Listening to live concert tapes can be a dangerous experiment for many reasons. Sometimes though, you stumble over a show that defies belief on many levels. If you cast your mind back to 1974 and imagine how difficult it was to record shows in good quality, you can only imagine my utter surprise when I was sent a copy of Bowie’s Philadelphia show from November 18 of 1974. As far as 1974 shows go, this is easily straight into my top 5 from the many shows I have collected from this tour.
Philadelphia hosted two Bowie concerts in 1974, the second of these shows was played out on November 25 at the same venue. This particular tape was picked up when a collector arranged to grab 500 Greatful Dead concert tapes from a fellow recorder who used to record concerts with his brother back in the 1970’s. I’m glad the tape was found because simply put, this is one of Bowie’s most energetic shows from what was now known as, The Philly Dogs Tour. It’s a pure treat to have this tape finally in wider circulation for all of us to enjoy.
Like the Ziggy Stardust tour before it, the 1974 tour that visited North America progressed and changed as Bowie grew tired of the original format which, not only cost a lot of money, it also became quite tedious hence morphing into the more stripped back and raw show that it became later in the year. It must have been strange for the concert going public to attend shows later in the tour only to find the elaborate stage sets and lighting dispersed with in favour of this far more soul driven review?
There is a good deal of interaction between the singer and his audience all the way through which creates an electric atmosphere. It’s also interesting to hear the passion Bowie revels in for his as yet, unreleased Young Americans album of which he plays no less than five songs from the sessions that were recorded in the same city. John, I’m Only Dancing (Again) and Foot Stomping were omitted from the final album cut (Foot Stomping morphed into Fame and JIOD (Again) would be released on 12″ a few years later) so we are left with Can You Hear Me, Somebody Up There Likes Me and Young Americans.
The recently released Cracked Actor LP is a welcome edition to the cannon of officially released live material though I would like to think that perhaps the Bowie estate might be inclined to release even more live material from the archives before too many more of us keel over and die. Perhaps, going forward, more shows could be released on a streaming format similar to Spotify? It would make a lot of sense. For now though, sit back relax and enjoy this delicious release of Bowie’s Philadelphia show from a golden era of his live concert period.
Bowie would move on again in early 1976 for a completely different live review though 1974 still stands head and shoulders above as one of his most opulent and grand touring periods.
Rebel Rebel/John, I’m Only Dancing (Again)/Sorrow/Changes/Moonage Daydream/Can You Hear Me/Cracked Actor/Young Americans/1984/Foot Stomping/Rock and Roll With Me/Love Me Do-The Jean Genie/Somebody Up There Likes Me/Suffragette City/Rock’n’Roll Suicide/Diamond Dogs