Newcastle Mayfair, November 5 1991. i was there!
of all the underappreciated, unfairly lashed things in the world of music, Bowie's Tin Machine project is one which surely has had criminal neglect and scorn thrown at it. not only was the debut album from the band one of Bowie's all time best sellers, but the sound of it - a quasi-rock & metal affair - was somewhat influential, for the Seattle "grunge" bands who came along a few years later didn't sound too different from them. the second album they released was a confident, quality rock album with just about every track being a great cut, but by the time it was released the music press had decided they didn't like the band or Bowie pretty much, so it never really stood much of a chance.
a considerable bonus for us Bowie fans was the "low key" nature Bowie wanted for tours. venues were clubs or halls - a far cry from the theatrics of his Glass Spider and SoundAndVision tours, which dominated and filled stadium after stadium. if you rather enjoyed the music that listened to the negative press, you could get a ticket and go and see Bowie with a crowd of no more than a couple of hundred other people, and see Bowie live, up close and personal, in a way that would usually have been unthinkable.
i was delighted to be one of the sensible ones to get tickets for the tour!
memories of the evening? well, i certainly bought (and still own) one of the "controversial" tour shirts. Bowie's response to the criticism of the band was to have the tour t-shirts read "F*** You I Love Tin Machine", whereas Bowie himself for the encores wore one reading "F*** You I'm IN Tin Machine". i do recall being wildly ecstatic and in simple awe when the great man took to the stage. i mean, this was David Bowie, and there i was in a crowd that was in touching distance of him!
beside Bowie was one of the finest, gifted bands you'd ever wish to see. to suggest Tin Machine was ever just a "side project" for Bowie is an insult to the three great musicians he recruited and performed with. The Sales brothers, who came to the band with a solid reputation from the USA Rock scene, are an incredible percussion unit. credit indeed to brother Hunt, the drummer who often stole the show with his powerful lead vocals on a couple of tracks. Reeves Gabrels, something of an unknown quantity prior to Tin Machine, is just simply excellent - even beyond his rather imaginative use of (ahem) "lady private massage devices" to get curious squeals from his guitars.
the set-list is somewhat lost in time, although i do recall the only real disappointment i had was that they didn't play the song Tin Machine itself, one of my all time favourites. never mind, for the rest of the stuff was all great, in particular the performance of Heaven's In Here. during this song on the night Bowie paused and asked what felt like me directly "do you smoke after sex?". none of your business, Dave! on top of that, there was a rousing performance of the short but brilliant Bus Stop, a powerhouse vocal from Bowie on Amazing, and, well, just an evening full of amazing songs!
an abiding memory too would be two chums stood near me at the gig. for some reason they were convinced that the next song would be either Aladdin Sane or Ziggy Stardust. sorry, chaps! the tickets said Tin Machine, did they not?
as for the person i went with, well, Sarah, if by some quirk of fate you are reading this, hope you have some fond memories!
if chance permits, do have a listen to the Tin Machine music, in particular the Tin Machine II album!
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!