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Bowie at the Hammersmith, 2002

A few days ago I posted a recording from a CD that I had previously never heard of called, By Popular Demand. That’s a live album from Bowie’s 1990 Sound and Vision tour, which was conceived of as his last greatest hits tour. Back then, I saw the concert in Hartford. The idea was that Bowie was going to perform his most familiar songs one last time before moving on. This video from 2002 shows that the idea didn’t hold, and the location harkens back to another concert where he made a similarly short-lived promise. This concert from the time he was promoting Heathen, much as with the recently video I posted of a concert he did at Montreux. I saw Bowie in 2002, too, and I liked him both years. That said, the more recent mix of familiar and new (at the time) was the right balance.

The Montreux concert more heavily features songs from Heathen early on in the concert, so this one is starts out closer to a traditional greatest hits concert, but he ends up doing almost all of Heathen.

The Hammersmith, formally the Hammersmith Odeon, is the site of Bowie’s 1973 concert captured in the film, Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture, where he surprised his audience by announcing it would be the last show he (actually, “we”) would ever do. What he kind of meant was that it was the last show he’d ever do as Ziggy Stardust, but even that was not entirely true (The 1980 Floor show was yet to come). Anyway, in this 2002 concert Bowie makes several references to his prior appearance, and near the end of the show began to slowly repeat his famous lines, “Not only is this the last show of the tour. But this is the last show we’ll ever do…on the day of a fucking Tube strike!” It was a joke that connected two moments in time, but it made me laugh more than two decades later. Then he broke into “Moonage Daydream” reminding everyone that he was David Bowie.

Much as was the case with Montreux, this was an exceptional concert. I’m grateful that I was around to see him perform at this stage in his career.

The audio quality of this video is fine, though the video was obviously captured on someone’s hand-held camera and isn’t nearly as good as the obviously professionally filmed Montreux concert. Nonetheless, Bowie sounds good and it’s worth hearing.

I plan to write on By Popular Demand probably next week.

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