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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?