The Young American
U.S. Tour 4 Concert Reviews (June 1)
The Montreal Star 15 June 1974 - Bowie bombs at Forum The reigning prince of glitter-camp rock, David Bowie, inaugurated his gigantic "comeback" tour of America last night at the Forum. The British rock singer had "retired" last year from the stage, thus forestalling last autumn's previously scheduled tour until he sold a few more million dollars worth of albums. His latest is called, appropriately, Diamond Dogs, and features a cover illustration of the gaunt faced, asexual Bowie as a dog; his private parts were blacked-out by his record company, and it's just as well. Naturally, the staging of the show was elaborate because staging is what Bowie is all about. He personifies and recreates cliches, most of them deathly melodramatic and from the movies, in an exaggerated fay way. His every move and expression is calculated and acted out on cue, and what he comes off as is a crummy actor. An ineffectual stage-hogger - the show was a non-stop hour and 45 minutes. He couldn't get off, he was a mannequin in floodlights and once they put him away for the night, he didn't return for the perfunctory Forum encore. The stage was built at weird angles like in 1920 German expressionist silents, with a cityscape as the backdrop. The band paled to one side of the stage and Bowie had plenty of space to pace around in. Instead of a chick chorus, he had a couple of fay cronies (or "dogs" as the program informed) doing weird things dressed in black. The performers cast long shadows over the stage - he whole set-up was an immaculately contrived display of staging.   And it was all for nothing, because Bowie is one of the most undynamic performers on stage today. He strikes poses, and opens his mouth and emits bland ounds. He is somewhat reminiscent of Johnny ray, except Johnny Ray was better: his tears were real. Bowie is worse than Adam Faith. He's worse than Freddy & the Dreamers. Worse than Bill Wyman! Bowie is an unaffecting stage performer, despite his programmed array of postures. His most emotional moment came when he went off stage during a guitar solo and reappeared on a terrace, wearing an oversized vintage wrap-around coat, bowing his head and looking moodily into the distance. He looked as if he was posing for a photograph. Big deal. There's nothing that he puts out on stage that makes you want to care about him. Despite the flashing red neon lightning rod - his symbol - and a crane that lifted Bowie bathed in purple light, singing Space Oddity over his audience, there was no direct immediacy from him, only from the hoked-up act. His band made a lot of tightly executed noise, filled with stock rock riffs, slotted in when needed (like the aesthetics of muzak). As the show wore on, it became apparent there was going to be no intermission, and pretty soon the clever staging was collapsing. The next time Bowie "retires", I hope it's for keeps. JUAN RODRIGUEZ Red Deer Advocate 17 June 1974 - Glamor Bowie cheered Montreal (CP) - After more than a year off the road, David Bowie, rock music's glamor boy, has returned to the concert circuit.   Bowie, 27, one of England's most famed rock performers, launched his new North American tour at the weekend with a musically and visually stunning concert at the Montreal Forum. His first appearance in Canada attracted more than 15,000 fans. Without an introduction, Bowie, eyes up and face made up, launched into a series of his best- known songs. Highlighting the performance was Space Oddity which he recorded in 1969.   Bowie has won popularity through his outwardly homosexual appearance as well as his music.   Backed by the Spidermen from Mars, Bowie and his two male back singers exchanged many suggestive embraces during the performance while the crowd cheered.   The tour which ends July 20 in New York City, included two other Canadian appearances; in Ottawa's Civic Centre today and in Toronto's O'Keefe Centre Sunday.   Thirty-seven concerts are scheduled for the tour. Montreal Gazette 17 June 1974 - Quality shines through Bowie's show There is one thing that separates David Bowie's stage show from the vast majority of rock acts today, and that is its sheer quality. Only those who weren't paying attention could have avoided enjoying Bowie's stunning performance at the nearly-full Forum Friday night. This was no ordinary "rock show" in any sense of the word. This was the grand opening of Bowie's first North American tour in two years, and it looks like this is the tour that, together with a new hit album, will finally break Bowie on this side of the Atlantic. British audiences have been adulating him for years. The whole show was marked by quality. When Bowie does mime, he does mime well; he's not just a dilettante at it like others (including Peter Gabriel of Genesis, whom Bowie puts to shame). When Bowie sings, it is with total control, assurance, and nuance. And when Bowie dances... well, let's just say he may well be the Caucasian James Brown! Bowie understands and appreciates the stage, and he knows how to use it. He is a consummate performer in the true sense of a Judy Garland or Fred Astaire, both of whom he admires. Then there is Bowie's music, songs that are as thoughtful and as well-constructed as any in rock. Songs that range from the cosmic Space Oddity to the streetwise Rebel Rebel, the latter well on its way to being Bowie's first North American hit. Most of Bowie's material came from his current LP, Diamond Dogs, plus his last serious album, Aladdin Sane - an album filled with great songs but inexplicably overlooked by most Montreal FM stations. From Aladdin Sane, Bowie also did Jean Genie, voted England's top single last year; plus Cracked Actor, with saxophones trying their best to fill the hole vacated by the heavy-metal thunder of Mick Ronson's guitar (Ronson, Bowie's long-time guitarist, unfortunately is not touring). Bowie's stage setting, as keyboard man Mike Garson put it, "Makes this more a Broadway production than a rock show," and this too was an important first. In act, even had one of Broadway's top lighting men do the tour, and the lighting effects were beautiful. Bowie himself, on stage, is a perfect hybrid of Humphrey Bogart and Charlie Chaplin, and, baggy trousers. Bowie's movements were all letter- perfect ranging from the feline to the swaggering. He is is rock's ultimate poseur. Unfortunately many of the people in the audience were either too stoned or too busy talking to appreciate most of this, and I don't blame Bowie a bit for refusing a much-demanded encore. Bowie does a lot more than just "camp it up up." his show so certainly is the most sophisticated in rock, maybe anywhere today. And his music is at least as original as anyone else's in the world right now.   In Bowie's stunning show we witness nearly all aspects of the developments of 20th Century music; he adroitly synthesizes all these styles. Too bad he couldn't have done it in Place des Arts, with it's fine acoustics. Bowie is the one thing contemporary music needs so very badly; a true innovator. BILL MANN Ottawa Journal 17 June 1974 - Bowie left ‘em hangin’ Britain’s symbol of glamor rock, David Bowie, gave a show that ranged from being excitingly spectacular to flatly uninspired when he played here the first time, at the Civic Centre on Saturday. As an entertainer, he staged a gleamingly polished performance, thrilling the audience with a combination of futuristic stage acts, mime and dancing. Fans rushed the stage and seemed ecstatic when he accepted a bouquet from an appreciative girl. But musically, he often left much to be desired, suffering from appalling acoustics which at times made his vocals inaudible, and sometimes failing to gear the sequence and choice of material to the greatest advantage. It was clear that Bowie had already paved a dedication in some quarters. A hard core of his fans sported the same cropped hair. Their faces were garishly made up like glittering masks. They looked like invaders from a science fiction film. From the moment Bowie entered among swirling purple searchlights, he delivered a non-stop show without even a pause for applause, belting straight from 1984 into his most recent Rebel Rebel.   Among the highlights were Aladdin Sane, a superb version of Changes, when he sauntered tart-like, in a massive trench coat, and musically accomplished touches such as All The Young Dudes, and Space Oddity. This number was spectacularly enacted, the singer floating from a rocket, in a brilliant blue glow, above the audience. After Space Oddity, he became more blatantly camp, miming a solo boxing fight in a roped ring, switching to a flying Swan ballet and turning West Side Story gay in his street gang theatrical of Gene Genie. But often the concert seemed to fall flat after such high points. The previous excitement dropped in the tedious drama of Rock and Roll Suicide, although fans rushed forward eagerly as he kneeled to touch their hands during the number. The show was rife with false endings and when the close actually came nobody realized it. The audience gave him a standing ovation – well deserved for his professionalism and artistry – but became aggressive when it was announced the star had left and they realized there was to be no encore.   Ottawa Citizen 17 June 1974 - Bowie show needs more rock, less role For all its grand production, David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs – the alleged theme of his latest concert - was disappointingly dull. In fact the most dramatic moments of the entire evening came during the aftermath of Bowie’s early exit. In North America, Bowie has yet to live up to his advance billing and Saturday night in the Civic Centre, before a strong crowd of about 7,000, Bowie again failed to reach any great heights musically. The show was 30 minutes late, during which time the audience was subjected to an aimless soundtrack that ranged from satanic grunts ready to be exorcised, to pretend pantings of pornographic passion already in the process of being exorcised. The stage was dominated by tall, grey cut-out skyscrapers dripping colored wax like a forest of inner-city candles. Bowie and his rather good band finally hit the stage and opened medium-strong with a good rendition of 1984. Dressed in a white suit complemented by red shoes and hair, Bowie looked and acted much like a highly polished, latter-day Bobby Rydell. He sang one under a street-light song dressed in an anklelength coat and when he removed the coat he removed his jacket – to a loud round of applause. This revealed a blue shirt with red suspenders and, save for a few latter-day Presley pelvic gyrations, this was the most risqué Bowie got all evening. Two singer-dancers who accompanied him did pander to some purient interest but not much. A high point of the evening – physically rather than musically – came with Bowie, his head the sole target of a tiny, bright spotlight, singing while perched atop the centre building. As the song progressed, a mechanic arm slowly lowered Bowie out over the audience. A clever gimmick but the visual effect was far more memorable than the song itself. Bowie’s routine with the 15-foot glistening Christmas ornament was equally underwhelming.   Bowie’s biggest problem, as the show’s key figure, was that he kept disappearing - musically rather than physically. There’s a lot of acting in rock and roll but there should be even more rock than role. As a smalltime actor, Bowie is a fair rock star but as a big time rock star, Bowie is a smalltime actor. The band was quite good and made tunes like Moonage Daydream, Suffragette City, Diamond Dogs and Rock And Roll Suicide some kind of highlights. Bowie wrote his own epitaph some time ago in Lady Stardust: "And he was alright The band was all together Yes he was alright The song went on forever …" Unfortunately Bowie is supposed to be something spectacular yet, despite impressive stage settings, Saturday night’s performance – 90 minutes without an intermission – just never did climax. Bowie received surprisingly good crowd response throughout the show and at the end, the demand for more was surprisingly strong and vociferous. While many left, many more thousands remained cheering and stomping until some time later it was announced that Bowie had left the building. Like wildfire, a chair throwing spree spread across the floor area as many young people gave vent to their frustration. Backgrounded by a dangerous barrage of bottles, the piles of chairs grew until a few individuals began throwing chairs at the security and equipment personnel on stage. Some chairs were thrown back at the crowd by people on stage but finally, before a nasty situation turned nastier cool-headed policemen quietly intervened to calmly clear out the crowd. Bouquets to the police, a slap on the wrist for the audience – whether or not their feelings of rip-off were justified – and a sad bye-bye to Bowie.   Toronto Globe Mail 17 June 1974 - David Bowie gives weekend of rock a stunning finale David Bowie’s concert at O’Keefe Centre last night was the most spectacular rock show I have ever seen. So spectacular, in fact, that the music in this first of two concerts was almost lost in the sets, lights, costumes and machinery. Virtually all of the 20 songs in Bowie’s set, which lasted over an hour and a half without intermission, were really mini-drama, three-to-five minute stories told in song, dance, mime and special effects. Some examples: The set itself (and it is a complete set, not just a few gigantic props of the sort Yes showed up with on its last time through Toronto) is a disintegrating metropolis called Hunger City. Speakers and lights are concealed by crumbling skyscrapers dripping huge globules of slag. A catwalk 20 feet above the stage became a bridge on which Bowie, standing under a dirty yellow streetlight, sang Sweet Things, a sad ballad of homosexual cruising. For Space Oddity, Bowie playing out the doomed Major Tom, swung out from a tower in a cantilevered chair on a hydraulic boom that had him, at one point, sitting almost over the first row. He sang Big Brother from the top of what looked like a space capsule. It then opened up into a mirrored room with floor-to-ceiling black lights and a huge hand that folded out into a staircase.   In addition to machines, Bowie used props like chairs for Jean Genie and a rope for Diamond Dogs. His dogs were Warren Peace and Gui Andrisano, who sang back-up vocals, danced, mimed and shuffled props microphones around for Bowie with machine-like precision. Everything about the show was precise. Attention to detail showed in little things like the fact that Bowie sang Space Oddity into a telephone rather than a standard microphone. In Cracked Actor Bowie was to have his face powdered off. The puff was right at hand. Nothing was ever misplaced. The whole show was carefully rehearsed and well it might be. The choreography alone was more complex than that in many roadshow musicals I have seen. Not to mention the batteries of extra stage lights including three movable spotlights on top of the towers as well as the four standard spots at the back of the hall. The sound quality was good. Bowie’s seven-piece band was good, and Bowie himself in a powder-blue modified zoot suit was amazing. He has the moves of a trained actor and the assurance of a star, a star in the old show-biz sense rather than the rock’n’roll one. A trouper who entertains with everything he can bring to bear on an audience. But what of the music – since is supposedly the point of the exercise? It’s up and down. Moonage Daydream and Drive-in Saturday are weak numbers but, unless you’re listening carefully, you won’t notice that fact. Bowie carries his poorer efforts on the strength of his stage presentation. ROBERT MARTIN   Toronto Star 17 June 1974 - Rock star Bowie an appealing mystery At one point during the first of his two O’Keefe Centre concerts last night, singer David Bowie danced to the edge of the stage where a girl was stretching her long arms in the air. Her hands darted out, clutching at his pants, but Bowie danced away, remaining always beyond her reach. It was as if no one would ever touch him, as if he wasn’t quite real. Everything about Bowie’s appearance has this sense of unreality. The 6,400 tickets available for the two shows were sold out a month ago even though the top price was $6.80, there wasn’t a single word of advertising, and the 27-year-old Bowie himself is something of a mystery. Yet it’s this mystery, with its hint of divine decadence, that makes him so appealing. Everywhere in the crowd outside the hall during the 30- minute delay before his first show began, you could see hints of his sexually ambiguous, futuristic style. A couple of confusing gender strolled through the crowd, one dressed in a short, frilly pink slip, the other’s mouth smeared with frosted lip gloss. One girl, otherwise normally dressed, was wearing an enormous pair of bat’s wings. And elsewhere among the jeans and T-shirts you could see lilac lipstick, tangerine eyes, hair dyed Bowie’s rusty-red color, and the familiar Bowie lightning-bolt zigzag painted on people’s faces. But even all this was nothing compared to Bowie’s show. The set, taken more or less from the jacket design for his latest album, Diamond Dogs (RCA CPLI-0576) was filled with mis-shapen skyscrapers (plus one rather pornographic image) leaning eerily every which way.   One column on the left concealed a hoist that floated the singer through the air during a song about space. And high above the stage, a bridge with several lights emphasizing its bleakness completed the harrowing cityscape. Despite the one hour and 40 minutes of solid satisfying rock, the show’s theme was the bombed-out future of George Orwell’s 1984. This, as Bowie’s voice intoned over some moaning electronic music, was where "fleas the size of rats sucked on rats the size of cats, and ten thousand peoploids split into small tribes, coveting the highest of the sterile skyscrapers." In all this, Bowie became a future Everyman who, in Sweet Thing, was hopelessly looking for love of any kind or who, in Big Brother, was cynically looking for a hero of any kind. Bowie’s voice showed a remarkable flexibility and range of sounds coupled with his abilities as a dancer and a mime. The show itself may have been a rock version of early Baroque opera, where the set often took precedence over the music, but Bowie knew exactly what to do. In fact, he is undoubtedly the first rock star to actually use theatrics as part of a total presentation. With his band on stage right, and two male singers-cum-dancers swirling around him, Bowie controlled everything, right in the moment when he was wheeled out inside a mirrored capsule that opened to show him off like some precious jewel. At this point, with dozens of fans clustered at the front of the stage, their arms out-stretched, Bowie seemed like something from another planet. And this, of course, was exactly what he had planned. PETER GODDARD   Calgary Herald Tuesday 18 June 1974 - Bowie packs forum Montreal (CP) - After more than a year off the road, David Bowie, rock music's glamor boy, has returned to the concert circuit in elaborate style.   Bowie, one of England's most famed rock performers, launched his new North American tour Friday night with a musically and visually stunning concert at the Montreal Forum.   His first appearance in Canada, Bowie, 27, attracted more than 15,000 devout fans, many dressed elaborately for the occasion, who jammed the giant arena to capacity. Without an introduction, Bowie, eyes up and face made up, launched into a series of his best- known songs, including several selections from his widely-praised album Diamond Dogs. Highlighting the pulsating performance was Bowie’s presentation of Space Oddity, the song he recorded in 1969 and which subsequently gained wide recognition. As the familiar tune began to seep through the banks of loudspeakers, Bowie emerged seated on a small, high platform which swung slowly across the colourfully-lit stage. Bowie, who describes his music as “tarted up, made into a prostitute, a parody of itself,” has won huge popularity through his outwardly homosexual appearance as well as his highly-acclaimed music. Backed by the Spidermen from Mars, Bowie and his two male back singers exchanged many suggestive embraces during the performance while the crowd cheered. The tour which ends July 20 in New York City, included two other Canadian appearances; in Ottawa's Civic Centre today and in Toronto's O'Keefe Centre Sunday. Thirty-seven concerts are scheduled for the tour. IAIN MACLEOD
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle 18 June 1974 - Bowie opens U.S. tour here David Bowie opened the U.S portion of his 1974 North American tour last night at the War Memorial. Titled “The Year of the Diamond Dogs”, it was more a show than a concert, but not too many of the 8,000 Bowie fans seemed to mind. Following the lead of Bob Dylan on his last tour, Bowie didn’t use a warm up act, but opened the show himself. Bowie’s appearance on stage set off the traditional rush to the front of the arena, where a good portion of the crowd squeezed into position and stood through the entire performance. Bowie, who is somewhere in his late twenties, was born in London with the name David Jones. After dropping out of high school, forming his first rock group, and putting out an album, he changed his name to David Bowie. Recently he dropped the David and now calls himself Bowie. Bowie got the show off to a rocking start with two songs from his Diamond Dogs album, ‘1984’ and ‘Rebel Rebel’. The high point of the concert musically at least, came a few minutes later, when Bowie launched into ‘Changes’, probably one of his best known tunes. Strutting across the stage, keeping just out of reach of the grasping hands of the front row crowd, Bowie seemed like a choreographed Mick Jagger as he urged the crowd to boogie along with him. ‘Suffragette City’, which followed ‘Changes’, sustained the energy level at the peak reached in the previous song. Bowie’s group which was built around Herbie Flowers on bass, Tony Newman on drums, Earl Slick on guitar and Michael Kamen and Mike Garson on Keyboards, performed well on ‘Changes’ and ‘Suffragette City’, two songs which derive their excitement primarily from their driving rhythms and Bowie’s vocal work. On much of the other material, however, they seemed a bit ragged, and failed to display much of the precision playing which was the trademark of Bowie’s former band, The Spiders from Mars. Bowie who is an accomplished musician himself, picked up an instrument only once during the evening, a twelve string guitar for ‘Drive in Saturday’. This was somewhat of a disappointment, coming on the heels of a press release which promised that ‘Bowie will show his superb musical diversity, lending his talents to guitar, sax, Moog synthesizer and mellotron’. The crowd didn’t seem to mind, and the show held its own as a theatrical production anyway. On ‘Space Oddity’, Bowie disappeared from the stage and started singing the song from the top of one of the surrealistic skyscrapers that made up the set. As the song progressed, telling its story of an astronaut who leaves his capsule and floats out into space, Bowie was lowered down and out over the audience. As the song ended his motionless form disappeared again into the skyscraper. The show ended with ‘Rock and Roll Suicide’. The crowd, which seemingly was attired to prove that Max’s Kansas City has nothing on Rochester, stood and cheered for an encore long after it had been announced that Bowie had left the hall. The evening was a satisfying one for people who like theatrical performances with adequate renditions of some hit songs. I for one would have preferred a format with greater emphasis on the music and a clearer presentation of the themes Bowie has introduced in his apocalyptic, science fiction songwriting. In the late 1960s, Bowie’s outlandish costumes, unusual stage act, competent hard rock music, and visionary song writing earned him superstar status in England and a small cult following in the United States. His last U.S tour, in 1973, was both a critical and a box office success. DAN CONNER