the mid seventies on.

The band are*:

Guitar: Carlos Alomar: verdict, it felt good to see him back but stayed pretty much in the back line.

Bass: Gail Ann Dorsey: verdict. Fuckin’ awesome especially on the new stuff excellent vocals tool

Keyboards: Mike Garson: verdict. I want to have this guy’s babies, essential band member, crap hat.

Drums: Zachary Alford: verdict. Don’t know much about him but was definitely ‘there’ when needed. respect!

Guitar: Reeves Gabrels: verdict. Obviously Bowie’s chum, I find his guitar style too self indulgent, go and play jazz. However redeemed himself on a Bowie classic but no one will ever replace Ronson!!!

Vocals: George Simms and David Bowie: verdict. Simms was a stable mainstay throughout and Mr Bowie was definitely NOT playing safe.

It must be quite difficult to sum up the Bowie audience on this tour as many were picked up during the ‘safe’ period but this is what real Bowie fans got into his music for), it is not commercial, it is on the edge the way we like it.

DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW!!

Cariton P. Sandercock @95

BONUS BEATS: Released last week, Ouvrez Le Chien (Live Dallas 95) is a timely new streaming album from a soundboard recording of a show on the early American leg of the Outside tour that omits the ‘segueway’ section Bowie performed with easier to acquiesce noise merchants Nine Inch Nails. It’s appended with a pair of bonus tracks originally found on the Pet Shop Boys Hallo Spaceboy team-up 45, recorded in Birmingham, England after Morrissey had done a runner. Though it does beg the question why not just release the Brum show?

The convoluted explanation of the album’s title doesn’t seem to be written by someone who understands basic French either. English doesn’t differentiate between singular and plural in the second person but most languages do and therefore if you ask one person to open a dog you say “ouvre le chien”, and if you ask more than one person (or you use the polite form) you say “ouvrez le chien”. The Z is not a semi random addition as these illiterates seem keen to imply.

Steve Pafford 

*UPDATE: Peter Schwartz posted on Facebook that “missing from the band credits in the article is myself.” I’m delighted to add that not only was he on synthesizer but Peter was also the Outside tour musical director

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