The Young American
U.S. Tour 4 Concert Reviews (July 2)
  Variety 24 July 1974 The theatrics of David Bowie were large enough for Madison Square Garden, but in the arena’s far reaches, faces and nuances were completely lost as was his w.k. sexual ambivalence. In the second of a two-night stand Saturday (20): Bowie did 100 minutes sans his accustomed glitter and sans intermission.   The two-night promotion of Mainman and Ron Delsener was sold out, but barely, although the large stage set limited seats sold to about 13,000 each night. Bowie ran through a full unconnected program of material etched for RCA with emphasis on `Diamond Dogs.' His voice sounded rough at first, but was soon okay. Support included singer-dancers Gui Andrisano and Warren Peace, plus eight fine musicians with Michael Kamen, ex of the NY Rock & Roll-Ensemble, as music director from his keyboards. Among those with featured segs were lead guitarist Earl Slick, pianist Mike Garson, alto saxist Dave Sanborn and bass guitarist Herbie Flowers. Baritone saxist Richard Grando, drummer Tony Newman and percussionist Pablo Rosario completed the backup. Elaborate set, designed by Mark Ravitz, hinted of a city, probably New York, which is the subject of many Bowie tunes. Bowie often sang from platforms and scaffolding near the top of the set. Speakers, suspended from high positions, prevented the usual view obstruction caused by onstage speakers. Only regular obstruction was pocket at the rear of the center of the first section of the orchestra, where standees usually abound. Relatively few fire-crackers landed on orchestra patrons. But, despite the enthusiasm, there seemed to be a letdown about the program. The British headliner ended on a low key instead of an anticipated spectacular fashion. He then was spirited out avoiding an encore. Bowie was flashier in his last Gotham appearances some 18 months ago at Radio City Music Hall. Perhaps, he goes better in theatres. The Village Voice 25 July 1974 - Dancing at disaster’s edge In the course of his pilgrim's progress toward stardom, DAVID BOWIE'S artistic vision, as documented by his vinyl forays, has become increasingly bleak. The dream of redemption by the next generation or interstellar travellers that pervaded "Hunky Dory" and "Ziggy Stardust" has crumbled into the radioactive wreckage of the "Diamond Dogs" where the only hope of survival lies in total humiliation and submission. In light of this growing pessimism, Bowie's performance on his current concert tour seemed a step back from the abyss, an elaborate divertissement at the edge of a disaster. The atmosphere of anticipation in the Garden had far more of the gunpowder in the nostrils of an art gallery on opening night than the electric excitement of a concert hall. Where the Alice Cooper brand of "theatrics" subordinates the visuals into a function of the music. Bowie's simultaneous contempt for and fascination with the latest incarnation of his vision results in the sacrifice of excitement for an elaborately choreographed production. Everything about the show bespoke tremendous attention to even the smallest details. In the process, all spontaneity of rock 'n' roll has been lost. Bowie's new backing band with only pianist Mike Garson remaining from the old Spiders, is the thoroughly disciplined and professional, but they are seldom given a chance to do more than play their charts. The only time they really cut loose at the show I saw was on the old Eddie Floyd r&b standard "Knock On Wood", dropping the postures and poses. Bowie threw back his red mane and strutted through it.   Taken on its own level, as neither rock raveup nor musical show, the concert worked as a stupendously orchestrated entertainment. Beginning with rocking versions of "1984" and "Rebel Rebel", the more than two-hour performance spanned the last five years of Bowie's music. "Space Oddity," midway through the show, was the first superproduction, with Bowie singing into a telephone while being slowly lowered from a blood-dripping skyscraper by a crane. "Jean Genie," formerly a tough electric blues, was transformed into a torch ballad, replete with Garson's tinkling piano flourishes and beer garden sax. In the course of a "Big Brother" / "Time" / "Width of a Circle" medley, he was disgorged and then swallowed by a mirror-studded cross between a space capsule and a tank, and Ziggy's invitation to freak out in a "Moonage Daydream" became a wistful memory of an earlier and more innocent age before daydreams became an insupportable luxury. Bowie is taking rock 'n' roll someplace it's never been before, but only time will show whether his chosen road leads to a breakthrough or a blind alley. If those who will inevitably follow are able to experiment with the new possibilities in rock staging he's opened up, some real excitement could get back into the music. And since the future of rock right now seems about as bleak as Bowie's vision of the future, any change at all could only be an improvement. DAN NOOGER New Musical Express (UK) 27 July 1974 - David Bowie has left the theatre... Madison Square Garden was the date for which MainMan had waited for over two years. There's the well-known musicbiz story of how Tony Defries walked into a prominent agent's office here in New York before David had toured in the States and suggested that his boy would best begin American exposure by headlining at Madison Square Garden. While the agent was busy regaining his composure, DeFries continued to expound upon his plans; Bowie would thus headline all over the country, make front page news, and then, next time around - baseball stadiums. Well, it never quite worked out that way, but two tours and two years later, Bowie did manage to sell out (well, considering that they only put 13,000 seats on sale) the big hall twice. And there were rumours that DeFries didn't even want David to play it with this show and these sets, but they did it anyway. They shouldn't have, actually, for this latest Bowie production is far more suited to a smaller hall - or a Broadway theatre - than a huge arena where much of it was lost. But first things first. Friday night's show sold out just minutes before the lights dimmed. Announcements over the loudspeakers informed the audience that the show was indeed, sold out, and that counterfeit tickets were being peddled outside - so no one should buy any. The logic of this escapes me, if they were inside already - why would they want to buy tickets? Or did MainMan insist on the show announcement, so everyone would know the place was sold out? One never knows with this organisation. A souvenir 'programme' was handed out - featuring Bowie's pic, his signature, the date of the event, and an incredibly long list of the MainMan personnel included inside. MainMan personnel tends to have a rapid turnover, but it is assumed that the list remained the same for both nights’ programmes. Mick Jagger, along with Anni Ivil, Pete and Frankie Rudge, and Val and Dee Anthony, attended Friday night's performance. Wearing a nondescript outfit of a long- sleeved T-shirt and semi-baggy trousers, Jagger, in sunglasses, quietly slipped into his seat after the lights went out. One assumed Jagger had gone backstage prior - to wish the star of the evening luck; of course as usual, only the MainMan crew and Angela B, Dana G and Zowie B etc were backstage. Let's skip the show for a moment, and deal with Friday's social notes; a small private party was held afterwards at a Plaza Hotel suite. Promoter Ron Delsener proudly ushered in Rudi Nureyev (privately referred to by some as Ageing Mother Russia), who looked very tired and sported a rather unattractive hairdo as he mostly stood quietly in a corner. Jagger came in, and he and Bowie hugged and giggled together like two little schoolboys. Then - little devils - they skipped and raced through the room and ran into a closet. A few minutes later The Divine Miss M (Betsy Midler) came in, walked into the middle of the room and hands on hips, demanded, "Where's Bowie?!" Angela turned and looked at her, said, "Come with me honey", took her hand and walked her over to the closet where she opened the door and pushed her inside. The three of them - Mick, David and Bette - stayed in there for about a half hour - with only Ron Delsener venturing into the inner sanctum for a moment or two. Talk about the Gods at Play...  Unfortunately, no photographers were allowed at the party or inside the closet. The mind boggles at the yenta level therein. Other guests who enjoyed the champagne and the hors d'oeuvres were Hiram Keller (another one of those people they drag out when they need celebrities; he was in 'Hair' and 'Satyricon'), Wayne County, Tony Ingrassia, Angela, DeFries, all the MainMans and Dana Gillespie in a skin tight (and I mean skin tight) brown satin dress, clinched in and adorned with copper sequins - with her cleavage pushed up to her neck. Bowie wore blue. THE SHOW. Well... it was exactly the same as every other one he's done on this tour, with the exception of the addition of 'Knock on Wood' and the elimination of 'Drive-In Saturday' with the tacky eating of the popcorn. It didn't seem as though a note or a step was changed since the Toronto show I saw, and whereas Bowie still looked great, moved well, and sounded in fine voice - this show really did work in Madison Square Garden (sic - didn't?). The audience in part may have reacted favourably to it, like if they'd never seen a Broadway show, but that city-set really looked like a bunch of gray props, signifying nothing. Those chorines that he's got behind him still look ridiculous; one wonders if Bowie really is so insecure that he needs to have mediocre talent around him to make him feel he looks better. The two singer/dancers' "steps" bore no relation whatsoever to what the songs really were about, except in the most ephemeral way.  (During 'Diamond Dogs', when the two chorines tie David up in ropes, my companion turned to me and said, "I don't get it."  Well... I guess if a man is out walking two dogs, he's bound to get tangled). The audience at the Saturday night show was high glitter for the Garden but mercifully there were no firecrackers. Just lots of gaily dressed people with lots of old Bowie hairdos and platformed to death. My favourite was one Arizona Star, looking like an aspiring groupie in silver dress slit to there, Monroe walk, lots of unnaturally blonde hair and giggles... No, actually my favourite was the vision (female) wearing black fishnet tights, a turquoise feathered G-string and matching bra, silver mylar plastic jacket and matching purse, and - the coup de grace - a BIBA shopping bag. Oh, these Anglophiles. There were lots of kids with their faces painted a la "Aladdin Sane", lots of Bowie T-shirts, and - as Ron Delsener whispered excitedly to me, "There are guys here in dresses, for Christ's sake..." I had asked Wayne County if he was going to get in drag for the concert - and he said, "Oh - I think I'll just wear a blue polka dot sweater, red suspenders and a simple white suit." Might I also add that among the kids sporting make-up, there were a goodly amount of pimples on faces. I say this as a comment on age groups, effects of make-up, etc. The show started with the taped dog noises, flashing lights shining as the band took their places, and ersatz Barry White disco sounds of '1984'. Bowie came out onstage, but even in my choice MainMan orchestra seat I couldn't see him because the kids were instantly up on their feet. One shudders to think how anyone in the back of the orchestra (who had paid up to $10.50 for their tickets) saw anything at all throughout the entire show as the audience in the orchestra kept popping up and down anytime any unusual movement occurred on stage. 'Rebel Rebel'. Roar roar. Cha-cha. Most of the band looked a bit better dressed than they did in Toronto - wearing all black as opposed to the peculiar striped outfits they had on before... wait, I'm wrong. Herbie Fleurs (sic) is wearing same strange striped suit. Does any of this matter? I'll forge ahead. The chorines, to my mind, are still unnecessary. The set - as said previously, is lost in this barn. The sound starts out fair - gets better as show goes along. And it is amusing to hear hundreds of kids singing along - "Boys, boys, it's a sweet thing, sweet thing, sweet thing." The bridge comes down for 'Ch-ca-ca-ca-ca-Changes' and the tots are up again. One notice a distinct aroma of sandalwood incense, also amyl nitrate - otherwise known as L'Air du Continental Baths. In addition to the mimps, there are some Bette Middler-type fans in the crowd. I notice Gerome Ragni, of 'Hair' fame, also Donyale Luna, lots of hairdressers, and Jules Fisher taking notes in his aisle seat. 'Suffragette City' remains one of my favourite Bowie songs, and the rock and roll is very good. But I still can't get past those dancers, and I turn to my companion and ask, what do you think? "I'm mystified," he said. Yeah, me too. 'Aladdin Sane' always seemed a silly song to me, the mask/prop Bowie plays with is equal to the song. And then my god, he's actually SPEAKING TO THE AUDIENCE. (Well, it is the Big Apple, after all...). "Good evening New York!" (A little something he picked up from Mick Jagger, perhaps? Maybe he saw it in 'Gimme Shelter'?) Anyway, "Thank you." and "We're pleased to be here." Followed by, "Here's a song I wrote for some friends of mine called Mott The Hoople" - and the singing of 'All The Young Dudes'. I think that's the most he's said to an audience, as far as I know. 'Cracked Actor' - still with the cape and the skull and the chorines doing the camera bit, 'Watch That Man' - another good rock and roll one; he's so much better when he does this than when he tries to be Tony Newley. 'Knock On Wood' follows - and would you believe it - they didn't have the chorines knocking on wood in the back. David didn't even knock on his head for fun a few times - although he did shake his fist in the air. He does this superbly, and pretty straight. I know what's coming next, so I turn to my friend and say, "If you liked the bridge, you'll love this." "Is it as good as the Tiki-tiki room at Disneyland?" he asks. Watch. Ohhhhhh... Bowie comes out on the hydraulic boom for 'Space Oddity' and the audience is appreciative. The spotlight would pick that moment to go out, but it recovers quickly enough, and a new, good touch is him singing into a red telephone microphone. It's around the time that the 'Diamond Dogs' number gets into the rope bit that I find myself drifting. After all, I have seen all this before. "You know," my friend sez, "Why doesn't he do something like James Brown if he wants to be 'theatrical'? You know - like that bit when they drag him off the stage with the towel over his shoulders and then he THROWS the towel aside and refuses to leave the stage". During 'Panic In Detroit' we also decide that another cute bit would be for him to return from the corner of the "ring" that's been set up and be wearing one of those boxing mouthpieces and spit it out as he begins to sing again... As Bowie does all his little boxing bits to the air my friend whispers, "You have to understand - a lot of us guys used to do that in front of the mirror." And then adds, "But I never got hit that much." The mirrored spaceship sort of shleps out onstage for 'Big Brother', after which it opens up to reveal three sections of black lights and a huge diamante studded hand on which he walks - all backed by a very Lotte Lenya sounding 'Time'. The next part always has been vaguely hazy to me as I'm not overly familiar with the 'Aladdin Sane' LP - but I believe he did 'Width Of A Circle' and then lots of that dreary mime. You know, Man climbing stairs, flapping arms, swimming through water. He speaks again: "I'd like to congratulate you on being a very successful audience. I've enjoyed being here." 'Jean Genie' - a great song - is only slightly marred by the game of footsies he and the chorines are playing with each other. Then it's 'Rock'n'Roll Suicide' and that's it. No encore. Lights on almost after the 'Thank you!' and a Presleyish announcement - "David Bowie has left the theatre" (the theatre??). There's not much of a demand for an encore by the audience, actually. A few lit matches and some cheering, but pretty much acceptance that the evening is through. Industry "insiders" buzz as we walk out of the Garden. "Do you think it will be like the Alice Cooper tour," someone asks. "You know - big tour, big staged show, big ticket sales, big deal... and then... see ya, Al' "… PS - I am walking to a taxi when Ron Delsener's Chevrolet pulls up to the side of the road. "Pssst," he sez to me, "One block... one block down." What? "Party," he mumbles surreptitiously. "Here," and hands me a blue card on which is printed: "The Ice Palace Discotheque. Open After Hours, from 9pm to 7am. Every Friday and Saturday night. $6. Admission includes two free hamburgers, unlimited free soda, popcorn, cotton candy, Italian ices. Is he putting me on? "Come on," he insists, so me and my friend walk down the block. Also walking down the block are dozens of glitter mimps and black couples wearing hot pants, platform shoes and hats. This appears to be a Public Place to which we're headed, and I'm wary. When I see Lou Reed - hair dyed white and accompanied by a large drag queen who resembles Saraghina in 'La Dolce Vita' - I am even more wary. I turn around and head for home. I later found out that the party was held in a private room off the main discotheque. David did not show up to the party - which Delsener had said was for the crew. He and entourage remained in starlike splendour back at the Sherry Netherland hotel. Ah, fame. LISA ROBINSON New York Daily News 28 July 1974 - The Bowie Brand Of Vertical Rock I DON'T KNOW how high the roof of Madison Square Garden is; it must reach a couple of hundred feet above the stage. And when a musician stands up on that stage, even if he's Bob Dylan or Pete Townsend or Mick Jagger, he's not reaching even seven feet into all that space. David Bowie tried to change that last weekend. He reached upward for the roof—he brought with him elaborate sets and props that took him 30 or 40 feet into the air, above the stage, above the crowd on the Garden floor. Bowie's rock and roll was powerful, but what was most intriguing, I think, was that Bowie was reaching out and .up into vertical space. Props like Bowie's bridge that could be raised up to 30 feet above the stage, or his cherry-picker—that bucket on a pole that telephone repairmen and firemen use—are revolutionary to rock music. But that's only because rock has been slow to employ some of the tricks of the trade that are commonly used in musical theater and in opera. Props. I guess that's what it comes down to. Each song was a different visual adventure. Before Bowie sang "Panic in Detroit," a middle-aged black man, dressed in white gym clothes and carrying a towel, came out on the stage and backed Bowie against a post, tied boxing gloves on his fists, and sent him up to the mike to sing. The red-orange gloves were the same color as Bowie's hair, and it was funny watching him cradle the microphone in the boxing gloves—but meanwhile he was belting out a pretty mean rock song. After each verse, Bowie would go back to his corner and the trainer would towel him off, then send him out for the next round. Another song: Bowie was up on the bridge above the stage, hands jammed in the pockets of his trench-coat, leaning against the railing, under three street-lights. It looked like a typical street scene as he sang a ballad, except, of course, that he was 30 feet above the stage of Madison Square Garden and 15,000 people were watching him. Watching him—that was the key to the concert. When I came out, my neck ached from craning to see everything that was going on. And when I got home, I fell asleep on the floor, physically exhausted. There's a big difference, I think, between going to hear a great concert and watching the stage only to see the musicians, and going to watch musical theater, where you want to see every facial expression, every prop, every aspect of the set. It wears you out. The irony is to have this musical theater in the Garden. How many people there could see Bowie's face? When I could, which wasn't often, it looked like he was a great actor, a very commanding presence. But what if you couldn't? Or what if you were sitting way up in the blue seats, jammed against the roof—how much of the show could you see and pick up on? It's too bad that Bowie's popularity makes it profitable for him to play only in massive arenas. He would be much more at home—and reach more people on an intimate level—if he were playing in a Broadway theater, or even the Felt Forum. A few months ago, when Mott the Hoople played Broadway, I wrote about rock groups turning more and more to the Broadway theaters. Producer Ron Delsener predicted it would happen again soon. There were even plans, last year, for Bowie to play Broadway. But when a performer can play Madison Square Garden for two nights, and sell about 40,000 tickets and the ones I had, down on the orchestra floor, sold for $10.50 each, which is ridiculously high well, if Bowie can sell that many tickets, how can he afford to play in a Broadway theater that seats 3,000 at the very most? To earn as much, tickets would have to cost $40 or $50—and that is the economics of show business. Still, I have no quarrel with Bowie. He gave the Garden his best, props and tricks and gimmicks that worked very well, and he put on the best visual show that any rock concert has ever offered. He made past efforts by rock acts to use that vertical space look feeble. I'm thinking of the Stones, and the big mirror they hung over the stage, and of Dylan's mirrored ball, that spun and reflected spotlights out over the crowd as he sang "Like a Rolling Stone," and the Beach Boys, who had a grid of Christmas lights that flashed on and off behind the stage. Now each of those was a good gimmick, and exciting at the time, but Bowie brought in a total approach, not a single prop. The stage was framed with huge city apartment buildings, painted to look a block deep, cold and impersonal and bleeding bright red from wounds in the sides. And in the center was Bowie—with his bridge, his cherry-picker, his boxing gloves, singing one song to a skull he held in his hand, and another from atop a diamond-shaped coffin made entirely of mirrors, into which Bowie disappeared, then sang inside as the lid swung open. Words won't do it—it would take a movie to capture the Bowie concert for you. But to give you a sample of the music, too. Bowie's band was terrific, very tight, confident, attacking each song, never laying back. He not only did his hits, but threw in a couple of surprises. First, a heavy-metal version of "All the Young Dudes," the song he wrote for Mott the Hoople. He did it slower, with more punch, and it was great. Then out of nowhere, in the middle of his set, the band jumped into some very solid rhythm and blues, and there was Bowie singing "Knock on Wood," which was a big hit for Otis Redding and Carla Thomas in 1967. And it worked; real soul music! For me, the highlight of the show was "Space Oddity." Eerie—it was the fifth anniversary of men walking on the moon, and on the day of the concert, Soviet cosmonauts had just returned to Earth from their latest trip into space, and there was Bowie, suspended in a red booth in a dark blue stage, singing, "Ground Control, This Is Major Thom." As the song progressed, Bowie began to descend from his capsule, bathed in purple light, seemingly suspended in space—actually, he was in the cherry-picker, but it was hard to see because of the lighting singing into a red telephone. Yes! It worked, and the Garden crowd went crazy. JOSH MILLS Melody Maker (UK) 3 August 1974 – Bowie: the same again NEW YORK: Few people would go to see the same film twice in a month, or watch the same play or read the same book. The suspense would not be there and the suspense, the actual excitement is the most important facet of these forms of entertainment. In music the situation is changed slightly because a performer does not, in general, reproduce the exact same show night after night with the same rehearsed precision. This is especially so in rock 'n' roll, where the looseness of the form has created much of the accompanying excitement.   David Bowie, though, has changed all that. A month ago I watched his show in Toronto and was impressed. Last weekend I watched the same concert at Madison Square Gardens in New York and walked away feeling let down. The show was, as before, more visual than musical and the Garden is really too large a venue to attempt a concert of this kind. It belongs in a small theatre, the kind of place where I saw the show first. But more important, I had seen the exact same show once before. Apart from one song substitution and a "Hello, New York" after about - four numbers, every movement and every detail, every dance step was just as it was before. Once you have seen it, that's it. I realised after two numbers that I could pack up my note-book and refer to my notes from the Toronto concert if was going to write another story describing what happened. A deja-vu feeling came over me and I wasn't annoyed when the people in rows in front of me stood up and blocked my view. I knew exactly what was going on, y’see, whether I could see the stage or not. For the record, David has thrown out "Drive in Saturday" on which he played acoustic guitar, and substituted "Knock On Wood." Eric Slick, the guitarist in the anonymous group, came over a mite stronger than in Toronto. At least twice, the spotlight shone on him while David was mounting steps at the rear to re-emerge on one of the magnificent props. The show opens with "1984" and moves through an hour and a half with many of the 15 or so songs linked together in one continuous piece of theatre. Bowie is joined on stage for most of the show by two dancers who also sing back-up but mainly link up with him in dance routines.   It seems unlikely that the show will reach Britain this year. Bowie's concert was recorded live at the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia and for the next two weeks he will be mixing the live album. Later he is due for another US tour, this time in the West. Main Man hope to release the live album during September, when the tour opens in Los Angeles.