I read somewhere — perhaps it was on Wikipedia — that the best-ever version of Heroes, at least according to one commentator, was the one Bowie sang at Live Aid in 1985. I need to see the best of the best when it comes to this song. I need convincing Heroes has worth for sheer enjoyment and not simply technical brilliance, or innovation during production.
The Live Aid version is, to say the least, pumped up. It’s as if Bowie told the band — Thomas Dolby among them — that they should speed up the phrasing and give it a beat. The dancers really hit their stride here, and even the shirtless guy on percussion wouldn’t have looked out of place at the time.
Bowie is showcasing his definitive 80s look, style, dancing and banter here — this may not have been a character in the vein of Ziggy or The Thin White Duke, but it certainly seems like an attempt to step out of who he once was, or who he purported to be (“Remember how scary I was in the mid-70s? Not anymore! I’m a nice guy…”).
But it was the 80s. There was little authenticity to the 80s. It was like, say, the years between 2000 and 2013.
But I digress.
As a Canadian, I am thrilled that Bowie ends this performance by asking people to send money (the song during this rendition was dedicated to the “children of the world,” and was of course intended to raise money for famine relief) and then throwing it to a clip produced by the CBC.