David Bowie • “Heroes” from “Welcome to the Blackout” • Recorded at Earls Court, London on June 30th 1978 • Produced by David Bowie and mixed by David Bowie and David Richards January 17th - 22nd 1979
David Bowie – vocals, keyboards
Carlos Alomar – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
George Murray – bass, backing vocals
Dennis Davis – drums, percussion
Adrian Belew – lead guitar, backing vocals
Simon House – violin
Sean Mayes – piano, string ensemble, backing vocals
Roger Powell – synthesizer, keyboards, backing vocals
Earls Court, London • July 30th 1978 • From the LWT David Bowie Special, broadcast July 1978 & South of Watford David Bowie Special • 1983
Dallas Convention Centre, Texas • April 10th 1978 • From David Bowie Live on Stage RCA promo video
The David Bowie Isolar II 1978 World Tour, also known as The Low / Heroes World Tour or The Stage Tour, hit London forty years ago, this week. Three nights were played at the Earls Court Arena, 29th & 30th of June & the 1st of July.
The Earls Court shows we’re hailed as a triumph. In July ’78, the NME published Nick Kent’s review of the Earls Court show, which ended with, “That shimmering sizzle, that fizzy brilliance that is undeniably attuned to Bowie's work, was all there on Thursday. It impressed me, it entertained me and very occasionally had me almost spell-bound. It was a total success.”
Commerce and Art
Fans are puzzled and frustrated at the lack of official or good-quality Bowie concert material from his golden years. One would have thought with Bowie’s ever increasing fan-base - many of whom have realised that virtually everything the man did in the 70’s is of great importance - management, record labels, copyright holders and custodians of “rare” footage, would be falling over themselves to release their material. Having closely studied this situation in recent years, I understand somewhat the difficulties surrounding the issue. Nevertheless, my conclusion is that the aforementioned holders of these holy grails are either lazy, selfish or loveless, and can see no advantage to themselves, and only complexities, in releasing the material. So therefore, tremendously valuable work is kept on the shelf, in some cases literally rotting away. The Individuals who hold the material, with no intention of releasing it anytime soon, should know that they are participating in one of the great art crimes of the age.
And so it falls to enthusiasts such as myself to try to pull together the meager crumbs that are out there, in an attempt serve the vast appetite this emptiness has produced.
It’s fortunate for us that Parlophone has had the class and intelligence to produce the great new album, Welcome to the Blackout, and release it on the 40th anniversary of the shows themselves. In this month’s Mojo, the album gets a 5 star review, and David Buckley writes, “Brilliant throughout. Better than the official Stage... an essential purchase for Bowie fans”. I couldn’t agree more. For several years, semi-decent partial soundboard of the final night at Earls Court has been in circulation. But that recording didn’t prepare me for the brilliance of this new album. It was recorded live at Earls Court, by Tony Visconti, produced and mixed by Bowie himself and originally intended as the soundtrack for the aborted David Hemmings-directed STAGE movie.
The unfinished STAGE movie, the undigitised reels for which are to this day gathering dust at the Bowie archive, is perhaps the ultimate lost treasure of the Bowie cannon. For decades it’s been the subject of much speculation among fans, who are desperate to see it.
So with my video - basically a remake of the video I made two years ago youtu.be/1Sq6_NVrKes - is at least a small taste of how the film might be. The combination of the magnificent version of “Heroes” from Welcome to the Blackout, and the decent footage from the same show, shot by the LWT crew, is I think one of the best documents we have from the ‘78 tour.
There is in existance, a perfect HD digital transfer of the LWT material. I have tried various ways, to try to get hold of a copy, including offering to license it. I have also tried to engage the license holders in a meaningful conversation about it, but alas all to no avail. And so instead what we have here is a matrix I’ve cobbled together of 7 different versions of the footage that I’ve collected over the years. All versions are incomplete, and contain considerable glitches. With the combination of all these versions, there is still about 30 seconds of footage missing from the performance. You may decide for yourself, if I’ve convincingly got around that issue.
More videos to follow, so please keep your electric eye on me babe!
I don't own the rights, and I'm not making any money out of this etc.
Just a fan making videos for other fans.
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