Tonight, we are going to look at Bowie’s 19th performance from the US leg of his 1976 tour. In particular, this is the second of two consecutive performances at Cleveland’s Public Auditorium. It’s one of the more outstanding audience recordings from the tour and is commonly known as Neo Expressionism among bootleg collectors. My copy came to me around twenty years ago now. Well, my first copy anyway. I’ve owned a few different variations down the years but this is the complete show which has the thin white duke in full swing from start to finish.
The sound is brilliant throughout with no interruptions and I suspect it was recorded a good distance from the stage judging by the lack of bass distortion and the easily distinguishable audience comments throughout. Now, don’t let the audience chat put you off. It’s quite minimal and does die off a few songs into the performance. There is a period during “Word On A Wing” where some audience members seem to be a tad frustrated by people in front of them standing up. Often, I wonder where the people you hear in these audience recordings are now? Are they still fans? Are they still alive? Did they have a massive Bowie collection or were they just casual fans or curiosity seekers at the time of the show? An interesting conversation comes up during the intro to “Waiting For The Man” as two people begin talking about security and recording of shows. It’s very faint but the local accents provide a fabulous insight into the night. I know this sort of stuff isn’t everyone’s cup of tea however, I do find it all rather fascinating.
The show powers on and with that, Bowie’s vocals gradually improve as he warms to the crowd. At one point, he begins “TVC 15” before halting proceedings early to move straight into “Life On Mars?” which then flows beautifully into “Five Years”. He then tries once more for “TVC 15” before cutting short during the intro once more declaring, “Don’t worry, we’ll do that one later” and they move sharply into “Panic In Detroit” which, as you know, includes one of the best drum solo performances you are ever likely to hear! Dennis Davis, we salute you! Don’t stress about “TVC 15” though because he does indeed eventually return to that number later in the show.
As with most shows reviewed here, this one is yet another that you can happily return to at any point down the line and be just as aroused as you were the first time you heard it. Looking back over the decades of Bowie’s live performances, it’s a nice feeling knowing that there were so many wonderful fans out there recording shows. When you think back to the 70’s, it must have been so hard to get recording equipment in and then to conceal it all? Thank you to all the concert tapers. Not just those who captured Bowie gigs down the years but those who recorded concerts from all walks of life. Long live the concert taper!
SET LIST: Station To Station/Suffragette City/Fame/Word On A Wing/Stay/Waiting For The Man/Queen Bitch/Life On Mars?/Five Years/Panic In Detroit/Changes/TVC 15/Diamond Dogs/Rebel Rebel/The Jean Genie