What a cracking tour! Of course, I am speaking of The Earthling Tour from 1997 which began on May 17 in Dublin with the first of four warm ups shows at various venues before the tour kicked off on June 7 in Germany. Before winding up the tour in November, Bowie would play two consecutive nights in Boston beginning September 30. The second night was recorded live for a worldwide internet broadcast, one of the first of its kind. A year before, Bowie had been the first artist to release a song, Telling Lies, via the internet as a download only. He was certainly back in groundbreaking territory that’s for sure.
There is very little one can fault with this live webcast. The full show is captured and there were some fantastic renditions of old songs (think Waiting For The Man, The Jean Genie, My Death, Fame and so on) as well as some blistering new songs to throw out there. By the time of this Boston gig, Bowie and his band had been on the road on and off for over 2 full years and they were sounding incredibly tight. With the addition of Quicksand, V2 Schneider and Always Crashing In The Same Car to the set list, it gave Bowie the impetus to once more enjoy playing live and that’s another big selling point of this concert. No Changes, no Ziggy, no Rebel Rebel? No worries!
The highlight of the entire concert for me comes at the midway point with a blistering reworking of Panic In Detroit. You have to ask yourself how an already brilliant song can be improved in any way from its original format to sound even better? Well, it’s works a right treat on this tour. It’s just a shame Bowie didn’t stick to his original plan to split each show into two parts. One half drum’n’bass and the other half more conventional. It would have made the tour even more amazing than it already was. And that my friends, is saying something.
For a live webcast that was performed with the internet still in its infancy, the sound is quite impressive with only the slightest hint of tin and echo in the sound. The Sky Cries Mary and The Rolling Stones had both performed live concerts over the internet in 1994 but at the time, very few people had access to the shows. Odd ball rockers, Aerosmith would go one better than Bowie a year later by holding the first interactive webcast concert in October 1998. It would only be onwards and upwards for live acts from here.
Being one for constantly evolving, it was nice to see Bowie still kept a selection of songs from his 1. Outside album in the live set up. After all, it was his most adventurous studio offering since the first Tin Machine album some 6 years before and he was happily treading the water again. I’d love to see this Boston webcast cleaned up by Tony Visconti and released in an official capacity at some point down the track. Concerts like this are just too enjoyable and important to be left by the way side, festering and gathering dust. It’s partly why I write articles about these concert tapes. There is a whole world of live Bowie material to be unearthed so one can only hope there are many more live releases coming our way soon.
SET LIST: Quicksand/Queen Bitch/Always Crashing In The Same Car/Waiting For The Man/My Death/Outside/The Jean Genie/Panic In Detroit/I’m Afraid of Americans/The Voyeur of Utter Destruction/Seven Years In Tibet/The Last Thing You Should Do/Strangers When We Meet/Fashion/Band Introductions/Looking For Satellites/Under Pressure/Telling Lies/Hallo Spaceboy/Scary Monsters/Little Wonder/Is It Any Wonder?/Battle For Britain/V-2 Schneider/White Light White Heat/O Superman/Moonage Daydream