As the Glastonbory festival was not on this year the BBC were broadcasting lots of previous performances over the weekend. One of those what David Bowie's headline set of 2000. At the time he only allowed part of it to be broadcast, but this was the whole thing. I have never been to Glastonbury, but we really enjoyed this show.
Despite missing that performance I did manage to see Bowie live several times. My better half has been to a lot more of his shows. Together we have been to various other shows and events related to him. We would not even be classed as superfans compared to some people who would follow his tours and may have even met him. We are just fans of his and other music. He was a major presence in British music for nearly 40 years and there can be few he did not touch in some way.
My first experience of live Bowie was in 1991 when we was playing with the Tin Machine project. I know a lot of critics did not like him doing that, but artists should do what they feel is right. I think they did some good songs. This was not too long after my wife to be and I got together. She wanted to go to the gig in Cambridge, but that meant going some weeks before to queue for tickets. So we drove to Cambridge to get there about 7am one weekend and found there was already a big queue around the Corn Exchange. Some hours later we got our tickets. The gig itself was really good. It is not a huge venue and we were down on the floor with a good view. I do not have any pictures of this or some of the other gigs as this was well before smartphones and cameras were discouraged at most gigs. The Setlist site has details of many gigs, including this one. There were none of his solo songs, but there were covers of other artists.
We also saw him perform the following year at the Freddie Mercury Tribute gig at Wembley Stadium as one of many artists. He did Under Pressure (with Annie Lennox) and Heroes. I have posted about that gig.
The first actual Bowie tour I was was for the Outside album in 1995. This show at Wembley Arena was a slightly odd one. Morrisey was the support when I think he has just issued his first solo album. He did not stay with the tour long as he did not get a great reception. The Bowie set was mostly from the new album, which is very high concept and not one of his best, but does have some cracking tunes. He did play some of the old hits, but less than on later tours.
Some of our tickets. I did not go to all these gigs, but my better half did.
A more intimate gig was for Earthling in 1997 at Shepherd's Bush Empire. It started with him playing Quicksand solo with just an acoustic guitar. There was more of a mix of hits, but I think Earthling is a good album. I remember being impressed by his drummer.
Some of our oldest friends are also big Bowie fans and we have been to several gigs together. One of those was when he curated the Meltdown Festival at the Royal Festival Hall in 2002. The support was The Dandy Warhols who had decided to play a strange set that did not go down well. It was all droning noise. I guess they were trying to be arty, but a lot of people walked out. Bowie played his Low album through. That is also arty, but at least has some tunes. He also played his latest album Heathen which I think I enjoyed more. The encore consisted of some hits, including Ziggy Stardust.
We saw his Reality tour with our friends in 2003 at Wembley Arena. Support was The Dandy Warhols again, but this time they played their hits and went down much better. Bowie was performing well and we got a good mix of new songs and classics.
That was to be the last time we saw him live. In 2004 he had a heart attack and rarely performed live after that. His last two albums, The Next Day and Blackstar did not have tours and he did not even do much publicity. He died just after Blackstar was released in January 2016.
A year after his death his pianist Mike Garson organised a concert at Brixton Academy that brought together many musicians who had played with him along with a lot of singers to perform his songs. On that day we went to a performance of the play Lazarus that was based on the character from The Man Who Fell To Earth and featured a number of Bowie songs. That was interesting. Then we went on to Brixton for the Celebration gig. That was quite emotional. Our daughter came along to that. She never got to see Bowie live, but was at the 1997 gig pre-birth.
The Celebration gigs have become an annual event and we have been each year since. One of those was in Berlin along with our friends. We spent a few days there. On the day of the gig we also toured Hansa Studios where he recorded several albums. The tour guide was Eduard Meyer who was engineer there at the time and so knew Bowie well.
Another person I met who knew Bowie was photographer Denis O'Regan who went on tour with him. We attended an exhibition of his photos. We could have bought prints, but they were really expensive.
As well as the Celebration gigs we have also attended two gigs by Holy Holy. This was formed by Tony Visconti and Woody Woodmansey who worked with Bowie a lot. They do a great show with Glenn Gregory on vocals. We have seen a couple of Bowie tribute acts who put on good shows.
In 2016 there was a performance during the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall dedicated to Bowie. This featured Amanda Palmer, Neil Hannon, Mark Almond and others with soem nice string arrangements. Yes, we were there.
As well as travelling to Berlin for a Celebration gig we also went with our friends to Groningen in the Netherlands to see the David Bowie Is exhibition, with our fellow fans. We managed to miss this when it was in London, but after he died we really wanted to see it. It was really good with lots of costumes, instruments, handwritten lyrics and other memorabilia. It was really well done with headphones to give you a soundtrack as you walked through it.
David Bowie has meant a lot to us, but I do not think we would class as obsessive. We are just fans who have got a lot of pleasure from his work and have been lucky to experience so much of it.