The Time I Cried At A David Bowie Show

by - April 19, 2022

Photo courtesy of Dana Gorab

It has to be said upfront: I cried at all David Bowie concerts I was lucky enough to witness, and I was fortunate enough to attend quite a few of them. The first was in 1987 on the rather ill-fated Glass Spider Tour. By that time I had been an avid fan for four years, ever since my sister bought the album Let’s Dance, which got me hooked from the scratchy guitar intro of the opening song, “Modern Love”. I was still a child back then, but immediately knew that Bowie was the gate to something bigger. So I started digging into his back catalogue and also the oeuvre of his friends and collaborators he would always be keen to mention in interviews to boost their exposure: Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. Through them, I got into the disciples of this Sacred Triangle such as Psychedelic Furs, Joy Division, Echo & The Bunnymen and ABC. It’s fair to say that without Bowie I would possibly be listening to Top 40 radio and wasting away in some dull office job.

When the man announced he would be touring the better part of 1987 after four years off the road, the excitement was enormous. We got tickets for the show on July 1 at Vienna’s Prater Stadion, and in the weeks before the show, anticipation would build to an almost unbearable extent. Come the day of the concert, and you’d find me by the gates as early as 10:30 in the morning. It was probably the hottest day of the year, and my skinny 14-year-old self struggled not to faint until the doors finally opened at 17:00. From then on, another two hours to go until the forgettable local support band and another four until Bowie’s grand entrance.

And suddenly there he was, abseiling from the stage top - remember, the tour was called Glass Spider for a reason, with the stage resembling a giant spider - and I couldn’t hold back the tears. There he finally was, the man I had been idolizing since I was 10, live on stage right in front of me. He looked a bit ludicrous in the red suit and this awful mullet-cum-quiff haircut, but who cares! It was Bowie for Christ’s sake! I remember I managed to recompose myself after the first thrust of emotions, but tears would roll again during “All The Madmen”, “Heroes” and “Absolute Beginners”. I vividly remember so many details from this show it’s ridiculous. Though it’s fair to say the album Never Let Me Down and the Glass Spider Tour were not Bowie’s most glorious moments, I’ll forever cherish the memories of that night.

I would see Bowie many more times and in much better artistic shape. The Sound+Vision greatest hits tour, Tin Machine - yes, I really love this band - Outside and Earthling tours in the 90s, Heathen and Reality tours in the 00s… Bowie always put his heart into the performance, whether it was in a small club or in a huge stadium. Of course, the most Bowie-related tears I shed was on January 10, 2016, when he unexpectedly shuffled off this mortal coil. The memories of our first in-person encounter on July 1, 1987 remain.

- CP Fletcher, frontman of A Permanent Shadow

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