Live Aid Wembley Stadium 13th July 1985
I went with a couple of mates. We missed out on tickets when they went on sale and the only way we could get there was to buy tickets for a coach trip from Middlesbrough. So we were up at 4am, drove to Middlesbrough and joined a coach which left at 5am for London. We arrived well before noon, had a couple of drinks and entered the stadium, which was of course completely packed so we found a spot in the stands right at the back. A few minutes later Status Quo took to the stage with “Rockin’ All Over The World” and the day started. This was Quo reunited one year after the split, with Alan flying over from Oz to join Francis and Rick. Their short set also featured Caroline” and “Don’t Waste My Time”. A fitting start to the day. I have so many great memories of that day.
Queen’s performance is, of course, often rated as the greatest live performance by any band. Freddie certainly commanded the crowd the day and it propelled them to super stardom. Their well planned set was a medley with short sections of their anthems: “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Radio Ga Ga”, “Hammer To Fall”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions”. They had apparently been rehearsing their short set for days, to ensure perfection, and it showed, and worked. U2 weren’t far behind them, though, in terms of performance, with Bono showing how great a front man he was. U2 played two songs: “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and a lengthy version of “Bad” during which Bono dragged a girl from the rush down front to dance with him on stage, and which also included snippets from Lou Reed’s “Satellite of love” and “Walk On The Wild Side”, and The Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday” and “Sympathy for the Devil”. Electric.
For me, however. the highlights were The Who and David Bowie, as I was, and remain, a big fan of both acts. Bowie started with “TVC15” (a strange and poor choice I felt, and remember being disappointed on the day), “Rebel Rebel” (great, good choice), “Modern Love” (well, ok) and then “Heroes” (we all sag along and it was pure magic). I still feel that with a better choice of songs Bowie could have eclipsed Queen and U2.
The Who performed “My Generation”, “Pinball Wizard”, “Love Reign O’er Me” (another strange song choice given the magnitude of the event) and a blistering “Won’t Get Fooled Again” with much mike swinging by Daltrey and lots of arm twirling by Townshend.
Other memories: Elton and Kiki sang “Don’t go Breaking my Heart” (great!). Paul McCartney suffered from sound problems and we couldn’t hear him at all for much of “Let It Be” although I gather it was fine on TV. Geldof drew massive cheers every time he set foot on stage, and he deserved every one of them. The scheduling worked amazingly, with very few hitches. Seeing the cameras pick out Charles and Diana over in their enclosure. The amazingly camp Bowie and Jagger video. The awful, sad and moving video of starving children played to the Cars’ “Drive”. Phil Collins playing Wembley and JFK courtesy of Concorde (show off).
But the truly unforgettable moment came at the end, and will stay in my mind for ever. That was the finale, with the entire stadium singing along to “Do They Know It’s Christmas ?” with Bob Geldof leading us, and everyone else on stage. I’ve never seen, felt, or heard anything like it before or since. We walked out of that stadium to the coach park, all of us still singing…..”Feed The World”…..
Then it was a long coach ride back to Middlesbrough. We arrived back around 5 or 6am, then drove home. 24 hours with hardly any sleep, just an hour or so caught on the bus, but a day I will remember forever.
Line-up: Status Quo; The Style Council; The Boomtown Rats; Adam Ant; Ultravox; Spandau Ballet; Elvis Costello; Nik Kershaw; Sade; Sting; Phil Collins; Howard Jones; Bryan Ferry (with David Gilmour on guitar); Paul Young/Alison Moyet; U2; Dire Straits/Sting; Queen; Video “Dancing in the Streets” by David Bowie/Mick Jagger; David Bowie; The Who; Elton John (Kiki Dee and George Michael join Elton); Mercury and May; Paul McCartney; Finale
Archive for the ‘David Bowie’ Category
Live Aid Wembley Stadium 13th July 1985
David Bowie Exhibition Victoria and Albert museum London July 28th 2013
Marie, Laura and I travelled to London on Sunday. We were meeting up with David and Shona to go the “David Bowie Is” exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum. We’ve all read a lot about the exhibition and we are quite excited about it going to see it. It sold out quickly and by the time we got around to booking all that remained were tickets for evening shows, which had been added to satisfy the incredible demand. So we booked tickets for this Sunday evening. It seems ages ago since we bought the tickets.
From the V&A site: “23 March – 11 August 2013. The V&A has been given unprecedented access to the David Bowie Archive to curate the first international retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie. David Bowie is features more than 300 objects that include handwritten lyrics, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, music videos, set designs and Bowie’s own instruments.”
Just got home. We really enjoyed the exhibition. I typed up some comments on my iPad on the train: The exhibition takes you from Bowie’s early days in London through to the present day. On show are exhibits from Bowie’s own collection, including hand written lyrics, and stage costumes alongside original album sleeve art work and period artefacts such as space toys, concert posters and musical instruments (a stylaphone and a saxophone). On arrival we were each given a headset to where, which played a selection of David Bowie tracks as we moved through the exhibition space, the tracks relating to each period as we came to it. It was fascinating to see hand written lyrics for Starman and Heroes and the early synth tat Brian Eno played on the latter song. Also on show are exhibits relating to Bowie’s influences, including posters for Warhol events, and the musical Cabaret. As you make your way through the space, the many faces and persona of the man are revealed. The costumes alone are worth the price of admission, ranging from the early Ziggy cat suits, through the stark black suit and white shirt of the Thin White Duke to the extravagant costume influenced by Bowie’s role in Labyrith. Of particular interest to me (and items I would love to own) are an original poster from the Ziggy era (it took me right back; I can remember the same poster on display around Newcastle at the tie the Ziggy tour called at the City Hall), a programme for the 1969 tour where Bowie supported Humble Pie, and a poster for a gig at the Festival Hall where he shared a bill with Tyrannosaurus Rex and Roy Harper ( and DJ John Peel). Now those were the days!
We called into the shop on the way out, buying a poster and a badge, while resisting the rather expensive hard back book (I am regretting doing so already, and may yet buy a copy online 🙂 ). Laura bought a poster, some postcards and a Ziggy plectrum.
David Bowie Reality Tour Dublin The Point 22 November 2003
Support Act The Dandy Warhols By 2003, I was desperate to see David Bowie again. I’d forgotten my disappointment of Tin Machine and realised the stature of Bowie in the formation of rock. So when he announced the Reality tour, I was determined to see him. Marie and I decided we would have a weekend in Dublin, and take in his show at The Point. I booked a hotel room on O’Connell Street, and booked flights and we all set. Our trip to Dublin wasn’t without incident. When we arrived at the desk at Newcastle airport, we discovered that Marie’s passport had run out, and we couldn’t check in. So we dashed home to pick up her driving licence, which we were assured would be ok to check us onto the flight, and arrived back just in time, heavily stressed. We were straight onto the flight, and arrived in Dublin safely soon after. The gig was great, Bowie was on top form, one of the best times I’ve seen him. Marie even enjoyed it so he must have been good! The set drew from his extensive back catalogue. Setlist: Rebel Rebel; New Killer Star; Reality; Fame; Cactus; Afraid; All the Young Dudes; China Girl; The Loneliest Guy; The Man Who Sold the World; Hallo Spaceboy; Sunday; Under Pressure; Life on Mars; Battle for Britain; Ashes to Ashes; The Motel; Loving the Alien; Never Get Old; Changes; I’m Afraid of Americans; Heroes; Encores: Bring Me the Disco King; Slip Away; Heathen; Five Years;Hang On to Yourself; Ziggy Stardust
David Bowie Roker Park Glass Spider Tour 23 June 1987
Support Acts: Big Country
“Good evening Newcastle”, said David Bowie as he took the stage at this gig. Big mistake for a gig in Sunderland; rivalry between the two towns run deep, particularly in the context of football, and saying this in Roker Park, the home of Sunderland football, was not a good idea. It was to be an omen for the rest of the gig, which wasn’t one of Bowie’s best. In theory, this should have been a great gig. Bowie has a great band, with Peter Frampton coming in on guitar. He had promised that this tour would see a return to theatricals of the scale of the US Diamond Dogs tour. There was great anticipation for the gigs, which ultimately played to 3m people, exceeding the Serious Moonlight tour.
The day was wet, as I recall, and Big Country went down a storm, perhaps better than Bowie. Bowie’s setlist focussed on his more recent catalogue, and particularly his latest lp Never Let Me Down, ignoring the Ziggy era. The stage set was Ok, but somewhat silly, and personally I didn’t think it was as impressive as promised. At one point Bowie came down from the stage on a swing, and the spider just looked strange (but was it a forerunner of the recent U2 stage set up?). The programme for the gig (shown left) was obviously produced for the word tour, with lots of glossy photos of David, and nothing about the support acts; there was also an edition of the Sunderland Echo produced specially for the event (see below).
Setlist: Up the Hill Backwards; Glass Spider; Day-In Day-Out; Bang Bang; Absolute Beginners; Loving the Alien; China Girl; Fashion; Scary Monsters; All the Madmen; Never Let Me Down; Big Brother; ’87 and Cry; Heroes; Time Will Crawl; Beat Of Your Drum; Sons of the Silent Age; Dancing With the Big Boys; Zeroes; Let’s Dance; Fame; Encore: Blue Jean; Modern Love. Towards the end of the gig Bowie said: “I’m glad the rain has kept off”. It then poured down during the encore. Not a good day; I was slowly losing faith in Bowie, and I was to suffer further disappointment at a Tin Machine gig a few years later (see my blog of a few days ago). Tomorrow I’ll report on The Reality tour which I caught in Dublin in 2003, and which restored my faith in Bowie.
David Bowie 2nd July 1983 Milton Keynes Bowl Serious Moonlight
Support Acts: The Beat, Icehouse
By 1983 David Bowie was of sufficient stature to play three nights at the Milton Keynes Bowl, which holds 65,000 people. The (quite colourful) ticket (see right) doesn’t tell me which day I attended, but I am pretty certain it was the Saturday, which was the second of the three gigs. My mate and I drove to Milton Keynes, which is around a 450 mile round trip. I’d been having problems with one of the brakes on my car, and unfortunately it just about locked after after around 100 miles, to the extent that I could only drive very slowly, leaving us stranded near the Wetherby roundabout. I phoned the AA who came out but could fix the car at the road side, so they told me to leave the car in a local car park, hide the keys in an agreed spot (!) and that they would come and pick it up and take it home for me. We were determined to get to the gig, so I phoned my dad, who drove down, picked us up an hour or so later and drove us to the Bowl.
I remember the day as being red hot; I recall little about the support acts, other than they were not that impressive. This was, in my view, not one of Bowie’s best performances. Bowie’s approach to the songs, and the band set up, was moving him away from being a rock star to becoming an all round singer/entertainer and broaden his audience. This worked in terms of making his music more accessible to a general audience, but lost something else along the way.
Although I enjoyed the show, I felt I’d lost the David Bowie I’d grown to love over the past 10 years. Don’t get me wrong; you couldn’t fault anything: the stage set, the performance, the band were all great. But it was David Bowie becoming an entertainer, a professional, (re)becoming Anthony Newley in terms of aiming for broad appeal; and Ziggy had become a memory. Although general consensus is that this was a great gig, I left somewhat disappointed, feeling let down. Two years later I saw Bowie in Wembley Stadium at Live Aid, and he was great again. However, there were further disappointments to come in the form of the 1987 Glass Spider tour (which I will comment on tomorrow) and Tin Machine (see my blog the other day).
After the gig we managed to find my dad who had been waiting in a local pub, having a pie and a coffee, and he drove us home. We must have got back around 4am, I would guess. The next morning my car was delivered to our house (thank you AA); I took it to the garage the next day to be repaired.
Setlist: Star; Heroes; What in the World; Golden Years; Fashion; Let’s Dance; Breaking Glass; Life on Mars?; Sorrow; Cat People; China Girl; Scary Monsters; Rebel Rebel; White Light/White Heat; Station to Station; Cracked Actor; Ashes to Ashes; Space Oddity; Young Americans; TVC15; Fame; Stay; The Jean Genie; Modern Love
David Bowie Friday Newcastle City Hall 16th June 1978
There was great anticipation for the 1978 David Bowie tour. By 1978 he was a massive star across the world, and this time he played three nights at the City Hall, which was almost unheard of; I can’t remember anyone else playing three nights in the 70s. Tickets were available by post, so several of us applied for more than one night, as I recall. I managed to get tickets for a couple of nights. I passed one pair of tickets on to some friends and kept the tickets for the Friday, which was the last of the three nights. In hindsight I wish I’d gone for more than one night. Tickets were getting expensive by now, with best seats costing £6 which was quite a bit more than the 40p I have paid to see Bowie at the City Hall 6 years earlier.
This was one of the best Bowie gigs that I have attended. The set covered much of his by now classic back catalogue, the band was tight, and Bowie’s performance was superb. The show was in two sets, with no support act, as far as I recall. The first set consisted of songs from Low and Heroes which were Bowie’s most recent albums. I had the Low lp and had played and played it, so I was well versed in the tracks from that album. The second set consisted largely of songs from Ziggy and Station to Station. The programme (left and below) continued to follow the ISOLAR theme.
Setlist: Warszawa; “Heroes”; What in the World; Be My Wife; The Jean Genie; Blackout; Sense of Doubt; Speed of Life; Breaking Glass; Fame; Beauty and the Beast; Five Years; Soul Love; Star; Hang On to Yourself; Ziggy Stardust; Suffragette City; Art Decade; Alabama Song; Station to Station; Stay; Rebel Rebel. What I would give to relive a gig such as this, or to see Bowie on stage again, singing Five Years. Great days. Tomorrow I’ll try to remember Bowie’s Milton Keynes show, as part of the Serious Moonlight tour.
David Bowie Tin Machine Newcastle Mayfair Tuesday 5 November 1991
For my concert memory today I’m jumping ahead a few Bowie concerts to the Tin Machine era.
When I heard that David Bowie was coming to Newcastle Mayfair with his new band Tin Machine, I couldn’t believe it. Yes Bowie was stressing that “Tin Machine are a band” and that this was a new project, but hey come on, this was David Bowie coming to the Mayfair Ballroon, which he hadn’t played since the early 70s and pre-Hunky Dory days. The tickets went on sale on a Saturday morning, so I went through early to queue. I got there an hour or so before the box office opened and to my surprise there was hardly anyone there. So I joined the small queue and got my tickets without any problems at all. My daughter Ashleigh came along to the show with me. I hadn’t had the chance to hear the Tin Machine album, so didn’t know any of the songs (which was a mistake). I was hoping that Bowie would through in some classics, but suspected that he might not, and indeed it wasn’t to be. The place was full, and the set was all new Tin Machine stuff, and was thus totally unfamiliar to me. It was great to see David Bowie close up again in a small venue, but to be honest I found the songs weak, wasn’t impressed and we left before the end of the gig. This experience put me off seeing Bowie again for some time, and I missed the next couple of tours out (big mistake). On reflection, like many others I didn’t give Tin Machine a real chance. I had a fixed model in my mind of what David Bowie should be, and Tin Machine was just too much of a departure from his past. I should have gone to that gig with a more opne mind. Setlist was something like: I’ve Been Waiting For You; Goodbye Mr. Ed; Bus Stop; Under The God; A Big Hurt; Shopping for Girls; Stateside; I Can’t Read; Baby Universal; Sacrifice Yourself; Betty Wrong; You Can’t Talk; Go Now; Debaser; If There Is Something; Heaven’s In Here; You Belong in Rock & Roll; Crack City. Tomorrow I’ll go back again to the late 70s and the Low tour which came to Newcastle City Hall in 1978.