During one of England’s warmest summers on record came one of the hottest concert tickets available. David Bowie in Milton Keynes on August 4 & 5. These two shows would open the fifth leg of the tour and the second jaunt into Europe for a “Greatest Hits” tour that was verging into its sixth month by now. BBC Radio 1 was there to capture the second night as the crowd cooled down from a sweltering day in the sun watching no less than three support acts that included Jean Loves Jezebel. The tour have often been criticised in some circles for being bland and predictable yet, this was indeed, the point of the tour. Showcasing the hits for the last time and allowing the music to do the talking. And talk it did on August 5 1990.
The highlights of this show are many. The intro of “Ode To Joy” which is followed by “Space Oddity” sets the scene for a beautiful recording. Naturally, as you would expect with an FM broadcast, there are no real flaws that come with it. It’s also a complete recording which can be rare for radio broadcasts due to time restrictions. The visual effects that accompany each show are spectacular with giant video projections being the focal point. To do this, Bowie used an 80 foot scrim which would allow the video projections to play either behind or in front. The results were quite spectacular.
“China Girl” has a life of its own on this tour with a new arrangement which lends it well to the minimalist production that was used with just a 4 piece backing band. Back in the early 90’s when I began collecting bootlegs from this tour, I always felt the sound on stage was perhaps lacking a bit of punch. As the years have passed, it turns out I couldn’t have been further from the truth. Listening to “Ashes To Ashes” reflects the mood of not just the Sound+Vision Tour but the music of the time itself. Music in the 80’s was often overblown and by the mid 90’s, it had scaled back down again, paving the way for the likes of Nirvana, Blue, Oasis and Pearl Jam. Of course, Bowie had begun move in 1990 on this tour. Another song to come alive beautifully with this band was “Pretty Pink Rose”, a composition written with tour guitarist, Adrien Belew. It’s a severely underrated song in the Bowie cannon and it’s time it began getting an inclusion on compilations.
I do love this tour very much for the fact Bowie pulled out “Sound And Vision”, “Station To Station” and “White Light, White Heat”. Perhaps they weren’t fan favorites from the phone in but all three are must inclusions from the get go. Mind, I’m still baffled as to how “Blue Jean” managed to find its way back into the show after previously being played with limited success some three years prior on the Glass Spider Tour. Nobody’s perfect I guess? Then again, perhaps it was a begrudging fan favourite?
The 60,000 strong audience that wilted in the oppressive heat to catch this gig just outside of London were treated to one of the most enjoyable shows on tour. As a bootleg, it stands up with the best of them and you kinda wish you had been part of the crowd enjoying the occasion. The set list could have been a touch longer. Coming in at just 21 songs, you get the impression that a longer show might have been in order. Sadly, it wasn’t but this is a Bowie tour with no duds and plenty of hits. What’s more, it’s one of the better FM broadcasts doing the rounds from the tour and is readily available from all the usual online outlets.
SET LIST: Intro/Space Oddity/Rebel Rebel/Ashes To Ashes/Fashion/Life On Mars?/Pretty Pink Rose/Sound And Vision/Blue Jean/Let’s Dance/Stay/Ziggy Stardust/China Girl/Station To Station/Young Americans/Suffragette City/Fame/”Heroes”/Changes/The Jean Genie/White Light, White Heat/Modern Love