Stub Heaven: The Review And The Stub To Prove It: David Bowie

Written by | September 26, 2017 4:43 am | No Comments


I’ve seen David Bowie more than three times live on stage, closer to six I believe, though it might be ten, somewhere in the middle. The earliest being actually quite late in the game: May 1978 on the Isolar II tour. That was also the first time I ever went to my home away from home, Madison Square Garden. My second trip ever to the States, and a year before I immigrated to New York City for good, tangled up in Bowie AGAIN! The only rock star who survived my first knee deep in the swamp punk rock CBGB’s age. That means I missed the Ziggy and the Diamond Dogs tours. I was a little young and he wasn’t playing Baalbeck.

No proof for those, but above you will find proof of three shows.

David Bowie, Roseland, Saturday, September 14th, 1996

David Bowie A Birthday Celebration – Madison Square Garden – Thursday, January 9th, 1997

David Bowie A Reality Tour – Madison Square Garden – Monday, December 15th, 2003

The 78 gig I had nosebleeds and I snuck down to the front, a terrific set and I was completely in awe. So funny, when I bought the ticket it said section 400 and I thought it meant 4th rpw. I ended up sneaking very very close.

The Glass Spiders tour I hated, one of two times I saw him at Giants Stadium.  I reviewed it for Creem and dismissed him as a has been. Which he was at the time, of course. I remember seeing the Serious Moonlight tour, but it is a little fuzzy , maybe not. Maybe…

The Roseland gig I’ve written about many times, me and my friend Robert Nevin stood in line ten hours and got front of stage for one of the greatest performances I have ever seen. Here is the setlist, not as good as I remember:

  1. Look Back In Anger
  2. Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)
  3. The Hearts Filthy Lesson
  4. Outside
  5. Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)
  6. The Voyeur of Utter Destruction (As Beauty)
  7. Breaking Glass
  8. The Man Who Sold the World
  9. Hallo Spaceboy
  10. Baby Universal (Tin Machine song)
  11. Jump They Say
  12. Under Pressure (Queen cover)
  13. “Heroes”


  1. Strangers When We Meet
  2. Little Wonder
  3. All the Young Dudes

Encore 2:

  1. Seven Years in Tibet
  2. White Light/White Heat (The Velvet Underground cover)
  3. Moonage Daydream

Neil Strauss wrote this is in the New York Times: “If Saturday night’s concert was any indication, however, Mr. Bowie has rediscovered a way to reconcile his creativity with accessibility. The two-hour concert, which far outshone his recent arena tour with Nine Inch Nails, was a way for him to take a break from working on his new album.” I saw the Nine Inch Nails tour as well so I guess that makes eight times. Seeing Bowie so close, so Bowieish, a great experience.

Grade: A+

The next time I saw him was the 50th birthday gig and it really was disappointing. Sitting around waiting for Billy Corgan. Fuck that. Plus the seats were lousy and except for Lou reed, everybody was off their tuck. According to MSG’s website “David Bowie celebrated his 50th Birthday in style at Madison Square Garden on January 7, 1997, performing songs from his extensive catalog. Artists like Frank Black of the Pixies, the Foo Fighters, The Cure’s Robert Smith, The Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan and members of Sonic Youth all turned out to pay tribute to Bowie and perform with their hero. Friend and longtime accomplice Lou Reed even teamed up with Bowie for a pair of Velvet Underground songs to close out this memorable and charitable night. Proceeds from this sold out concert went to befit Save the Children.” This may well have begun my well documented distaste for the Foo Fighters. I saw em open for the Stones and Hole around the same time and became thoroughly sick of the bastards.

Grade: B-

Finally, the final time I saw Bowie… the Reality tour I went with my girlfriend at the time and we were both drunk and both coked up and quarrelling and broke up maybe a month later. Bowie was in excellent spirits, very good natured, and listening to the live album as I write, the setlist was excellent and his performances were great. That was December 2003, six months later he had a heartattack after a show in Switzerland and that was that.

Grade: A-


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *