The Young American
U.S. Tour 4 Concert Reviews (June 3)
The Pittsburgh Press 27 June 1974 - David Bowie 'To Be Or Not To Be' Hit in US David Bowie, his electric-orange mane soaked with sweat, sat on a stool on the Syria Mosque stage, a red capelet around his shoulders, a plastic skull in his hand. How appropriate he should have emulated the tragic Prince of Denmark during "Cracked Actor." There is much tragedy to his story, as evidenced by his ironic inclusion last night of "All the Young Dudes" - he made Mott the Hoople with that song, why hasn't he done as much for himself? A smash in his native England, he's had but one hit single here and his albums rarely make much of a dent in the national charts. Many have heard of him, his studio expertise and his flagrant bisexuality, but few Americans ever actually have seen him (he greatly dislikes touring). Has public relations drivel created a Frankenstein his music and stage show can't match? To find out, he's on tour throughout the East, coincidental with his new album, "Diamond Dogs," and for him, just as for Hamlet, "the play's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king" and the adulation (and dollars) of a lot more rock fans, too. Amid props depicting damaged buildings ("Diamond Dogs" deals with the destruction of society), each song was choreographed, Bowie knifing, squatting, kneeling, kicking, lunging, thrusting, every little well-rehearsed movement having a meaning all its own ("Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.") Supporting him were singer-dancers Warren Peace and Gui Andrisano, and while no-where near his equal at movement, they earned their keep by playing foils, love objects, captors or toadies as each song demanded. Bowie opened with "1984" and "Rebel Rebel," two rockers from "Diamond Dogs," before climbing the scaffolding, donning a trenchcoat and standing on a bridge between two of the buildings for "Moonage Daydream" and "Sweet Thing," his voice particularly good on the latter. More colors than in Joseph's coat played off him from the spotlights as he, clad in a light lime suit, blue sweater, yellow socks and red ballet slippers, left the bridge for "Changes" and "Sufragette City," about the only time anyone in the audience was dancing with Mr. D. A few more songs ("Dudes," "Actor," "Rock and Roll with Me," "Watch That Man," "Drive-in Saturday") and Bowie, knowing the void left in rock theater by Alice Cooper's defection to "Hollywood Squares" and "The Snoop Sisters." began to unfold an act "whose lightest word would .. make thy two eyes like stars, start from their spheres." Reascending the scaffolds, he perched in a chair on a "cherry-picker" arm which lowered him over the crowd for "Space Oddity:" on "Diamond Dogs" itself, he went from bridge to stage, the two dancers wrapping him in rope like a rolled rump roast. For "Panic in Detroit," he donned boxing gloves and fought an imaginary opponent before being kayoed (he did a neat kayo job himself on a balky mike), and "Big Brother" found him sitting on a shiny plexiglas capsule which had been wheeled to center stage. The show-stopper was "Time." The capsule opened, its double doors forming a surreal triptych of mirrors and blue neon tubing with Bowie seated behind a giant black hand with twinkling lights, which lowered to provide steps. "Width of a Circle" was his cue to pantomime walking and scaling a wall, "The Jean Genie" was a whole-leg game of footsie with the dancers and "Rock and Roll Suicide" placed him suggestively near a rope hanging from the bridge and he poured out every last bit of emotion and energy he had. "Good night, sweet prince" "a toe-touching bow ended it all (no encore), and most everyone agreed it had been "a hit, a very palpable hit." The concert had felled Frankenstein the music alone couldn't have, though. While capably handled by a battery of workmanlike players, there was little fire, little pep, little excitement (Mick Ronson, your guitar was missed) from that quarter on these Imaginative, alive songs. Nobody seemed to care too much, however, there was so much to see. If this tour doesn't solidify Bowie's support in this country, rock roll's land of milk and honey, nothing will, and he can retire to his very own Elsinore to pout and be melancholy. He is a man, "take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again." Not very soon, anyway showmanship like this is rare. PETE BISHOP Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 28 June 1974 - Bowie Show Dramatic The David Bowie "Diamond Dogs" road show, which closed a two-date sellout run last night at the Syria Mosque, fused rock with theater in one of the most dramatic rock events ever to play here. Bowie's repertoire of about 20 tunes was in a variety of musical styles and he made smooth transitions as he moved from one to another. He was backed by a band so strong it was an act unto itself, with the standouts being the lead guitarist and Bowie's keyboard man. Marring their efforts in the show Wednesday night, however, were some minor sound problems and an unevenness in the separation of the instruments on the mixing board. The best part of the show was spectacular visual effects which evoked strong audience response. As Bowie sang "Space Oddity," for example, he was strapped into a chair about 40 feet off the stage. It was held in place by a steel bar that jutted from the top of a phallic symbol. As he sang, the device was slowly lowered to within six feet of those sitting in the front rows. ALSO UTILIZED in his act was a pentagonal, mirrored capsule that opened to reveal a wall of two dozen blue neon lights with a glittering giant hand in the center, which hid Bowie, as we discovered when the hand was lowered mechanically. And to think that rock fans used to feel the last word in theatrics was when Alice Cooper fondled a snake or Deep Purple took the stage in a cloud of smoke. Bowie's singing was captivating, and he exhibited an ability to change his voice when he felt a lyric called for it. During a hard-driving rock tune he could sound like a Mick Jagger; as he sang a softer tune, his voice resembled that of an Anthony Newley. There were even times when he sounded like David Bowie. Unfortunately, those not familiar with his songs may have had difficulty understanding the highly thematic lyrics with which he loads a tune. Thus, the points of many of the numbers were lost. ALTHOUGH HE was one of the pioneers of so-called "glitter rock," the androgynous-looking singer's attire was conservative by rock standards. He spent most of the evening in a high-waisted double-breasted suit. If Bowie had sat in the audience he would have been a visual anachronism, and many of the fans certainly would have upstaged him. Many of those at the show looked as though they were wearing Liberace's hand-me-downs. Also, there were quite a few Bowie-style haircuts on the men—and women. Perhaps the Bowie cultists were disappointed with star's conservative facade. Supporting him in the act w ere two singer-dancers, Warren Peace (get it?) and Gui Andrisano, and they complemented his fluid movements. IN ADDITION to his polished stage manner and choreography, Bowie also showed proficiency in the art of mime. Supposedly, "Diamond Dogs" is about "the break-down of an over mechanized society" — as Bowie publicists put it. But it is doubtful that the point was driven home to the audience, for in this respect the show failed. But that doesn't mean it wasn't exciting entertainment. It was. This was Bowie's second visit to Pittsburgh. He played the Stanley about two years ago just at the time his career was starting to take off. The dates here were part of a 19-city tour that began June 14 in Montreal and concludes next month at New York's Madison Square Garden. The tour coincides with the release of his "Diamond Dogs" LP on RCA. MIKE KALINA Performance 28 June 1974 MONTREAL: David Bowie ended his "retirement"," at least in North America here at the Forum June 14 as he kicked off a 25-city tour with a truly spectacular stage show. If Elvis Presley is the king of rock and roll, David Bowie is the queen. (he quite likely may be straight, but his following is more than ambivalent.) For his opener, Bowie was late but worth the wait, dancing on stage to the light of a thousand flares, playing no instrument other than his body, lots of bumping and grinding going down among all the young dudes-Bowie and his backup men Warren Peace and Gui Andresano. Bowie resembles a futuristic inner city gang leader. The show last 95 minutes and even if you aren't enthused about the music - although his band is exceptionally tight - the visual effects arouse and astonish. To top everything off, Bowie has the nerve to ignore the audience's pleas for an encore. Despite rumors of nervous exhaustion, Bowie appeared rested and more than ready for the tour, except for a touch of laryngitis. He has an aversion to flying, so the entourage moves by train or bus and it's like the circus coming to town what with all the trucks full of sets and electrical equipment. The basic set is a cityscape of misshapen buildings oozing multicolored globs of paint, with a scaffold suspended between two clusters of fabricated skyscrapers. The scaffold is the setting for "Moon Age Dreams," with Bowie in full-length beige raincoat, and on "Space Oddity" the top of one of the buildings opens to reveal Bowie in a space capsule which is hydraulically orbited out over the front rows and back. Other tableaux, with appropriate pantomime by Bowie and his sidekicks, include a boxing ring, a hexagon of mirrors, and a giant hand. The show ends with "Rock and Roll Suicide" which perhaps would be impossible to follow with an encore. Martin Onrot handled the three Canadian dates, all of which were sold out weeks in advance. There was limited seating in Montreal and Ottawa because of the elaborate staging. At the Montreal Forum Jun 14, 10,500 tickets were sold at $7, gross $73,500; June 15 at Ottawa Civic Center, 7500 seats were sold at $6.50 for a gross of $48,750; and June 16 at O'Keefe Centre, Toronto 7532 tickets (including standing room) were sold for two shows at $4.95-8.80, total gross $50,420. The only other gross reported thus far was June 17 in Rochester, N.Y., $42,000 of a possible $50,000 for Ruffino-Vaughn at the Dome. MARTIN MELHUISH