Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Bowie at the Tower

hey dudes


If you go and give the current album chart a look, you see that a month and a bit after his passing the people who buy music are still very much discovering or rediscovering the works of Bowie. Sure, now it would seem that it’s two greatest hits sets and Blackstar in the top ten, but Hunky Dory is still lurking around.



This is the perfect excuse for writing some more about Bowie, although I have never particularly needed an excuse to do this, so prone am I towards doing this randomly. In celebration of this random way, then, let us look randomly at what Bowie was up to 43 years ago today.

18th February 1973 was something of a pivotal day in world music. The King, Elvis Presley, as I have written about here somewhere on my blog, punched a stage invader – hopefully square in the face – on this date. Truly, with all which has passed, it is remarkable to think it was merely 3 years ago that we celebrated the 40th anniversary, or if you like 40th birthday, of that class event. It’s also worth noting that on this day Genesis performed in Birmingham as part of their Foxtrot tour. Bowie, meanwhile, gave not one, not three but two performances of the “Ziggy Stardust” tour at The Tower, Philadelphia.


I know, I know. Most Bowie enthusiasts would not associate Bowie and The Tower, Philadelphia with 18 February 1973. For most thoughts are drawn to July 1974, for it was then at that venue when David Live was recorded, with no less than Elizabeth Taylor in the audience. David Live was, of course, strangely the first ever official live Bowie record one could buy, with the earlier recorded Santa Monica 72 and Hammersmith Odeon gigs only being officially released many years later.

Was there anything significant or of special consequence about the two shows Bowie played at The Tower on 18 Feb 1973? I would really suggest that any Bowie gig is one of significance and consequence, really. These two shows did sound rather boss, however. Here you go, here are the words of Chuck Darrow on the gigs :

For the two shows I saw at the Tower in February 1973, he did the "Hang Onto Yourself" opening and it was truly a religious experience. The way Mick and Trevor looked in the flashing strobe lights as they stood statute-still, and Bowie's Japanese space suit. Then they slammed into "Hang Onto Yourself",wow!! It's pretty much the most thrilling moment I have ever had at a concert. The second would have to be the jam in the middle of "Width of a Circle," when Mick and Trevor (with the strobes flashing again), faced each other at center stage and slowly rocked back and forth as they both kept riffing higher and higher on the necks of their axes.




Sounds like a pretty awesome show to have just been able to see once, really – nice one for Chuck, and no doubt a few others, that he got to see it twice.

In certain respects the 18 February 1973 shows reflect a coming to fruition of Bowie’s increasing aspirations to a flourishing, more expansive sound on stage. On top of the classic “Spiders” line up of Bowie, Ronson, Bolder and Woodmansey, by this stage there were several other musicians performing with them. The most notable additions by this stage were Mike Garson playing anything required that had keys,Geoff MacCormack adding backing vocals and extra percussion and, perhaps most tellingly, Ken Fordham and Brian Wilshaw adding saxophone, with the latter also playing flute when required. Saxophone would of course, within a few years of these gigs, be a big part of Bowie’s sound, in particular on the Young Americans album.

Weirdly, Young Americans is an album i have never taken a shine to. it did, though, lead to the Station To Station album, which was, if push came to shove, the one I would say was my all time favourite Bowie album of all time. And yes, I am mentioning this mostly just so I can wrap some text around a newspaper cutting picture, purely for the benefit of this looking if not decent and smart then sort of OK for those of you reading this on a computer type device.



Sadly no recordings, either official or bootleg in nature, have ever emerged from either of these shows at the Tower in Philadelphia on 18 February 1973. You would think that if they haven’t by now then they never will, but you just don’t know what tapes some people are sat on. Whilst there’s no confirmed setlist from either show, there’s general agreement that sets on this tour rarely varied from what you would find on either Santa Monica 72 or Ziggy Stardust The Motion Picture. Both are well worth getting and having a listen to, at the correct volume of course.




Well, there we have it. Whilst everyone except Scottish Nationalists (“glad that the tax dodging unionist **** is dead” was one of the more diplomatic statements from them) remains sad that Bowie is with us in person no more, as the above kind of tries to show he is very much a presence in memories. There are acres of days from years that one could pick and find an interesting Bowie story from; I just felt like going for this one for no particular reason.

Thank you, as ever, for reading. all pictures used here are taken from sites made by fellow fans, i trust you don't mind. well, if you do leave a message and i will take them down, i suppose.



be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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