The Young American
U.S. Tour 4 Concert Reviews (July 1)
The Commercial Appeal (Memphis) 1 July 1974 - Bowie Show Borders on the Unbelievable Strangely, uniquely and loudly, David Bowie was back for a third time to woo Memphis last night, and with the vigor of a bellowing bull, Memphis was back to woo him. Bowie promised a new show, and the show he gave to about 9,000 people at the Mid-South Coliseum was not only new, but bordered on the brink of being unbelievable. That is not saying the show was good, just unbelievable. His singing has not improved, and he still likes to drown sanity with sound. It's when he sings to a telephone in a suspended chair 20 feet above an inviting crowd or when he strokes the thumb of a six-foot hand bedecked with blinking lights that the entertained know it is no run-of-the-mill rock show. When Bowie hits the stage with his affectionate group of men there is an air of accepting the unacceptable. What other entertainer has been cheered as he sparks with his male co-stars? Even the dark-tanned girl with the purple hair who sat waving her feather fan in the back row seemed in place.   Bowie has taken what made the bearded lady famous and New Orleans' Bourbon Street entertaining and is making a fortune out of it. He has taken the unexpected, the heard-about but rarely seen and a pinch of actual professionalism to net his profits. A sellout last night, the show grossed about $60,094. Part of the new come-on, however, is Bowie himself. Last night, with the atmosphere two bumps and grind short of a nightmare, Bowie wasn't the floral painted wild man he has been in other shows. This time he let the mechanics handle the wildness and he handled the noise. Together they give one something to think about. MARK HANNA St. Petersburg Times 4 July 1974 - David Bowie proves show must go on The accident was bad enough, but the rattlesnakes made it impossible for the complete show to go on. And through the fault of no one, local ticket buyers got burned again. YOU SEE, SOME time Tuesday the David Bowie Tour was trucking down Interstate 75, enroute to his date to play that night in Tampa's Curtis Nixon Han, when a truck and trailer rig ran off the road. The large vehicle ended up stuck in the mud an estimated 60 feet away from the highway. It reportedly came to rest in the middle of a large central Florida rattle-snake nest. The big truck was stuck too firmly to be extricated, and the nest of rattlers discouraged the road crew from attempting a transfer of the equipment to another truck. The truck contained the famous Bowie wardrobe, the androgynous collection of sparkly accoutrements that were as much a part of Bowie's super-star reputation as his music. Also on the ill-fated trailer were all of Bowie's lights, stage props and other custom built theatrical attractions. Members of his entourage say that Bowie almost canceled the Tampa gig rather than play in street clothes on a bare stage. But professionalism — mixed with distaste for the prospect of refunding more than $35,000 in gate receipts prevailed. AND THAT'S HOW 5,200 Bay area glitter-rock and pop theatre fans got to pay an average of $7 each to see the "straight" part of Bowie's latest act. Fortunately, David Bowie was up to the challenge of entertaining his followers on the strength of his own presence and talent without the expected help of many thousands of worth of exotic toys. In a sense, it was a rare occasion. Tuesday night's show was the only stop in a five-week concert tour that featured the carrot-topped Englishman stripped of all his hype and most of his help. It must have been like the old days, back in England, hack when he had just changed his name from Jones to Bowie be-cause another David Jones had become famous as a Monkee on television. So Bowie played his music, and the crowd clapped with recognition of his commercially avant-garde successes. The eight-piece backup hand obviously was rehearsed to play behind the big stage show, and consequently the only real action on stage was the subdued dancing of Bowie and his pair of chorus persons (male). Bowie's current instrumental ensemble is competent, but their brand of rock music doesn't have the bite, the raw energy, that characterized earlier Bowie bands. His previous guitarist, Mick Ronson, has departed for a solo career, and Bowie's sound suffers from this. His effort to replace Ronson with two guitars, a piano, mellotron and horn section is fine for a dramatic presentation in a theatrical mode. But Tuesday night, the band lacked real impact, even though their technique and arrangements were impeccable. THE WHOLE EXPERIENCE was like watching a rehearsal. Bowie has put too many of his show business eggs in the basket that got stuck up on 1-75. Even though he sang all his big hits, danced a bit, and generally made a good impression on the uncritical Tampa audience, David Bowie did not put on a show that was worth $7.50 and $6.50 per seat. Of course it wasn't his, or anyone's, fault. Couldn't be helped a real shame. And once again local fans pay the cost. Only in the world of rock and roll can an incomplete show be offered without a re-fund also being made avail-able to those who choose it. But Bowie did play, and disappointed followers, many of ‘whom wore more glitter than the entire band and chorus, seemed pleased just to hear his voice and see him in normal clothing. His renditions of tunes like "The Jean Genie," 'Suffragette City," and "Changes" were well received, but none seemed to have the energy to be found on the original recordings. The final song was the best. It's his most famous composition and its title is "Rock and Roll Suicide." Bowie is neither suicide nor suffragette nor spider from Mars. Tampa Bay area fans saw him for what he is a normal, likeable and fairly innovative pop stylist for the '70s. But at $7.50 a shot he'd better bring the whole show next time. BOB ROSS The Tampa Tribune 4 July 1974 - Concert Audience Glitters, Glows  A passerby at Curtis Hixon Convention Center Tuesday night might have thought he was seeing a convention of fashion models or costume designers, but the elaborately dressed crowd was just the audience for the rock concert of David Bowie. But all the color, theatrics and pageantry were in the audience, as Bowie, known for his wild costumes, makeup, stage props and lighting appeared in concert much like any other rockstar, strictly in concert. A Bowie spokesman told the audience that the equipment truck had overturned on the rain-slick roads north of Tampa destroying most of the props, costumes and lighting equipment. But the lack of equipment did not damage Bowie's music as he continuously voted out old songs such as "Changes" and works from his latest album, "The Year of the Diamond Dog." But what was lacking on the stage in costume and drama, was made up for by the audience. An hour and a half delay in showtime allowed for "people watching" by the Bette Midler dressed women with midi-dresses, bright jewelry, scarfs and the "Elton John" dressed men with tight pants, striped socks and high platform shoes, with each person studying those more outfitted than he. They had all come dressed in the various outfits for many different reasons: They felt "it was just part of the show," they always got dressed up for concerts or as one 31-year-old in a business suit said, "I just felt like dressing up." Besides the clothes, the makeup was equally elaborate. Red sequin stars formed one male's eyebrows, while glitter provided the rim of a painted-on pair of glasses on another. Even in the restroom, young teenagers, out of their mother's eye, applied a second and third coats of the paints. One male had even painted his body silver, which matched his glittering silver hose and shoes, showing below his brief cut-off jeans. Yes, it was a night of shows, if not on the stage, at least in the audience. LENORA LAKE Disc (UK) 6 July 1974 - Brilliant Bowie… he sang, he danced and the audience loved it Imagine listening to a transistor radio under water. Imagine looking at the moon through the wrong end of a telescope. That's how it was at The Forum in Montreal when David Bowie kicked off his month-long North American tour. The Forum is a huge stadium normally used for ice-hockey games and its acoustics are worse than the Albert Hall's. Even so, Bowie received a 20-minute standing ovation. His energy is phenomenal. He sang, he danced and he mimed for almost two hours without an interval. He covered his career from Space Oddity to Rebel Rebel and Diamond Dogs from his new album - currently the fastest-selling album here. But his new act is far more than a collection of songs - it's an elaborate and brilliantly staged show. Bowie came bouncing on in a black tee-shirt and white 50's rockers suit, complete with the Elvis knee-shaking. During the guitar break he disappeared, only to emerge on a balcony above the stage, wrapped in a huge overcoat gazing sadly into the distance. Then he whipped off his coat and jacket, and there he was in his baggy trousers and red braces - the circus clown!   His group are over on one side pumping out a strong tight sound - but they play no visual part in the show. They leave the whole show to Bowie and his two "dogs" - his two friends in black, who dance (not as well as him) and who provide occasional back-up vocals. In one song they danced around him, tying him up with ropes. And then as he broke free the ropes became a boxing-ring, and he shadow-boxed around the stage. After that the "dogs" brought on a stool and some spot-lights and he posed - the photographic model! And all the while he was singing better than ever before.  One idea followed another. He sang Space Oddity bathed in a purple light, suspended by a crane 60 feet in the air. For The Jean Genie he grabbed a white hat and cane - Gatsby himself! The whole effect was overwhelming, and the audience looked on in amazement, not knowing what to expect next. It was the wildest thing to hit Montreal since the David Bowie-Marianne Faithful version of I Got You Babe was televised a few months back. Bowie tried something completely new - and succeeded. I only hope England gets a chance to see him soon. COLIN DAVIES Philadelphia Daily News 9 July 1974 - Diamonds Are a Boy's Best Friend If received as the "Broadway-styled" theatrical venture it claims to be, David Bowie's "The Year of the Diamond Dogs" needs, shall we say, a little work. The plot line is almost non-existent, and even the electrifying musical material begins to pale from its full-throttle, non-stop programming. Too often, you find yourself "humming the sets."   TAKEN STRICTLY as a rock and roll variety show, though, as an elaborately staged and lit series of production numbers, Bowie's latest spectacle proves extraordinarily ambitious and enormously entertaining. The show opened a week-long, sold-out engagement at the Tower Theater last night and I had a ball. "Diamond Dogs" purports a vision of a world after the holocaust, a "city of decay" inhabited by a trio of mutant beasts, played by Bowie and his backup singers- dancers Warren Peace and Gui Andrisano. The doomsday theme is hardly original. Nor, in this case, subtly executed. In his 21-song set, in fact, drawing mainly from the buzzing, metallic rock of the "Aladdin Sane" and "Diamond Dogs" albums, Bowie reiterates his staple lyrical stock of sadomasochism and bisexuality themes time and (yawn) time again. IN ALL CASES, he plays the suffering savior, the adorable androgynous one, crooning, pouting and dancing with riveting intensity and conviction. He is quite the performer. A tight eight-man ensemble under the direction of Michael Kamen, provides "album perfect" reproduction of Bowie's compositions. But the true stars of the show are the production values provided by Tony-winning designer Jules Fisher. His dark, angular expressionist set is a creepy concoction straight out of "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari." Even more elaborate are Fisher's marvelous assortment of mechanical marvels—contraptions that spin Bowie about in a metallic capsule, elevate him three stories above the stage, or, in the case of the hydraulic catapault used in "Space Oddity," soar him over the heads of his audience. Amazing. ACTUALLY, THE ORIGIN of these devices is the "Deus Ex Machina" of ancient Greek dramas. Traditionally, in those plays, a benevolent God would arrive on the scene in a magical machine, rescue the hero and tie up the plot's loose ends. The machinery of Bowies extravaganza works to the same effect, bringing guaranteed gasps from the assembled. Generally, takes precedence over substance in this production.   Bowie as the boxer in "Panic in Detroit" allows him to display considerable skills as a pantamimist, so who cares if the lyric and the physical shennanigans are only vaguely compatible? "CRACKED ACTOR" is a grotesque comic highlight, with Mr. B. as Hamlet-gone-Hollywood, though the levity seems out of kilter from the general sombre mood of the night. Best in my book was Bowie's deliberate, super-dramatic reading of "All the Young Dudes," a stirring "anthem" for the atomic generation. As "Gay White Way" dramatist, David Bowie has just begun. As rock and roll superstar, he has arrived in lavish proportions. JONATHAN TAKIFF Philadelphia Inquirer 10 July 1974 - Rock Will Never Be the Same  With his ambitiously staged production, “The Year of the Diamond Dogs,” now on display at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, David Bowie has taken a giant step toward legalizing the somewhat shaky marriage of rock music and Broadway-type theater. It is getting right to the point, a spectacular undertaking. But "The Year of the Diamond Dogs" is not - in case you were mislead by the advance hype - theater. Ah, but the elements are there. They abound. The staging is the most exotic ever presented in a rock concert. And Bowie, a serious student of mime theater, is in his glory, playing the actor from beginning to end, calling on the full capabilities of his theatrical bent. But in the end, one has to conclude that "The Year of the Diamond Dogs" is a rock concert. Not a theatrical undertaking. There is a theme of sorts. Tony Award- winning Broadway designer Jules Fisher's set offers us "Hunger City, an eerie post-holocaust, shell, oozing decay. And one can easily identify the two dancers who dart in and out of the proceedings, Warren Peace and Gui Andrisano, as the half-man half-beast "Diamond Dogs" conjured in the imagination of David Bowie. And, yes, Bowie himself is viewed as a questional Doomsday survivor. Prancing, dancing, strutting, using his mime skills with restraint but skillful execution. Much of the credit for the success of this production must go to Fisher: In the hands of a less talented designer, the special effects could be embarrassingly hoaky. But they fit in perfectly with the decadent spirit of "The Year of the Diamond Dogs." JACK LLOYD Rolling Stone 18 July 1974 - Performance: Bowie, O’Keefe Auditorium, Toronto June 16th 1974 No one seems to know - or is willing to say - why David Bowie has chosen to make a major North American tour but a year after his much-celebrated farewell to the concert grind. His management dismisses inquiries with a curt "the demand is there"; music biz scuttlebutt ranges from "he needs the money" to "his ego won't let him stop until he's conquered America." Whatever his reasons, the stage show Bowie has put together for this tour is intelligent, creative and entertaining. "TheaTour" is what he calls it and it carries visual effects several steps beyond their heretofore supportive role at rock concerts. In "TheaTour" the props and settings are almost more important than the music. Bowie's interactions with his props were an important aspect of the Toronto show from the first note, when he entered center stage to the glare of a white-hot spotlight and the opening strains of "1984". The stage itself was a visual portrayal of that future scene, with massive paper skyscrapers reflecting the damage of a fictitious thermonuclear blast. With "Rebel Rebel" the initial fascination with Bowie's immense stage persona wore off enough to allow the other performers to show up. The 8-piece band was off in a corner, a supportive role for sure, leaving the lion's share of the stage to Bowie, his self-designed props and two male vocalists who served as backup singers and visual foils, pantomiming the scenes Bowie was lyrically portraying.   Props became increasingly elaborate as the show progressed. Bowie sang "Changes" from high atop a mock bridge, donned boxing gloves in a mock ring for "Panic In Detroit" and cavorted on top of and in a massive mirror-and-blacklight capsule for "Big Brother" and "Time". A particularly emotional moment came during "Space Oddity" as Bowie was slowly lowered from high atop a pinnacle to a position hovering over the crowd as the mellotron and echoplexed guitar let fly with a barrage of space-aged sounds. Despite a touch of laryngitis, Bowie's vocals were strong and steady through the performance, his stage movements graceful and self-assured. And for musicians so obviously relegated to backup status, his band played quite assertively, particularly on a powerful, no-holds-barred version of "Suffragette City." He did just about every song he's made even remotely famous, finishing with "Rock'n'Roll Suicide." In his wake Bowie left 3500 people marveling at the professionalism of a show that transcended rock & roll ("It was more like a Broadway musical," said one observer). And though the crowd's occasionally tumultuous roar of approval lasted well over six minutes, there was no encore. GORDON FLETCHER The Boston Globe 18 July 1974 - Bowie’s blitz The six-inch platform shoes made it difficult for the woman to maneuver though the crowd. She pressed on, however, inching closer to the Music Hall ticket-taker. On her face was painted a red lightning bolt, bordered with glittering silver dust. “Dahr-ling,” she said, “please give me the half that says BOWIE on it.” The attraction, of course, was British trendsetter David Bowie and the 4200 people who turned out for his Boston appearance Tuesday night arrived in appropriate trappings: silver lame, black leather, Panama hats and numerous Art Deco variations. Blue denim was the exception. Bowie’s “retirement” last summer provided him with an opportunity to work without the Spiders from Mars, the futuristic group that included lead guitarist Mick Ronson, the glamorous blond, who has been replaced by Earl Slick, late of New York Rock Ensemble, and a battery of musicians who, unlike the Spiders, linger far in the background. Bowie has been known to make as many as two dozen costume changes in a single show. He has abandoned this practice and instead relies more on dazzling lighting effects and mime. A master of motion, he darts from one side of the stage to the other, gesticulating with deceptive grace, his carrot-orange hair accentuating the bizarre scene. Opening with “1984,” his own demented vision of urban decay, Bowie wastes no time in generating the familiar churning musical momentum. Behind him is a disturbing, surrealistic mock-up of high-rise society: skyscrapers oozing blood, a subway platform that silently rises high above the stage.   “Ground Control to Major Tom…” intones Bowie from somewhere off stage. The opening line from “Space Oddity” has the crowd on its toes, stretching for a glimpse of the ill-fated astronaut that Bowie introduced in his first big hit five years ago. Suddenly, the wound atop the building at stage right opens and for several seconds it appears Bowie is floating in space. A crane lowers him slowly as he recites the chilling tale of extraterrestrial death. The frantic pacing continues with “Diamond Dogs,” the title cut from his latest album, “Rock’n’Roll with Me” leads directly into “Suffragette City,” “All The Young Dudes,” “Jean Genie” and the eerie “Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family.” He dons bright red boxing gloves for a version of “Panic in Detroit” that substitutes some deliberately disorganized choreography for the searing instrumental urgency of the recorded version. Bowie plays sax, guitar, Moog and mellotron on his new album but didn’t pick up a single instrument during his hour-and-40 minute set. Listening to his new back-up musicians is a difficult adjustment after a half dozen albums with the now-departed Spiders. Ronson’s absence is particularly noticeable and seemed the primary topic of conversation among the departing audience. Bowie’s penchant for visual gimmicks has taken some of the edge off his music but he has succeeded where Alice Cooper and Jethro Tull have failed. The nagging question for him now is where to go from here. WILLIAM HOWARD     The New York Times 21 July 1974 - Bowie Puts on Lavish Show at Garden Glitter and Theatrics Reflect New Album David Bowie (or just Bowie, as he prefers to be known now) has been attacked with an uncommon, even hysterical fervor in certain sections of the rock press for his latest album, “Diamond Dogs.” Because I hardly found the disk all that offensive, and because one purpose of rock ‘n’ roll is to outrage, there was every reason to approach his live show Friday night at Madison Square Garden with whetted expectations. And those expectations weren’t entirely unfulfilled. The most disappointing thing, however, was not that Mr. Bowie was perverting rock ‘n’ roll or falling short of his own earlier standards, but that he hadn’t yet begun to realize his own potential as a man of the theater. Mr. Bowie’s first records, back in the mid-nineteen sixties, showed a hesitant rocker indeed. His real roots seemed to lie in the British music hall and the Continental cabaret song, with a strong twist of Marcel Marceau mime thrown into the balance. By the late sixties, however, Mr. Bowie had emerged as a real rock ‘n’ roll star, albeit a rather extraterrestrial one. Ever since his hit, “Space Oddity,” he has stuck close to the themes of science-fantasy as a metaphor for teen-age rock alienation and the drug experience. It is an evocative set of themes, if you respond to them all, and Mr. Bowie’s songs – both words and music – have a real potency to them, even the maligned surrealistic-nihilistic “Diamond Dogs” LP. But Mr. Bowe has always been much more than a freaky android rock star. He is best known, of course, as a self-professed bisexual glitter-theater wizard. Glitter and rock theatrics are by no means identical, of course. But in recent years they have become inextricably entwined. Glitter, on the one hand, is the principal fashion and (fantasy?) life-style of a large minority of young people mostly in such centers as London, New York and Los Angeles. You don’t have to be homosexual or bisexual to be a glitterer, although it may help. Sparkling platform shoes, eccentric make-up, lots of feathers are today’s answer to the rebellious black leather jackets of yesteryear. Theatrics is simpler to understand, and marginally less controversial. More and more rock hands have lost interest in the more bovine kind of concert, wherein bands stand in stoned stolidity and just play. Glitter is either a portent of the future sexual norm, an overhyped fad or a moral scourge, depending on where you sit. Theatrics is either the wave of the rock future or a pretentious distortion of rock’s musical basics and an admission of musical failure, depending on how you hear. In combing the two, so assertively, Mr. Bowie has assured himself a prominent place in our attentions. His place isn’t prominent enough to be a super super-star, however, at least not quite yet. “Diamond Dogs” was No. 5 with a bullet on the Billboard chart last Monday, but it is hardly an automatic, long-lasting No. 1. And Madison Square Garden wasn’t quite sold out Friday (the second show, last night, had been announced first and was reportedly a sell-out) – even after a barrage of advertisements. Those who came got a pretty lavish show. Mr. Bowie has a good band behind him, including two agile dancer-chorus members, and he sounded in remarkably good voice, considering the rigors of a tour. His repertory was built around the new album, but dipped freely back into his past repository of songs. Mr. Bowie himself looked very good and moved very well indeed. He is modishly emaciated, and his dyed orange-red, shagged hair frames a face quite perfect as either a man’s or woman’s. He has a dancer’s body and a fashion model’s way with clothes. The set ad lighting, too, were craftily planned, full of elevator platforms, scaffoldings and extending booms, and holding a variety of movable props. The 100 minute production was tightly executed and reasonably well-paced, and if spontaneity was in short supply, professionalism and energetic precision almost made up for it. But there was one problem, and it was a big one. For all his theatricality, Mr. Bowie failed quite completely to build his show toward a big finale. For all the momentary appeal of the effects and the short-range success of the pacing, there was little coherence to the evening. A routine would end, a special effect would unfurl, and then tension would snag and snap. When Mr. Bowie can offer us an evening-long rock-theatrical entity to match his technical expertise and his conceptual ambitions, we may really have something. Until then, for all the striking incident and over-all aura, he is just fussing around, however gaudily. JOHN ROCKWELL New York Daily News 22 July 1974 – David Bowie Satisfies Freaky Fans David Bowie, that Englishman with the orange hair and the freaky clothes, is considered an important enough musical Influence now for his promoters to present him simply as "Bowie, as in "Dylan." Bowie’s songs have been taken up by a generation who like to perceive themselves as ravaged youth, defiant rebels against depersonalizing, disintegrating culture. His song on this theme, 'All the Young Dudes: written for the Mott the Hoople group, immediately brought them a recognition that had eluded them before. His place as a creative artist in the rock world is well deserved, as illustrated by the show he gave this weekend at Madison Square Garden utilizing material from his new album, “Diamond Dogs," as well as earlier songs. The kids from the Bowie camp turned out in homage to him with dyed, chopped-cut hair, satin pants, feather boas, top hats and other glitter paraphernalia. Bowie himself was dressed simply, passing up the parade of stagey costumes he's used in the past to appear in a double-breasted suit with a plain blue pullover shirt. He also concentrated on vocals this time, setting aside his guitar and saxophone. He was accompanied by an eight-man group, placed on one side of the stage to leave an open playing area for his performance, presented against a setting of expressionistic skyscrapers. However, some excellent guitar and piano work was allowed to take the center of attention occasionally. Amplifiers were kept to the rear, giving the audience an unobstructed view of the action.   In keeping with Bowie's aim for theatrical professionalism, Broadway's Jules Fisher was hired to supervise production and lighting. When Bowie did "Space Oddity" (". . . ground control to Maj. Tom. . ."), he entered a cubicle on a catwalk above the stage and a hydraulic lift lowered him on a seat above the front rows. For a new song, "Big Brother," he sat atop a large mirrored revolving structure, which opened to show a constellation of moving lights inside. Two men billed as "dogs" assisted in occasional auxiliary vocals and in the frequent pantomimes Bowie used to illustrate songs. Pantomime is a British theatrical tradition. Despite the prevailingly heavy themes of his songs, Bowie tempers them with humor, as in a section where he danced with the “dogs," doing the bump. The sound system could have done better by the vocals, but then obscure lyrics are a vital part of hard rock. All in all, it was an exciting, satisfying show. ERNEST LEOGRAN