It’s been a couple of weeks since I have delivered a concert tape file and thought I should get cracking again but which show to review is the question? With a hard drive containing hundreds of shows, it’s always a difficult task single out particular concerts as Bowie has a plethora of high quality audience and soundboard recordings from almost all his tours to choose from. So, I decided to go for a most energetic and raw recording that was captured in Detroit, Michigan on June 22 1974. This was the first of two consecutive nights in Detroit and was only the 7th performance of the entire tour. Bowie would return here for 6 nights in the middle of October as part of the “Philly Dogs” tour which it had become known as by then due to David’s wandering into what he would call “plastic soul”.
Now, the best thing about early shows on Bowie tours is that he is always finding his feet over the opening two weeks or so and you can very much tell that he is enjoying performing each song with great vigour. As far as audience recordings go, this is definitely one of the high end recordings in terms of quality. Captured from what feels like a good spot in the central part of the audience, there is little crowd chat overheard. Some fans who were at these shows have told me that, from their memories, everyone was too blown away by just how jaw dropping the shows were due to their highly elaborate theatricality, the sleek set design and those who turned up expecting more Ziggy, instead, getting a whole new revue all together.
This was the tour where Bowie cemented his position in rock royalty. He was an A-list draw card with the likes of Michael Jackson, Cher, Bette Midler, Sean Connery, Elizabeth Taylor and many other big names wanting to be on the guest list. With Bowie’s stellar performance during this show, you get the feeling that he knows he’s hit the big time and is playing up to it on every level.
I’m listening to this recording as we speak through my Sony MDR wireless headphones and the sound is contained beautifully. There is a small cut during Diamond Dogs due to a tape flip, otherwise, there are no gaps or errors. The Cobo Arena was the largest date yet on tour, playing to over 20,000 fans. It’s been raised elsewhere that Bowie delivers an engaging and energetic show with a right knit band who don’t seem to miss a beat. I adore “Drive-In Saturday” being part of the set list. It glides smoothly into “Space Oddity” and you can tell it was a personal favourite for Bowie to perform at the time due to his timeless and charming delivery of the song. Another standout among the set list for this show is “The Width Of A Circle”. I’ve not heard it played much better on any other shows from the tour and is essentially, worth the price of admission alone.
This brings me to a particular point regarding the availability of these shows I review.
Over 25 years, I’ve been an avid collector of bootlegs and have amassed a unique and healthy number of live recordings from Bowie’s cannon of live material. Many people ask me why I don’t link the shows I review for the reader to listen to. The answer is simple. The few times I have, my articles have been removed due to Copyright infringements. The bonus for anyone who wants to listen to the shows is that almost all the concerts I review are available with a few taps of the keyboard into your regular search engine to either stream or download. Again, I do apologise for not sharing these magnificent recordings on here but the internet Police don’t like it when I do.
I hope you can find the time to not only track down this concert, but listen to it many times over because one listening simply isn’t enough! This is Bowie live on his Diamond Dogs tour. A tour not to be missed on the bootleg circuit by any fans.
Set List: Intro/1984/Rebel Rebel/Moonage Daydream/Sweet Thing/Changes/Suffragette City/Aladdin Sane/All The Young Dudes/Cracked Actor/Rock’n’Roll With Me/Watch That Man/Drive-In Saturday/Space Oddity/Future Legend/Diamond Dogs/Panic In Detroit/Big Brother/Time/The Width Of A Circle/The Jean Genie/Rock’n’Roll Suicide