Be Yourself, Everybody Else Is Taken

If there is one thing that forty years on planet earth has taught me, it’s so very important to just be yourself!  The other night, Sunday evening to be precise, I opened a can of worms with my personal thoughts on feminism and American sailors.  Long story short, it upset a number of people and led to me being sent multiple messages wishing me a slow and painful death by cancer, mental illness, plane crashes, ill health towards my family and finally, just general wishes that I would die.

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Would I dare retract my original views?  Never!  Why?  Because they are part of my belief system and what I am about.  Of course it’s not expected that we will always agree with what everyone else thinks, feels or believes but in 2017, we are faced more than ever before with the classic mob mentality.  People have been driven so far into the realms of stupidity by way of television, bling and the mainstream news that they are forgetting to not only think for themselves but, respect other views and opinions without resorting to wishing cancer and death upon those people who come from differing views and feelings.  We should however, be encouraging multiple points of view and warming to the idea of discussing topics without things going sour.

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The sad part of Sunday nights discussion, debate or whatever it turned into, is that it was reduced to some people pointing out the number of “likes” particular points of view were obtaining.  That alone reinforces the mob mentality attitudes of so many people in society today.  Social media users feel vindicated when their comments are “liked” or “loved”.  For some, it can be the difference between a good day and a bad day.  Personally, I find this approach incredibly narcissistic and vein.  It should never matter how many “likes” you garner through the screen of a smart phone.  What should matter is that you hold firm to your beliefs and stop trying to be liked by everyone for the sake of being liked.  Our modern world is full of people who are easily offended.  They enshrine themselves within the confines of smart phones and tablets for their experiences.  More than ever before, benign TV shows (if you can call them that) attract the majority of our spare time, we live in an ever increasing society of obese people yet we have record numbers of health facilities opening up, our levels of credit card debt sit at all time highs (banks now earn more off credit card debt than home loan repayments) and we now judge a prospective partner by their looks ahead of everything else because we obsess far too much over what people will think of us.

We now have television shows where young woman and men attempt to become famous for sweet fuck all.  No talent.  No ability.  Just an urge to be famous for nothing.  How did it get to this?  Any why do so many people get sucked in?  Is it because they want to be like those they see on the idiot box?  Take the new season of Channel Ten’s reality show, The Bachelor.  In 2017 we have woman trying to outdo one another by wearing less and less and sabotaging any remaining shreds of intelligence they may have possessed because The Bachelor is a vehicle for fame.  Even if it only lasts a short while.  Worse still, are the docile men who actually think the plethora of woman they are courting actually want a long lasting relationship with them.  So where did it go wrong again?

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I’ve got news for you.  Things started going wrong for many of us when we started thinking too much about what other people thought of us.  People today are always looking for acceptance.  A recent study in the U.K found that almost half of the population feel depressed when their social media posts fail to garner the expected number of likes they were initially hoping for.  Why give a fuck about how many people like your mirror selfie?  It doesn’t matter what other people think.  What matters is who you are as a person.

My flat mate holds the firm opinion that I enjoy stirring the pot on social media because I get kicks out of it.  I’ll never be able to convince her otherwise because that is how she feels and, whilst she could not be further from the truth, I respect her beliefs 100%.  In reality, I like to encourage people to think outside the square.  I enjoy seeing people look at things other than the perspective they are fed through the mainstream media.  Most of all, I enjoy seeing people think for themselves and not going with the mob mentality opinions because the mob is more often than not, way off the mark.  Of course, I could post photos of my coffee (difficult because I don’t actually drink the stuff), cat videos or selfies in the mirror at the gym (I have never had a gym body) but that’s not me.  So please, stop judging your success by the number of “likes” on social media.  Judge yourself by your ability to step outside the square to be yourself and nobody else.  It’s the only way to be!

 

31 NEW Albums in 31 Days

So, we move onto batch number three and what a mixed bag it was.  This collection of albums covered the absolute dire (Katy Perry) to the sublime in experimental (Sonic Youth) with a little bit of everything in between as well for good measure.  I’m at the halfway mark of this experiment and it is turning into a really cool one which is opening me up to so much wonderful music.  You really can never stop allowing your mind to explore new things.  Enjoy!

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TITLE: Astrid Gilberto  – Gilberto with Turrentine

RELEASED: 1971

HIGHEST CHART POSITION: N/A

Astrid Gilberto is one of my favorite samba and bossa nova singers.  In 1971, she teamed up with American saxophonist, Stanley Turrentine to record a delicately cute record of cover versions of then well known numbers.  Gilberto has a plethora of albums to explore from a career that has spanned over fifty long years!  If you ever get a spare Sunday morning then, may I suggest you put some Astrid Gilberto on your Spotify and allow yourself to be swept up by one of the most beautiful voices you will ever hear!

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TITLE: Jacques Brel – Chansons ou Versions Inédites de Jeunesse

RELEASED: September 23 2003

HIGHEST CHART POSITION: N/A

Chansons ou Versions Inédites de Jeunesse is a collection of early recording from 1953/54 that captures a raw and edgy Jacques Brel before he hit his straps.  There is a distinct energy on this release, disc number 16 of a massive retrospective box set that came out in 2003 to celebrate the life and music of Brel, born in Belgium yet famous for his French compositions and cover versions. Brel passed away in 1978 at the tender age of 48.  One can only imagine what other wonders he would have released had he lived another thrity years or so.  Brel is a most splendid singer and his husky vocals are unlike anything else I have ever heard.  

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TITLE: Katy Perry – Witness

RELEASED: 9 June 2017

HIGHEST CHART POSITION: Number 1

If there is an album that qualifies for “worst album of all time” then this is it!  I have absolutely nothing kind to say about this over produced, grim 80’s rip off of an album.  Naturally, it charted all over the world because, let’s face it, too many people listen to horse shit music and “Witness” is worse than horse shit music.  I can’t even begin to describe just how bad it is.  I guess, if you are a mentally challenged teenager incapable of thinking for yourself then “Witness” is the record for you.  Otherwise, consider the listening experience to be a painful one at best.  Perry tries to rip off the 80’s look with a rather poor album cover and the music inside the album is best left for elevator music.  Yes, it is that dire!

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TITLE: Sonic Youth – Washing Machine

RELEASED: 26 September 1995

HIGHEST CHART POSITION: 39

Yet another “classic” album that I should have listened to by now.  As far as records go, “Washing Machine” is one of the most adventurous, creative and challenging records produced in the 90’s.  Actually, make that the past 40 years.  It oozes class and dignity from the opening bars of “Becuz” all the way through to “The Diamond Sea”.  The record was made at Easley Studios in Memphis during the early months of 1995 and has gone on to become an album everyone needs to hear at some point in their life.  Thankfully, that moment has arrived now for me.

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TITLE: Queens of The Stone Age – …Like Clockwork

RELEASED: 3 June 2013

HIGHEST CHART POSITION: 1

Queens Of The Stone Age are a band whom I have always admired but failed to fully explore their back catalogue of albums on offer.  I know they are all good because the right friends have made the right noises about them over the years so listening to “…Like Clockwork” was a lot of fun from beginning to end.  The record was a long time coming and at one point, Trent Reznor was going to assume the producing role.  Sadly, he didn’t.  Still, this didn’t stop QOTSA from producing one of the best albums I have heard in many years.  Off the back of this alone, I will now look to explore the remainder of an extraordinary legacy.

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TITLE: The The – Soul Mining

RELEASED: 21 October 1983

HIGHEST CHART PLACING: 27

Over the years, I had heard a lot of hype about this album and to be honest, I felt disappointed by the time it finished last Sunday morning.  It’s even listed in the book, “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die”  and garnered treasured positions in the many best albums of the 1980’s lists.  Perhaps, I just couldn’t “get” the songs contained within?  Either way, it’s a record I may try and revisit but i’m not sure if that will change my original point of view?

 

LFC Announce Shock Change To YNWA!

Liverpool Football Club are set to announce a shock move by committing to an overhaul of  “You’ll Never Walk Alone” for the impending 2017/18 season.  In light of the BBC’s recent decision to plonk up with a female time lord, LFC has taken steps for a radical change that will see Beyonce Knowles record a new and improved version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” to be played before kick off at all home matches.  It is believed the BBC found Jodie Whittaker to be the best man, sorry, woman for the role as the new Doctor Who due to her ambitious auditions over consecutive weeks.

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New Liverpool CEO, Peter Moore told a gathering of reporters at Melwood today that he is looking to follow in the footsteps of the BBC and steer the club in a new direction to appease the female fans who feel that club is still stuck in the past and clinging to long held traditions whilst bringing woman to the fore in an otherwise male dominated sport.

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Moore confessed.

“You’ll Never Walk Alone has been a staple of the club for over 50 years and whilst we appreciate the impact that the Gerry & The Pacemakers version has had, Liverpool Football Club feels it is time to move on and we need to embrace the fantastic new R’n’B version Beyonce has given us to use before kick off at Anfield.”

He continued.

“I know this will upset many of our supporters but woman have an important part to play in football aside from their regular roles as WAGS.  It’s important we give equality to woman in football and Liverpool football club is making this happen.”

Supporters can expect Beyonce’s new version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” to be played before kick off when the reds take on Crystal Place at Anfield on Saturday August 19.  As an added bonus, everyone attending the match will receive their very own Beyonce face mask to wear on the day inside the ground.  It is understood that Jay-Z will produce the new version giving the classic anthem a more “modern and appealing sound” to ensure supporters feel like they have moved out of the 1960’s and into the modern age.

Why German Death Camps Are A Must See!

Take your minds back to March 1933.  Still a tick over six years off the invasion of Poland and subsequent war, Germany began to lay the stepping stones to their final solution.  Dachau concentration camp was opened up on March 22 and housed around 200 prisoners who were sent off every morning for forced labor.  As the years rolled by the camp saw a heavy increase in prisoners that included gypsy’s, blacks, homosexuals and other misfits that began to also include Jews.  In 1942, Dachau became infamouse for the shooting of over 4,000 Soviet troops which was a clear two fingered salute to the Geneva Convention.

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Whilst there were no mass killings of Jews, it was still a place that sent shivers through my spine in February 2010 as I walked the grounds and deserted buildings.  It was a typical cold German afternoon when I took the bust from Munich out to the camp.  As you approach the camp, it hits you that the area is surrounded by residential housing.  During the war, locals would hang their washing out whilst prisoners were merely meters away in full view.  Unfortunately, even had any German residents felt an ounce of sympathy, they too would have been sent to a camp or shot on the spot.  I don’t think we realize just how bad things were which is why it is important to visit the many camps still littered around Europe. And Dachau was the prototype for the other camps that followed.

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On the day I visited, the snow fall was heavy, there was next to nobody there and that only led to a heightened sense of despair as I wandered through the cold buildings that once held thousands of prisoners.  There were interrogation rooms that still have remnants from the past in place.  Utterly frightening on so many levels.  Heinrich Himmler was the how do you say it?  Architect behind the camp.  It was designed to hold around 13,000 yet, when liberated by the American’s on May 1 1945, there were no less than 30,000 people held captive inside.  More than double its capacity.  Naturally, you can only imagine that there were little to no creature comforts for those enclosed.  Some of the rooms also include the original beds which would have to sleep up to three people at any time.  Singles beds mind.  The German guards would also take astute pleasure in midnight raids where they would wake up prisoners, strip them naked before taking them out into the cold winters snow and frost where they would have to dance like monkeys or fear being shot.  Often, once the guards had their fun, they would shoot the prisoners regardless for shits and giggles.  Hard to imagine how any human being could be so cruel?

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On the outer walls of the camp, you come to learn just how hard it would have been to escape.  Many of the buildings were destroyed after the war though there is still remnants of the fencing that surrounded the area.  Once outside the fence, you would have around 200 meters to run before the thick and dense forest.  The only problem being, potential escapees were picked off by German guards in the gun tarots that lined the outer walls of the camp essentially, giving you no chance to escape the clutches of the Nazi’s.  Thinking about these prospects, or lack of as I strolled around in the fading light, I guess it made me thankful for the life I lead.  Actually, the life most of us are fortunate enough to enjoy.

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At the end of the camps life, it is believed that over 23,000 people died during its operational period between 1933 and 1945.  All the Nazi camps are worth visiting for a multitude of reasons.  They should never be allowed to be forgotten because they are such an important part of our history and also our future.   Whilst you may think visiting these camps is a little morbid, it’s a reminder of what life was like and why we should never be supporting wars of any kind.

31 Albums in 31 Days (part two)

So the story continues.  Last week, I rounded up the first four albums of the month that I am listening to for the first time.  Today, it’s time to take a look at the next five, bringing the total to nine albums that I have never heard before.  I’ve got to say, this is one of the best things I have ever done.  And why not do it during my birthday month ey?  So here are the next handful of wonderful albums.

Kendrick Lamar – Damn

RELEASED: April 14 2017

HIGHEST CHART POSITION: 1

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I was watching a video clip show not too long ago and Kendrick Lamar pops up with his “Humble” video.  It was a pretty catchy song and rather interesting clip to boot.  I mean, how can you not resist a rapper hitting gold balls off the top of a car in the middle of nowhere right?  Off the back of this video, I decided to give his fourth and most recent number one selling album a crack and my word, what an impressive slice of work it is!

Lamar strikes me as a man who likes to create original ideas and concepts which is something too many artists today seem non-plussed about which is a great shame.  So, in step Lamar and off we go on a wild adventure that keeps the listener interested from beginning to the very end.  Off the back of this exceptional listening experience, I’m now keen to let my ears discover his previous three long play releases.  Cracking stuff so far Kendrick, cracking stuff old chap!

Rosemary Clooney & Duke Ellington – Blue Rose

RELEASED: May 21 1956

HIGHEST CHART POSITION: N/A

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We’ve moved on so far that often, we forget just how exhilarating the 1950’s was jazz music.  One of the many chief protagonists of this era was Duke Ellington and in early 1956, he teamed up with his orchestra and Rosemary Clooney to record a sublime collection of songs that made the final cut as “Blue Rose”.  The album was one of the first ever records to use overdubbing as a key component of the recording process which is now a normal part of the process for today’s albums.  Recorded in Janaurary at Columbia’s 30th Street Studio, “Blue Rose” has become synonymous with the period for both Ellington and Clooney.  It’s the kind of record you can put on during a lazy Sunday morning and appreciate all the beauty that is encompassed within.

Kate Miller-Heidke – Nightflight

RELEASED: 12 April 2012

HIGHEST CHART POSITION: 2

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Going back a while now, maybe 2011, I saw Kate Miller-Heidke perform at a local venue and, as the show unfolded, almost every single audience member jumped into the palm of her hand.  It was a truly majestically performance where each song had a prologue and her voice hit notes I had previously thought unimaginable for a pop star.  Then again, Miller_Heidke comes from a classical training background and also honed her skills as a soprano during her formative years.  The album itself is a work of astute beauty.  I guess you could label it pop music for intelligent people.  Is that too harsh on generic pop music fans?  Well, onwards and upwards which is exactly what Kate achieves in large doses with “Nightflight”.  How I missed this album the first time around is well and truly beyond me.

Neil Young – Storytone

RELEASED: 4 November 2014

HIGHEST CHART POSITION: 33

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Neil Young is still a gifted and progressive musician.  If I am being honest here, I wasn’t expecting a great deal from this album.  When released in late 2014, the critics kind of brushed over it which led me to think twice about buying a copy myself.  Looking back, I think I would have probably not enjoyed it as much then as I did on Sunday night when I heard it for the very first time.  My mind wasn’t perhaps in the right frame back then thought now, I hear so much more depth in music which fits perfectly with this record.

Following the release of “Storytone” and his subsequent marriage break down and burgeoning romance with his new partner, Daryl Hannah, Young stated: “These songs were written during a period of profound change in my life. Everything I want to share is there.”   Having been through a marriage breakdown myself, l felt a sense of deep reflection on where life has led me listening to this beautiful album

Hefner – The Fidelity Wars

RELEASED: 1999

HIGHEST CHART POSITION: failed to chart

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The second album from British band, Hefner has long been on my “to listen to” list.  We all have one of those right?  Well, after 18 years, I finally got around to listening to this quirky little release.  Not only that, I listened to the 2008 re-issue that included the original LP along with b-sides, demo and rehearsal material.  With 40 tracks, this was a long and joyous treat to my tender ears.

You see, Hefner are one of those bands everyone should listen to but almost nobody does.  Even the British radio stations brushed them back in the day and the music press slated them for the best part.  They are the band that I have enjoyed thoroughly from day dot so if I like them then chances are you will too because we all know I have impeccable taste in music right?  Jokes!  Anyway, I won’t wax lyrical about this one too much but to highly recommend you hook up with Hefner on Spotify and enjoy what too many people have been missing for a very long time.

 

Same Old Thing, In Brand New Drag…..

July 12 2017 can be listed as yet another date of disappointment for David Bowie fans around the world.  The third box set in a series of re-issues (yes, again) will hit stores at the end of September and once more, as with the previous two offerings from the Bowie estate, there is nothing new or exciting to look forward to aside from a pretty looking box and a book with liner notes from Tony Visconti.

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As expected, Bowie fans went into meltdown on social media when news of “A New Career In A New Town: 1977-1982” broke. The key selling points aside from the pretty packaging seem to be a new remix of “Lodger” from 1979 and “Stage”, a live album originally butchered, sorry, released in 1978 that needed a further 27 years before it was rectified and even then they still left important tracks off it.  “A New Career In A New Town: 1977-1982” captures the original 1978 butchered release on yellow vinyl and the almost rectified 2005 re-issue on black vinyl that now includes “Suffragette City” and “The Jean Genie”.  To be honest, i’m surprised Bowie’s estate didn’t release an alternative box with “Stage” on blue vinyl (depicted below) just to take the piss a little more knowing fans would probably buy two box sets to compensate the completest desires within.  Yes, some Bowie fans really are that gullible.  After all, in 1978 the album came out on both blue and yellow vinyl in Holland.  I’m now trying to be too much of a downer on there releases but I need to ask why?  Why are we getting the same material thrown at us time and again instead of being allowed into the world of the unknown, IE: the monumental catalogue of unreleased and rare material that still collects dust in the “vault”.

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One of the key selling points for these box sets has been the Recall extras that claim to include all known single edits, b-sides and other such anomalies.  With the original “Five Years” box set, they forgot to include “The Superman” which originally came out on the Glastonbury Fayre LP released in 1972.  This time, they have missed the boat again by leaving out the adorable “Revolutionary Song” that was released in Japan and also appeared on the “Just A Gigolo” OST.

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Frustratingly, we all know there is a plethora of material that remains unreleased.  And of course, there are the splendid Rykodisc extras which continue to be criminally ignored.  Only fools would dare to think the vaults have been exhausted.  April’s belated release of “Cracked Actor” was a small step in the right direction thought the ball was dropped big time with the omission of Dana Gillespie’s tracks on the beautifully packaged “BOWPROMO”.  Let’s also look at the recent release of “Art Decade”, an uncovered gem from the Perth show in 1978 as a fine example.  Who would have guessed that a respectable copy of this concert existed six months ago?  This points the finger squarely at the potential for so much more enjoyment for fans.

Sadly though, Parlaphone will continue to dress up the old material in fancy boxes and colored vinyl because, like Elvis fans following the King’s death in 1977, Bowie fans will keep buying these box sets, anniversary picture discs and endless supplies of albums we already own many times over on colored vinyl pressings because it’s what collectors do and Bowie’s estate knows this and will milk it to the hilt.  Let’s be brutally honest here, Bowie’s fan base is aging.  The younger fans predominantly listen to Bowie on Spotify so these re-issues are hardly going to appease them are they?  So where does that leave his older fans?

I didn’t buy the last box set and chances are, I won’t be spending my hard earned on this new rehash of material most of us already own.  It’s just the same old thing, in brand new drag after all and hardly a visionary release like the contents creator once was.

25 Years of Collecting Bowie: A Slice of The Pie

If you cast your mind back to 2004, February 17th to be exact, David Bowie played in Brisbane for the 5th and very last time.  In total, he would perform no less than 36 concerts over four separate tours in Australia between 1978 and 2004.  In the August of 2002, I’d been in the audience at The Jay Leno Show when Bowie and myself enjoyed a joke and short conversation during a break for adverts about coming to Australia.  He joked that he would pop over to mine for a BBQ and wear his Mambo shorts that he bought in Sydney whilst recording with Tin Machine many years before.

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Being a self promoting DJ at the time, I approached a venue in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley to host an after show party for Bowie gig on February 17th.   I didn’t really do much DJ’ing that night.  Essentially, I’d put together a batch of CD’s with Bowie tracks so we could all bask in the afterglow of the concert to the pulsing tunes of our idol.  The night turned out better than expected.  You see, the Brisbane Entertainment Center is a solid 30 minute train from the city so I was fearful that after the concert, most people would just go home and not be bothered about coming into town.  How wrong was I?

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Some 300 people came through the doors that night and it seemed everyone had a blast!  The atmosphere was sublime as we drank our way through to the early hours of the morning.  Not long before closing, two people came up to me to ask how the night went.  We chatted for a while before one of them reached into her bag and pulled out a funny looking book to hand me.  I was a bit miffed at first though it turned out to be a copy of Bowie’s pacific rim guide book.  A day by day detailed account of the cities, accommodation, flight details and so forth that the band and crew would undertake.  I held it in my band and tried to let the reality sink in of what I had just been handed.  There was one proviso mind.  I had to give my word that I wouldn’t divulge any of the details within relating to flight details or where the band was staying.  With this knowledge, I gave my word and kept it.

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I was too scared to show the book to anyone so it stayed in my satchel for the remainder of the night and most of the next day.  During the afternoon of the following day, I pulled out my little treasure and explored the finer details within.  It had everything I needed to know about the remainder of the tour.  If I wanted to, I could have told my friends exactly where the band and crew were staying in other cities, what times they would be heading to the airport in each city along with the recommended restaurants and cafes that you might find them in.  As tempting as that was, I knew I had to keep my promise.  As you know, had I told one or two people under oath, they probably would have let details slip to another who would have divulged details to another and another and so on.

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The funny thing was, I kept the book well hidden for the remainder of the tour and didn’t look at again until a year later.  From there, it remained a regular fixture that I would pull out to sift over every few months or so to reignite memories of 2004 and even, to a lesser extent, the shows that I had seen in Europe during the end of 2003.  To be honest, that eighteen month period in my life from August 2002 through to February 2004 of seeing Bowie concerts in America, Europe and Australia is a bit of a blur these days but the finer details of particular experiences seem as fresh today as they did at the time.  Sometimes, I wish I had been more attentive and seen shows on the 1995, 1997 and 1999 tours or gone to see the New York Bowie.Net shows in 2000 or 2002 for example.  You live and you learn I guess.

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Every now and then, I get asked by younger Bowie fans what it was like to see him live on stage.  You can’t really answer it aside from describing it as a surreal experience.  I’ve since followed tours by Morrissey and Suede with Paul McCartney’s Australian shows later this year also looking very tempting but nothing will ever top following a Bowie tour.  Nothing!  Most of all, it’s people like those two randoms from Bowie’s crew in 2004 who give you lasting memories that will never be forgotten.  I do wonder if they went back and told Bowie the day after that the Brisbane after show party was a cracking one.  You never know?