Thursday, September 18, 2008

GMVW # 37: "Mojo (and lack-thereof)"

Gem Music Video of the Week # 37:  Mojo (and lack-thereof)
Song:  Blue Jean by David Bowie
(Songwriter: David Bowie)
September 18, 2008

Foxboro Stadium, 1983: Part 2 of 3

The 2nd show to come rolling into Foxboro in the late summer/early fall of 1983 was David Bowie.  Bowie was on his ‘Serious Moonlight’ tour.  It was a tremendous show.  Bowie had all his ducks in a row in those days.  Over the 10 previous years, it seemed he was on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine every other month.  Bowie was intelligent and intellectual, traits the magazine loved for a cover article.  On top of that he had a boat load of talent. Like Mick
Jagger, Bowie also had the rare charismatic personality to pull off a big stage event (unlike Jagger, he did not need to be in a permanent band to pull it off).   

A major reason why David Bowie is so successful is that he is constantly morphing his music and stage act. His stage personas have included Ziggy Stardust, the Thin White Duke and others.  Tour after tour, including the Serious Moonlight tour, his evolution as a musician and stage presence was flawless. 

However, this is a tale of not one, but 2 concert tours.  Four years after Serious Moonlight, Bowie embarked on his ’87 Glass Spider Tour.  To say the tour was over the top and grandiose would be an understatement.  It was the Titanic movie of concert tours (or better yet, Waterworld), complete with an 80 foot tall giant glass spider.  It made little sense, and proved to be Bowie’s <temporary> downfall.

There can be a number of reasons why a show (or tour) does not connect with an audience but it all comes down to the musician, the ticket holder, or a combination of both.  For whatever reason, the musician could be off:  After years of success, they could find themselves in the predicament of having their priorities flipped.  The audience can usually sense this. As for the individuals in attendance, they could be off too.  People get cynical:  “What is he/she trying to prove up there anyway?”   “He’s only in it for the money!”  Other amazing concert memories fade away.  People move on.

Nancy and I attended the ’87 Glass Spider tour (also in Foxboro) and we left with a sense of disappointment.  For Nancy, it was the first step to shunning large shows, favoring the intimacy of smaller night clubs and festivals.  For me, it had me scratching my head at first….was it the end of the road for enjoying big concert events (I didn’t want it to be)?  Was this show supposed to be good (i.e. was Bowie enjoying it)?  Was I getting too old and cynical?!?  I’d seen it happen to many others my age.  What made me any different?

Not much can tear a performer like David Bowie down.  Unlike many Rock n Roll musicians, he appears to have a tremendous amount of self control.  For others, life on the road can take its toll (as chronicled in earlier gems).  Eventually for Bowie, however, it came down to the Icarus effect (and, no, I don’t mean Bec & Dave’s aptly named pet cockatail).  Bowie tried to soar too high.  He got burned.  He admitted this after the tour.  In an interview with Rolling Stone in '88, he divulged a conversation he had had with a close friend during the tour who asked him: “What are you doing?”  Bowie’s response: “I don’t know!”

Thank goodness for David Bowie’s honesty. If not for reading that interview, I may have missed out on some tremendous big events down the road.  Nancy is right, however.  It’s so hard for audience and artist to connect at a large event.  Bruce Springsteen and many others have lamented that fact.  It takes a lot to pull it off.  Fortunately, I’ve seen it work more often than not.  As for Bowie, he soon did a total about face, and proceeded to scale down big time.  He formed the band, Tin Machine (which included two of Soupy Sales sons), and took his name out as the headline.  Tin Machine toured at much, much smaller venues, and Bowie eventually found himself again.

Gem Music Video “Blue Jean” shows Bowie before the fall, not long after the Serious Moonlight Tour.   Thankfully, of the two sides of David Bowie I’ve seen, it’s this confident, priorities-in-order side that sticks with me.

Speaking of big shows, Mac and I are going to see the Who on October 24 and Mac has 2 spare tickets.  Is anyone game?

 “One day, I’m going to write a poem in a letter.
 One day, I’m going to get that faculty together”

- Pete

Gem Music Video: Blue Jean

Speaking of blue jean(s), does anyone remember this commercial?

About the video: Blue Jean (Alternate version for MTV) 1984 / Rest of World – Jones Music America/RZO Music Ltd.  Directed by Julien Temple

Video Rating: 1


Best Feedback: Fred

Glass Spider was THE concert that soured me on big hit the nail on the head.  AGAIN

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