My Memories of David Bowie in Concert
Like many, I was shocked to open my email first thing this morning to find that David Bowie had passed away from cancer at age 69. I immediately thought of the one time I had the chance to see Bowie in concert, in 1983 at the Hartford Civic Center.
I've seen lots of concerts in my life. Some have stuck with me more than others. For a variety of reasons, that Bowie show is crystal clear in my memory.
We had lousy seats, about 10 rows from the back on the corner opposite the stage. There were a couple of drunk guys behind us that wouldn't stop yelling "serious moonlight!" all night long, regardless of the fact that Bowie played "Let's Dance" pretty early in the set.
I remember that he came onstage to a recording of "Jean Genie." I thought that was pretty cool and kind of ballsy, to have one of your own songs as the intro music.
I went to the show not really knowing what to expect, and figuring that would be the norm for a guy that followed his own drumbeat as much as Bowie did. I had no idea whether he was going to play any of his hits or not, even though he was touring in support of "Let's Dance," which would turn out to be his best-selling album. As it turns out, there was nothing to fear as he rolled out plenty of hits: Heroes, Golden Years, Ashes to Ashes, Space Oddity, Young Americans, Fame, and Rebel Rebel were all in the set that night.
I remember that the final encore was "Modern Love," which was the single at the time. Again, a "different" move as many would save the final encore spot for one of their classics. (Which of course it is now, but back then it was a new song.) But that showed me how important the song must have been for him at the time if he was going to use it to close out the night.
The final thing I remember was that his onstage persona was so huge. Even from our "back of the hall seats" all the way across the arena, his presence was such that all eyes were on him. I honestly don't remember much about the rest of the band except that Earl Slick, his longtime guitarist, tore it up. Aside from that it was all Bowie. Here's a version of "Heroes" from that tour.