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Jun 29 2018

David Bowie – Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78)

David Bowie - Live Earls Court 1978 (digitalspy.com)

David Bowie – Live Earls Court 1978

Albumdata

Artist David Bowie
Album Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78)
Year of release 2018

Rating

Introduction

Welcome To the Blackout (Live London ’78) presents the best of two shows at Earls Court, London. Both shows were filmed as well and some of the footage shot on those two days was shown on British television.

Announcement

On May 16th, 2018 the following was announced on davidbowie.com:

The new releases begin with the CD and digital debut of Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78). This live album features performances recorded at Earls Court in London on 30 June and 1 July, 1978 during Bowie’s “Isolar 2” Tour. The music was released earlier this year on vinyl as a strictly limited-edition triple-LP set for Record Store Day 2018.

Tony Visconti, who co-produced a dozen studio albums for Bowie throughout his career, recorded the 1978 concert which was later mixed by Bowie and David Richards.

The set naturally focuses on songs from the two albums Bowie released in 1977 – Low and “Heroes” as well as other earlier career highlights such as “Fame”, “Ziggy Stardust”, “The Jean Genie” and “Station To Station” and the first ever live performance of “Sound And Vision”, included in this set was its debut live performance. Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78) will be available as a two-CD set as well as digitally for download and streaming in both standard and high-definition versions.

© 2018 davidbowie.com

I have waited a long time for a release like this. Today it was finally made available on CD. This is a mandatory purchase for all music lovers!

David Bowie - 1978 Live (onvacations.co)

David Bowie – 1978 Live

Isolar 2

The concerts were part of the Isolar 2 Tour that was organized in 1978. The tour was divided in four parts:

  • USA: March 29th until May 9th
  • Europe: May 14th until July 1st
  • Oceania: November 11th until December 2nd
  • Japan: December 6th until December 12th

The tour was primarily targeted at the two masterpieces David Bowie had released in 1977: Low and “Heroes”. Initially, Brian Eno was to be part of the touring band, but that unfortunately didn’t happen due to health issues. Carlos Alomar, who worked with Bowie since September of 1974, was the band leader and led the band rehearsals. The band had only two weeks (!) to prepare for the tour.

David Bowie - Isolar 2 - Stage setup and equipment (jpjaudio.com.au)

David Bowie – Isolar 2 – Stage setup and equipment

The set consisted of two parts. The first part emphasized the (superior) music of Low and “Heroes”. The second part of the set started with five/six songs from The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (the band had learned the complete album). The concerts were closed with songs from the 1976 album Station To Station. The encore was Rebel Rebel.

During the tour in 1976 (called Isolar) fluorescent neon lighting was introduced onto the stage. The concept was built upon for the new tour, which developed into a cage like construction with lighting. The lighting pulsated calmly during the slower, introspective songs and flashed wildly during the more uptempo songs.

According to several band members every concert of the tour was recorded for Bowie’s private use.

David Bowie - Isolar 2 Tour Programme (collections.vam.ca.uk/apoplife.nl)

David Bowie – Isolar 2 Tour Programme

Tour programme

The tour programme was a newspaper, designed by Bowie himself. The newspaper contained various photos, which were shot during the preceding years, including photos made while recording Low and “Heroes” with Brian Eno and The Idiot with Iggy Pop, complemented with photos from the movie Just A Gigolo.

Stage and (movie) recordings

David Bowie - Stage - Ad (rock-explosion.com)

David Bowie – Stage – Ad

The concerts on April 28th and 29th and May 5th and 6th (in Philadelphia, Providence and Boston) were recorded for the live double album Stage. Those nights the tempo of the songs was slightly slowed down. Perhaps one of the reasons Stage disappointed as a document. Potentially, this tour was the best Bowie had to offer and he was at the absolute top of his game and innovative spirit. Stage didn’t do justice to his status as performer and innovator. The songs sounded pale and not exciting at all.

Several concerts were professionally filmed. On April 10th a how in Dallas was filmed. Using the title David Bowie On Stage six songs from that show were aired on American television (What In The World, Blackout, Sense Of Doubt, Speed Of Life, Hang On To Yourself and Ziggy Stardust). The December 12th show in Tokyo was filmed and aired in the Japanese television show The Young Music Show.

David Bowie - Earls Court 1978 (tapatalk.com/picssr.com/polscoecottage.co.uk/apoplife.nl)

David Bowie – Earls Court 1978

Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78)

The June 30th and July 1st shows (40 years ago), at Earls Court in London, England, were filmed by David Hemmings. Some short fragments were broadcast in British television show The London Weekend Show. The movie hasn’t been released (yet).

The shows were professionally recorded as well by Bowie’s steady producer Tony Visconti using a mobile RCA unit. At these shows Sound And Vision was performed live for the very first time. The recordings were mixed by Bowie and David Richards at the Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland from January 17th until 22nd. Be My Wife and Sound And Vision were remixed at a later time by John Prestage for the compilation album RarestOneBowie, which was released in 1995.

David Bowie - Welcome To The Blackout (Live London '78) (velvetmusic.nl)

David Bowie – Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78)

To commemorate Record Store Day on April 21st, 2018, Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78) was released on vinyl as a limited edition. On June 29th, 2018, it was released on compact disc and made available for download.

Is this release better than Stage then? Sure it is! Both releases can not be compared. Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78) comes highly recommended. A perfect representation of where Bowie was at, at the time. The songs are more dynamic, Bowie’s voice is strong and the band is at its peak. The pleasure and force is audible and it’s a joy to listen to.

Highlights abound: “Heroes”BlackoutSound And VisionFive Years and TVC15. But I shouldn’t name them, I sell the rest short.

Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78) is an essential addition to Bowie’s discography and is indispensable for everyone who (like me) regards the Berlin trilogy as the most interesting, relevant, and innovative period of Bowie’s career.

Just like the release of Cracked Actor a year ago, this album also is a primary example for the way to treat the legacy of an artist of his caliber.

Review 1978

The review shown below is part of the Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78) release. At the time, it was published in the newspaper Evening News:

Boxing Bowie’s the champion of rock.

David Bowie - Live 1978 (onvacations.co)

David Bowie – Live 1978

David Bowie returned to the London stage last night with a show that confirms him as Britian’s top rock star.

For more than two hours he mesmerised 17,000 fans at Earls Court with songs that ranged from early rockers such as ‘Suffragette City’ to his latest stark instrumental work.

Wearing a yellow shirt with blue tunic and trousers, the 31-year old star moved around the stage like a boxer limbering up.

He wiggled, danced and jumped in front of blinding white neon lights as his six-piece band pumped out some of the best rock music around.

Bowie dared to experiment with the heavily-synthesised sounds from his last two albums Low and Heroes.

But he also knew his two-year absence had left the fans craving for the songs he made famous in the early ’70’s. And in the second half of his show he gave it to them.

‘Five Years’, ‘Soul Love’ and ‘Hang On To Yourself’ had the capacity audience on their feet to welcome home their blond-haired hero.

Above all it was Bowie’s supreme confidence as a performer that helped reaffirm his status as a world class rock and roller.

As he danced from one side of the stage to the other, utilising all his talents as a former mime artist, he turned into the Pied Piper of rock until the whole audience were on their feet cheering.

The three encores of ‘TVC 15’, ‘Stay’ and ‘Rebel Rebel’, where he donned a sailor’s hat, only added to his impact.

Without a doubt David Bowie is the most innovative rock star Britain has produced in the ’70’s  and with the three shows he’s currently playing in London he’s proving to be a polished and confident performer.

He may also prove the biggest rock star we have who’s actually moving into the ’80’s.

© David Hancock, Evening News, June 30th, 1978

Songs

David Bowie - Welcome To The Blackout (Live London '78) - Innersleeve (davidbowieworld.nl)

David Bowie – Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78) – Innersleeve

  • Warszawa
  • “Heroes”
  • What In The World
  • Be My Wife
  • The Jean Genie
  • Blackout
  • Sense Of Doubt
  • Speed Of Life
  • Sound And Vision
  • Breaking Glass
  • Fame
  • Beauty And The Beast
  • Five Years
  • Soul Love
  • Star
  • Hang On To yourself
  • Ziggy Stardust
  • Suffragette City
  • Art Decade
  • Alabama Song
  • Station To Station
  • TVC15
  • Stay
  • Rebel Rebel
David Bowie - 1978 - Playing the chamberlin (soniceditions.com)

David Bowie – 1978 – Playing the chamberlin

Personnel

  • David Bowie – vocals, chamberlin (precursor to the mellotron)
  • Adrian Belew – lead guitar, background vocals
  • Carlos Alomar – rhythm guitar, background vocals
  • George Murray – bass, background vocals
  • Dennis Davis – drums, percussie
  • Roger Powell – keyboards, Moog Taurus bass pedals, synthesizer, background vocals
  • Sean Mayes – piano, ARP String Ensemble (synthesizer), background vocals
  • Simon House – electric violin

Production by Tony Visconti. Post production mix by David Bowie and David Richards, except Be My Wife and Sound And Vision, which were mixed by John Prestage.

In closing

What do you think of this album? As impressive as I think it is? Let me know!

 

Compliments/remarks? I´d love to hear them!