The Young American
Soul Tour Concert Review (November onwards)
New York Times 2 November 1974 - David Bowie shows gets a reshaping It must be said for David Bowie, who opened a five-day run at Radio City Music Hall on Wednesday night, that he keeps on plugging, restlessly unwilling to rest on whatever laurels he has accrued. Last July he brought his most lavish stage production to date to Madison Square Garden for two shows. Touring almost continually ever since, he has now dropped most of the overt theatrics, written a clutch of new songs and retooled his whole show. The result, on Wednesday, was disappointing. Mr. Bowie's theatrics last summer may have had their problems - shapelessness, erratic pacing, pretension. But, at least there were some striking moments, and everything snapped along crisply, both dramatically and musically.   On Wednesday, the proceedings led off with a lame half-hour by Mr. Bowie's band and mostly black back-up singers. When the star finally appeared, he seemed to be attempting to humanize his previous space-mutant image. But he looked self-consciously uncomfortable without routines to act out, and he was in hoarse voice indeed. The old songs were mostly unsuccessful, mannered and erratically distorted in phrasing. The four new songs appeared to be attempts at something a bit more conventional and direct, although the sound system and Mr. Bowie's vocal estate made a real judgment of them impossible. JOHN ROCKWELL   Washington Post 12 November 1974 - Bowie: Blending Drama And Rock David Bowie, the British rocker who out-flashed the snakes, surrealism and implicit transvestism of Alice Cooper and firmly ensconsed the flare of dress-up glamor in rock, had his Washington debut before 8,500 fans at the Capital Centre last night. It was a mixture of the old and the new Bowie. Remaining are the same concern for theatricality and dress and essentially the same songs he performed on his tour this summer, with their themes of alienation and rebellion. What's new is his band, in appearance a soul outfit, including a six-person vocal chorus, all but one of them black, and seven musicians with only the lead guitarist, saxophonist and pianist white. The group's opening half hour, without Bowie on stage, was decidedly rhythm 'n' blues: T-Bone Walker's "Stormy Monday" blues, a King Pleasure vocalised duet that included "I'm in the Mood for Love"; The Supremes "You Keep Me Hanging On" and the O'Jays "Love Train." But when Bowie strutted on stage, the tenor of the music shifted markedly. What had been soul quickly became rock and the strong, spirited though simple r 'n' b yielded to 75 slickly choreographed minutes when even the music seemed carved to fit with the stage image being projected. There's no denying Bowie's brilliance as a performer. His stage - pianos, drums, amplifiers, even floorboards - was totally white except for a six-foot, red lightning bolt embossed on the floor. His dress was smartly chic - gray tweed waist-length double-breasted jacket with heavily padded shoulders, a blue shirt with a blue and white polka dot tie, white pleated slacks with a small black scarf delicately tucked into a pocket, his blond hair swept back in a neat page boy. Every moment seemed precisely orchestrated, coming to a climax, perhaps, during the song "1984." The mammoth concrete sports palace darkened only to have four powerful beams of white light shot out into the audience. The band sounded a steamroller rhythm akin to the theme from the film "Shaft" and a bright foot-light projected Bowie's shadow - aping an advancing robot - on a 50-foot screen towering over the stage.   This kind of precision and vision ultimately makes Bowie interesting to watch. His imagination is wild, images of the city as a jungle and the planet as a huge battleground for science fiction confrontations ("Put your raygun to my head. Put your space mask next to mine..."). And he understands rock as a performing medium well enough to realize that a guitar solo at a concert like this is more important as an element of the drama than a musical statement. When Bowie placed his guitarist centrestage to solo on "Jean Genie" it didn't matter that what came out of his amplifier was a mindless series of loosely connected notes. The power and intensity of what was being played was a visceral attack and the applause that came after it went probably not as a salute to musicianship but rather as a necessary release of tension created by this well-planned machine-gun fire. Bowie knows the nature of the challenge in the battle campaign of rock. Still, it's interesting that Bowie didn't come close to selling out the 18,500-seat arena. What was novelty two years ago, considered by many to express the ultimate decadence of rock in Bowie's ambiguous sexuality, has become somewhat common place. In many ways it's parallel to long hair. The barbers in Bladensburg, who five years ago were threatening to shave heads, soon began styling hair any way their young customers wanted it - at a much higher price. And when you can see an 11-year old girl at the general store in the little Virginia hamlet of Bluemont wearing a David Bowie sweatshirt, you realize that yesterday's horror show is today's daytime television. TOM ZITO   The Sun (Baltimore) 14 November 1974 – David Bowie concert was sludgy and spiritless In this day and age of sagging economies, inflation and 'trade deficits, if seems that Great Britain's most lucrative export item to this country is rock 'n roll. Witness the 8,000 persons last Monday night paying upward of $8.50 a ticket to listen to the English rock superstar, David Bowie, at the Capital Centre in Largo, Md. It was Bowie's debut in the Baltimore-Washington area since skyrocketing to fame some two years ago and his second North American tour of 1974. The show headlined David Bowie and the Garson Band. Bowie recently named Michael Garson, an outstanding keyboard artist, as musical director of his new predominantly black lineup, which included Dave Sanborn and Charles Brown as saxophonists, Dennis Davis on Drums, guitarists Carlos Alomar and Earl Slick, bass player Emir Ksasan, Pablo Rosario on percussion and supporting vocalists Luther Vandross, Anthony Hinton, Diane Sumler, Robin Alomar, Ava Cherry and Jeffrey MacCormac. The Garson Band opened the concert with several spirited but seemingly inappropriate "soul" tunes. After a brief intermission, David Bowie appeared on stage. Bowie, known for outrageous costumes and glitter, was dressed rather conservatively in a shirt-jacket and tie and a layered haircut that looked suspiciously like an old-fashioned D.A. From his opening number, "Rebel Rebel," it was painfully obvious that Bowie sounded hoarse and some-what spiritless. He had a voice of absolutely zero expressive range. Maybe five consecutive nights at Radio City Music Hall and the grueling tour were taking their toll. There was a sludgy, mechanical quality to most of the rockers, which had little of the energy and sweep that made Bowie's original hand, the Spiders From Mars, so dazzling. Also gone were the little theater pieces that accompanied and highlighted the themes of his work. Only one song in the entire concert was truly exciting, "Suffragette City", which boasted a sizzling, syncopated Bo Diddley rhythm and a wailing chorus ending of '"wham bam thank-you ma' am." After all was said and done, I felt cheated. The genius of Bowie's past achievements and his own hitherto claims for himself have created expectations that this concert and his new band did not fulfill. It Is as if David Bowie has taken advice from one of his own songs and committed rock and roll suicide. BOB GOALD The Boston Evening Globe 15 November 1974 - Bowie is trading on past, sliding into sunset David Bowie, the outrageous rock’n’roller, now a flaming forties fop, now the lead slink in a soul review, ever the calculating showman from last until tomorrow nights at the Music Hall. Okay, so I’ll get right down to what you really want to know, like what the bloke wore (a padded shouldered, tight fitting, gray doublebreasted jacket cut off at the waist: light gray, baggy pants, and sporting a walking stick), who he was with (the Mike Garson Band and singers War and Peace), and what his new bag is this time around (slick latin and r&b tinged soul). But if I wanted to be catty, I could say something on the order of “it didn’t take him too long to run out of ideas,” or something on that line to indicate that perhaps the glamorous Mr. Bowie’s time has come, preened in the spotlight awhile and then slid into a well choreographed sunset. Well, I wouldn't be far wrong. Bowie seems to be trading rather much on past reputations. He'd be hard pressed for an audience if he had emerged into the public's eye in the same manner he exhibited last night. But don't take my word for it, let's take the evening from the top and see what I mean. The Mike Garson Band and War and Peace started things off and (how can I say this without sounding too unkind) received a polite response from the well-groomed audience. Very slick soul with rotating combinations of the six War and Peace singers was their forte, and they touched all the stylistic bases from "Stormy Monday" to a sort of scat duet, to "Keep Me Hanging On" to a repetitive ditty called "Funky Music," but I got the uncomfortable feeling that I was watching the whole thing on the Merv Griffin Show.   After a short break, it was time for, what the off-stage announcer articulated in calculated excitement, David (slight pause). Opening with "Rebel Rebel" after a posturing, posing entrance, he moved along to a repetitive "Dancing," before getting a few ripples out of the placid crowd with the shuttering classic "Changes." "Young American," a new song, was, like all the new material, undistinguished. "1984" was the first echo of the outrageously staged productions of the past, but it was only an echo with merely harsh lights played on the audience and a stage light casting an immense shadow of Bowie on the simple white backdrop to suggest a totalitarian presense. Then back to the mundane with "Foot Stompin'" and the new "When You Rock'n'Roll With Me." It took the exuberant "Jean Genie" to get the unusually sedate audience moving, albeit rather nonchalantly, toward the stage, and some monumental crashing guitar to keep things going, but "Suffragette" and "Rock'n'Roll Suicide" finished things off nicely for the encore of "Diamond Dogs" featuring a wardrobe change to an army fatigue outfit with a red belt and a polo mallet accessory. David Bowie has enormous stage presence and no little amount of talent, but his slickness indicates too basic a superficiality for his influence to last. MICHAEL NICHOLSON   The Boston Herald 16 November 1974 - A New Playing Style For David Bowie David Bowie has plummeted from Mars and crashed somewhere to the left of disco-music. The lash Gordon-styled rock’n’roller traded in his unisex space costume for a double breasted tweed waist coat, baggy pants and – believe it or not – a shillalah. The show at the Music Hall this evening (the last of a three night engagement) is David Bowie along with The Mike Garson Band and though it may have got lonely out in space for David lately, he’s not really an overnight Johhny Raye either. “I guess David has always had a kind of obnoxious aesthetic appeal,” said Garson, the show’s musical director. “The reason for the new show is simply that David began to feel he just couldn’t go much further with that celestial image without risking a lack of communication with the audience.” Three years ago, Garson, a native of Brooklyn, was a free lance keyboard man for people like Martha Reeves, Woody Herman and the late Bill Chase, when Bowie asked him to join the Spiders From Mars. His musical tastes gravitate toward avante garde jazz, R&B, and soul, and Bowie has cast himself as a singer in Mike's band. After Garson's warm-up show featuring soul standards like "You Keep Me Hangin' On," and a jazzy-latinized version of "Love Train," sung by Luther Vandross and a family of singers, Bowie zipped on stage to front this 13-man show. It was amusing to watch the crowd reacting to the new earth-bound Bowie. People close to the front immediately shot up from their seats with the opener "Rebel Rebel," and just as quickly fell back into place. The only dramatics Bowie employed during following numbers like "John, I'm Only Dancing," "Sorrow," and "Changes," was a kind of prancing back and forth across the stage. He looked like one of the Everly Brothers, with his orange hair swept back in a 1959 do.   But make no mistake about it, David Bowie has not sacrificed the key ingredient of exaggeration in his new stage image. His impression of a night club singer was tailored to an audience of 4,500. His white made-up face and luminous eyes made you think of Joel Grey's caricature in "Cabaret," there was still that glamorized decadence to his swagger. He also kept everyone off guard musically for a while. "Changes" and "Sorrow" took on the new flavor of soulish show tunes, while a new song "Young Americans" sung with a big acoustic guitar slung at his waist, was a chaotic blend of Elvis and Watergate all rolled up in a Cha cha close. It wasn't until the apocalyptic "1984" where Bowie's giant silhouette was cast upon a white backdrop that everyone started to feel comfortable. So comfortable in fact that when he got into "Jean Genie" the fans flocked about the stage. His space-age version of Jan and Dean's "Surf City" - "Suffer Jet City," was done with frantic choreography in a sassy cat-like vocal style. His schizophrenic voice goes from an impersonated baritone, to a gravely blues wail, and on up to a whining sarcastic scream. As a straight band singer, David Bowie is novel, but unfortunately not very mysterious. PETER GELZINIS     Sounds (UK) 16 November 1974 – Ziggy: Bowie remakes and remodels NO MATTER what you may think of the various directions he has taken during the past three years, you have to grant that David Bowie has never been prepared simply to settle down and do just one of the things he's good at, or stay working in one of his styles. At Radio City in New York this week he has introduced yet another stage of his development, and with a new act, new band, new music, and new show has moved into a phase of his music which is at the same time more original and yet more deeply rooted than was the show that became his most recent album -- "David Live". The weekend before his five night run at the massive Radio City Music Hall commenced, television broadcast D. A. Pennebaker's fine film of Bowie's concert at Hammersmith Odeon of July 3rd 1973. That was the night that Bowie announced his retirement, broke up his band, and disappeared for a year before returning to the stage in Montreal this June. The contrast between that film and the new Bowie is so acute that it's hard to believe; in those eighteen months David has run through a whole lot of ch-ch-changes. When Bowie started touring America again this summer, it was with a tour of unparalleled and unprecedented theatre. With Jules Fisher's help he'd designed an elaborate stage set, with sky-scrapers, bridges, and a dozen moveable parts. As theatre it was almost entirely successful, but as the double live album recorded at Philadelphia reveals the music was often thin and weak. Bowie had a bunch of fine studio musicians who were positioned virtually off-stage, standing well into the shadows of the set, and their music seems to reflect that role. Bowie himself was often more concerned with getting from one point of the massive stage to another than in hitting the right notes, and the LP's reflect that too. And then finally the show had to be a re-run of the mouldy oldies, with the newest songs coming from the "Diamond Dogs" album, but most coming from David's weakest record — "Aladdin Sane". That show started on June 14th in Montreal, and ran through highspots in New York and Los Angeles during July and August. The brief pause that Bowie's taken at the end of the summer now proves to have been enough for him to entirely remake, re-model, and retool his travelling show. The act that played Radio City was diametrically the opposite of the "theatour" of June to September. It's the Zag to David's Ziggy. The stage sets have been returned to their Broadway cellars, the futuristic displays are replaced by quieter setting, and the music is dominant again. The immediate reaction to this hugely improved performance is that Bowie has made an untypically wrong move in having recorded his tour at the moment he chose. "David Live" still seems a particularly weak document of a weak tour, and when MainMan has sat on the tapes of the Hammersmith concert for so long it seems odd to rush-release this effort now. The answers to that little enigma probably lie in Mr. Bowie's complex and tangled business other affairs. Few artists have been so protected and so effected by their management company as Bowie has been with MainMan. As an example we might take the background to the current gigs at Radio City. The price for tickets there is twelve and a half dollars or £5 sterling per ticket. Bowie is playing five nights in the city, with possible audiences of 6.200 each night (though no shows are actually sold-out yet), so a likely gross on these appearances would be half a million dollars. Rumour in the rockbiz has it that the MainMan operation was sinking fast, and needed a lot of money fast, therefore the exceptionally high ticket price and the release of the double-live album which involved little expense to record. Who knows? Perhaps Bowie. but as usual he's not talking much for "on the record" quotes in newspapers. Since these concerts inflated the usual price of tickets by at least 30 per cent it's hard to have to say that Bowie was worth it. But he was. This time around he delivered more on-stage than he's previously done. The music was entirely up-front this time. Where the band was consigned to the shadows in June, they're now occupying stage-centre, in both the literal and figurative senses. Now they've even been granted an introductory 45 minute spot to show what they're capable of and warm-up the audience, and during the rest of the show they're rivalling for attention too. With two exceptions this band is entirely different to the group of early summer. Michael Garson, the pianist, has resumed his role as "musical director" of the band (replacing Mike Kamen, who quit in August), and Earl Slick is still the lead guitarist, though he seems unrecognisably improved. A second guitarist has recently-, been added, Carlos Alomar, who was Bowie's original choice for the band back in April. Carlos is a fine exponent of the modern black chop & riff style of playing, and he provides a stronger rhythmic basis than David's had before. The actual rhythm section are less than a month-old with the group. Bowie started out in June with Herbie Flowers and Tony Newman, and then in August switched to Willie Weeks and Andy Newmark. Those two are now funking things up for George Harrison, and Bowie has his third drums and bass couple in three months. Dennis Davis takes drums now, and Emir Kasasan is bass player they're a pair of unknowns who're attracting a lot of attention for their firmly supple work on the new tour. They're also assisted by a very fine percussionist called Pablo Rosario, who expands the drive of the band a lot. There's also a versatile saxophonist, David Sanborne, who plays very much in the plastic alto sax style that Bowie's used on record. That's the new musicians then, but Bowie's also radically changed his approach by using six back-up vocalists. Ava Cherry and Warren Peace lead this group, and they work with four other black singers: Luther Vandross, Anthony Hinton, Dianne Sumler, and Robin-Clark. There was a time when David would have been swamped and drowned by this many good singers, but his voice has acquired a new strength and range recently. Really, he's introducing a new voice on this tour too, and it's one that might interest Snips of the Sharks a lot. There's a similar throatiness and power, though David's never going to be compared to Joe Cocker for that! But the voice does let him do a lot of things that he wasn't capable of before, and his new songs express this newly increased range. Bowie already has his next album in the can, ready for a probable January release, and as he's announced it's a return to R&B styles — sort of. The working title is "One Damn Sing", though it's virtually certain that it will have a different title when released, and introduce another of David's Ziggy-Aladdin personas. Anyhow, four songs from it are featured in the present stage-show, and in fact be- cause of their length, they form the basis of it. David's new stage clothes seem geared to the presentation of these songs too, so perhaps we're seeing just a stage of a mutation now. He makes his appearance wearing loose Oxford-bag trousers, and his dancing shoes, with a very short buttoned jacket over his shirt, braces, and light-coloured tie. The effect is certainly -old- fashioned, but it could represent anything between Edwardian stylishness and 1950's un-style, with 1920's notions of elegance providing a mid-point. His hair's now longer in front and shorter at the back, brushed tightly across his forehead, and gleaming light yellow-orange. Earlier this year Bowie wouldn't say a word to his audience. He'd come on under the lights, go through his hits for two-hours and leave. Right now he's compensating by chatting at length between numbers, thanking the crowd effusively for their attention and applause — "it's great when people really listen to your songs" — and warning them when he's about to perform a new song. The sequence of new material was started by an at first unrecognisable version of "John, I'm Only Dancing", which has a bracketed "Again" added on the next album. It's like a mature version of the embryo that saw light of day on the English single two years ago. Then there's a long song called "Right!" with its chorus about "taking a ride" and Earl Slick's flashing guitar work. A few songs later two more navies appeared, looking even stronger than the others. "Somebody Up There Likes Me" could be a warning of David's approach to religion, or it could just be based on his new-found international super-stardom. Either way it's a tight, intricately worked powerhouse, which in the new show was topped only by a further new song, "The Young American". This is a storming emotional flood of accusation and violence, contemporary, enough to hit our reflexes with lines like "can you remember President Nixon?", but with a fiery permanent heart pounding a rhythm underneath. If Bowie's got this song onto vinyl in the way that he puts it across to an audience, then it's going to stand out as one of his classic songs, in the line of "Life On Mars", "Jean Genie" and "Rebel Rebel". It was a song, and a show, to prove that Bowie's capable of overcoming all his deficiencies to produce some of the best of contemporary rock. While it does not explain the lacklustre "David Live", it does show that Bowie has not fallen into a slump permanently. The Radio City show is the date that should have been recorded. But if David's going to reveal the potential of these six singers and seven musicians on his next record it should be alright with all of us. David's killed his theatrics, but he's re-introduced his talents with music. Which is probably what we've hoped for all along. MARTIN KIRKUP NME (UK) 16 November 1974 – Mr. Bowie has left the theatre NEW YORK'S RADIO CITY music hall, with its elaborate art deco Thirties interior, must be the ideal place to present a David Bowie show. Unfortunately the decor wasn't enough to hold up the first two shows. All reports seemed to agree that the first early stagings in the five night stint were on the abject side of rotten. On the Sunday night, however, Bowie finally pulled it together and staged one of the finest live rock spectaculars that New York has been treated to in years. In many ways New York is Bowie's city. It lends itself to the kind of social orchestration at which he really excels. As early as "Hunky Dory" days, he was courting the approval of the established Gotham Art Gang who have their epi-centre at Warhol's Union Square Factory. Later, when his phenomenon burned bright in the sky, New York was, above all, the city where his style and image became the blueprints for the kids who roam the hothouse nightlife of Max's or the 82 Club. Bowie was the mother code for their experiments in the transexual exhibitionism that has never been so successfully exploited by the likes of The New York Dolls and Wayne County. Of course, Bowie has had an effect on kids throughout all of "Western Civilisation" where rock-and-roll has seeped in, but it's been nowhere more intense than in New York City. DESPITE THE ADVERSE reactions to the first Radio City concerts, the effect was still as strong as ever. The crazies in the 82 might vehemently put down the Wednesday-night show, but they still felt constrained to disguise themselves in costumes from various stages of Bowie's development. A couple of bad shows weren't enough to stop the parade of look-alikes and oddities putting on their finery and hitting the street because David was in town. Hot Tramp was still the signal in the afterhours booze-and-disco joints for the high spots in perverse juvenile display, and the kids from the suburbs -- and even the small upstate towns -- painted sinister bat-wings across their cheeks, climbed into their glowing spacesuits and Busby Berkley outfits, and headed downtown. The show they got, however the experiment that reached its peak on Sunday night at Radio City Musical Hall --showed them a David Bowie who was very different from any previous incarnations. If you have to find a frame of reference for this new-look Bowie, the closest thing to it would be the James Brown Show, though that's hardly an adequate description. The performance opened with the predominantly black thirteen-piece Mike Garson Band, including six back-up singers and guitarist Earl Slick from the previous tour. They do a swift, choreographed sub-Stevie Wonder, bless-all-the-people-and - don't - forget-the-children act for fifteen minutes. An intermission follows, and then the slow moody curtain opens with the Garson squad doing a funky, almost "Talkin Book"-style, "Diamond Dogs". Finally The Man comes out. Bowie is a strange combination of Funk, Katherine Hepburn, Dickensian Tweed dyke, and the young Elvis Presley in a blue workshirt, loosely knotted tie and ultra- short, tight tweed jacket. He swaggers across the stage swinging a W. C. Fields walking-stick. Moves like a cross between Fred Astaire and James Brown. The phenomenon of David Bowie fronting what amounts to an avant-garde soul show is a strange thing to watch. It's also a joy. DAVID BOWIE is, in essence, totally unoriginal. He constantly borrows, steals and adapts. This is particularly noticeable in his visual presentation. He's almost like an animated flick-book, moving fluidly from one pose to the next. The creativity lies in the outrageous juxtapositioning. One moment he'll hit a bent knee, guitar slung across his back, pointing finger, total reproduction of a classic Elvis Presley photograph — the next he's instantly switched to the brave little girl, a la Judy Garland. It's almost uncanny how he can tread such a dangerous path with so much expertise. The posters out for this tour proclaim the message "David Bowie in a Complete New Show". In some respect, the completely new thing about the show is the source Bowie is no borrowing from. He's discovered the delights of being part of a funky-but-get- down-rock-and-roll band. Of course, it's progressive stuff, but the British kids' favourite soul mannerisms are all there. He struts the stage like Otis Redding. He combines with the vocal unit to wring the maximum out of every song. To the consternation of the loyal and true fans, a few of whom came back to the hotel to show the security guys their 8,000 press clips of their David, the songs do tend to get mangled out of recognition. Imagine "1984" done in the style of The Temptations, or "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" turned into a soul sobber on the scale of "I've Been Loving You Too Long". The prospect is at once awesome and objectionable. It depends on the conservatism in your heart. The whole thing has the streamlined professionalism of a chitlin' circuit soul review. The change-overs, although still slightly sloppy, went like lightning compared to the usual standards of first division rock-and-roll. The curtains are used for dramatic effect, and at the end of the show, after a statutory "Diamond Dogs" encore, a voice announces that "Mr. BoWie Has Left The Theatre". It kills the kids demanding a Second Coming stone dead. They leave the theatre with a fine sense of quietly hunting for more. THE PARTY afterwards at the Gramercy Park Hotel gave the New York Glittzers a chance to mingle with the cast and characters of the Radio City ensemble. Bowie, supping on sturgeon and sipping Dom Perigon, held animated conversation with David Johanssen of the Dolls, Tony Visconti, and Wayne County (sans wig and looking very straight). Talk ranged over s January '75 tour of Brazil, the Liz Taylor/Bowie silver screen debut shelved till next year, an album recorded in Philly for release in January, and the April/May/June tour of England, Scotland and maybe S. Ireland and the Continent. Next day the rumour mill tells us that Bowie's leaving early to drive to Cleveland, the next stop on the itinerary. This kind of irrelevant information is very important in the incestuous little community that hangs around any major rock tour. Vampirella and chums fade from the lobby, and slink off to their lairs to lurk in wait for the next passing superstar. The rest of us make our own plans for the hop to Ohio. On the plane to Cleveland I sit next to a character in an expensive brown business suit and cashmere sweater. It turns out that he's a tour manager for Ringling Brothers Circus. Ringling Brothers open in Cleveland the same night as the Bowie concert. The Circus has booked the biggest arena in the city. Bowie has the second biggest. Ringling Brothers are sold out for twenty days. David Bowie and his completely new show are only sold out for one. Rock-and-roll is put firmly in its place. It rallies slightly when the circus man remarks that his younger clowns have been warned that, if they sneak off to see Bowie and miss the show, they are liable to be fired. THE CLEVELAND Public Auditorium is about the size of Wembley's Empire Pool. Its decor is a little more sprightly, but the acoustics have the same air-hanger rankness that eats even the best P.A. for breakfast. To make matters worse, Bowie is suffering from laryngitis and his voice is failing fast. He works hard, pulling with every register that hasn't been burnt out, but it still doesn't sound right. The only thing to save the show are the musicians. Behind Mike Garson's rather overbearing conducting and multiple keyboards, they carry Bowie to, if not a semi- triumph, at least a suitable show for Cleveland. Cleveland's a solid, serious industrial town sunk in rain and mounds of pollution. The audience is for the most part in sensible blue jeans and lumberjackets. A few are decked out in fancy coats and fancy shirts, a few have daubed Aladdin Sane/lightning-flashes on their faces — but lower down are their best Friday night a-disco frocks. One young lady rushes forward and nervously hands Bowie a bunch of white flowers. He holds them for a while and then hands them to Miss Ava Cherry, one of his back-up singers. He explains that it is her birthday. It's all very polite and homely. There's nothing like the gangs of ravening androgynes (a blast from the past) who rushed the stage in New York. The musicians even grin at each other while they play. Bowie appears tongue in cheek, a little camply outrageous, but basically friendly. Although he cops a few of Jagger's poses, there is no hint of Satanic Majesty. It's all so nice that you could almost see him joining Elvis and Tom Jones on the casino circuit. He also looks incredibly tired. The show is shortened to an hour and there is no encore. The curtains close and before the clapping and yelling have seriously gained momentum the "Mr. Bowie Has Left The Theatre" booms out. The audience obediently leaves. The police department herd out the stragglers and it's all over. Kids walking home in the rain are bitching a little about how short it was, but nobody makes any serious complaint. BACK at the Holiday Inn, things are far more stable than they were in New York. There are a few grungy Vampirellas in primitive face jobs and some ladies maintaining they represent local radio stations. The roadies, security men, and journalists move in. They exchange heroic professionalisms, treat the ladies as colleagues and start asking them to come up to their rooms. Bowie appears and vanishes in a flurry of retainers. He comes back, but again splits. The drummer and bass player of his band commandeer the local combo who are playing in the bar. Bowie returns for a third time and finally settles in a corner to smile and watch his boys have fun. In an evening of juxtapositions, one in particular stands out. On our way out of the auditorium, two posters stare down from the wall. One announces Bowie ---- the other James Brown for the following week. THE MOTIVES behind this odd change of direction can for now remain only as speculation. It could be that Bowie, having moved as far as he could in terms of rock spectacle, is now re-examining his music. The other alternative is that he is Retreating From The Edge in the basic Bob Dylan scenario. Either way, Mr. Bowie seems, for the moment, to have left the theatre. MICK FARREN The Philadelphia Inquirer 19 November 1974 – Spectrum Is the One Flaw In David Bowie’s Rebirth So now David Bowie has soul. But then who ever doubted it? Unfortunately, the transition between David Bowie, king of the "glitter rock" crowd, and David Bowie, the new Young Dude of blue-eyed soul, did not come off quite so smoothly during his Monday night romp at the Spectrum. For one thing, the sound was terrible. For another, there has to be some doubt about Bowie's new musical directions. But then that horrible sound — apparently operated by the mother of the sax man in Bowie's band —made any judgment totally out of reach. A pity, too, because Philadelphia has become such a vital showcase for the development of David Bowie —going back to his debut at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby some three years ago. To date, everything has gone like clockwork. A natural progression in the development of a superstar —arriving at a nifty break-through with the recording of his latest live album at the Tower last summer, taking time out for a recording based on the "Philadelphia Sound" at Sigma Sound Studios a couple of months later, and climaxing with the big Spectrum blast Monday night — followed by a repeat performance next Monday night. However, there was one flaw in this beautiful game plan. The music at the Spectrum Monday night was lousy. Bowie tried to soften the capacity crowd — and there were a lot more "straights" than Glitter folks on hand —with an opening session by his back-up band and support singers. It turned out to be one of the most dreadful sessions of music laid on a Spectrum audience since someone in one of the bad seats tried to sing "God Bless America" last spring. For those who care about such things, the sound was reportedly administered by the Bowie organization, not the Spectrum. Unfortunately, this kind of thing is becoming a habit, since groups take off on the road prepared to play the worst halls in the world, and the Spectrum sound really isn’t all that bad. Bowie's fans are accustomed to getting nothing but Bowie, so when the show began and they did not get Bowie immediately — they were properly disenchanted with the preliminary offerings. But, at least, there was the promise of Bowie himself after intermission. And so he came. And the crowd went ape, because it was their duty. But his adoring fans were short-changed by the latest whim of David Bowie. Woefully so. Soul alone is not enough. JACK LLOYD Philadelphia Bulletin 19 November 1974 - Bowie’s Soul Works But His Voice Is Off IN THE RELATIVELY BRIEF SPACE of three years, David Bowie has earned a remarkable reputation as one of Rock's transcendant figures. His incarnations have been varied and sudden - last night as headliner of a self-styled "soul revue" before a nearly-full Spectrum - while each in its own way has set a new standard for rock showmanship and, not incidentally, rock music. When he burst nova-bright upon the pop scene in 1972, the 27-year old Briton hid behind the glittering, androgynous costume and make-up of his song-creation, Ziggy Stardust. As misinterpreted as he was outrageous, Bowie-Ziggy soon found himself the mama-papa of - take your pick - "glitter," "gay" or "drag" rock; indeed, his sensual, severe vocals - brittle, consummately phrased, and edged in a certain teary anguish - did little to allay the image. Nor did his looks: spikey, avant-fashion, orange-dyed hair: pancake, eyeshadow, lipstick, occasional earrings: the cheekbone elegance and down-tugged jawline of a rejuvenated Katherine Hepburn. Yet Bowie's astonishing stage presence and superb role-play - shimmering feminine to masculine in blinks of the eye - asserted something uniquely erogenous rather than merely bisexual.   NOW - after his summer incarnation, having set another standard, this time for theatrical rock, with an immense, choreographed, prop-laden extravaganza - Bowie leads a revue which reflects his evolving interest in Black and Latin pop forms. The show, featuring a revamped crew of musicians led by pianist Mike Garson and five soulful back-up vocalists, is yet another departure for Bowie, marking his transition from Role Player to Pure Entertainer. In general, it works, and last night's audience seemed won over by the fast-paced opening segment, which features the five vocalists (in various combinations) warming up with an affecting program of some new Bowie songs - thoroughly funky vehicles - as well as a powerful version of the Supremes' "You Keep Me Hangin' On" and Jeffrey MacCormack's fine solo handling of Bruce Springsteen's "Growin' Up." Unfortunately, Bowie's voice has not been able to withstand so much recent touring, and his edge was considerably blunted by raw, uneven and generally strained singing. His new songs - recorded during an August stopover at 12th Street's Sigma Sound Studios - are somewhat suited to this bluesy rawness since they are in the "soul" vein, but the older material - "Changes," "Rock N' Roll With Me," "Moonage Daydream" - suffered greatly in comparison with past performances. MATT DAMSKER The Atlanta Constitution 2 December 1974 – Bowie: Too Little, Too Late Putting a lethargic touch on an exciting Atlanta weekend of music, British rocker David Bowie arrived late from Nashville in his Cadillac limo and put on an extraordinarily disappointing show at the Omni Sunday night. The crowd, dulled from a five-day weekend, was not aroused by the glitter idol. Bowie's last appearance in Atlanta, a June 30 date at the Fox, was Bowie at his best, and featured incredible space contraptions that lowered the orange haired Englishman over the audience on a velvet hand. The Sunday night show, however, had none of the usually exciting Bowie choreography or 1984 contraptions, though the show was billed as the usual Bowie fare. An Omni official explained that due to the arena's setup for hockey, the Omni could not handle Bowie's truckloads of Broadway apparatus. Therefore, he said, the usual Bowie show had to be modified. "We knew about this two months ago," he added. A Bowie road manager explained that the star "got tired" of the original show which was full of broadway trappings. "Bowie just wanted to play with the band," he said. Yawn. ART HARRIS Memphis Commercial Appeal 7 December 1974 - Fizzling Start Sets Dull Tone For Bowie The David Bowie concert last night at the Mid-South coliseum got off to a fizzling start as his band and chorus came out to open. The mostly black outfit went through several soul numbers, and although their stage presence was adequate, the vocals were flat and really uninspired. Only a version of the old blues number "Stormy Monday" stood out in the whole set. The band itself played fairly well, especially the sax player, but the overall sound, unfortunately, was muddled. In opening his segment with "Rebel, Rebel," Bowie, in sophisticated '40s dress, showed little of the strange costumes that he has become known for. The emphasis was on the songs themselves and the music. At times, his voice was lost under the band and chorus. But when it did come through, Bowie sounded in great shape, and with the visual effects kept to a minimum, it gave you a chance to concentrate on his singing. About 9,400 persons, just short of a sellout, saw the concert, which was Bowie's fifth in Memphis. WALTER DAWSON