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Posted: 2006 02-08
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David Bowie mucking about in the mid-70s

After viewing this footage it isn't too difficult to conclude that David Bowie's mindset in the mid-70s was, at the very least, mildly warped. Whether this was due to his fascination with the occult, a dalliance with certain pharmaceuticals, or just a general feeling of ennui after having both invented and retired the genre of glam rock inside of five years, by the time he arrived on this Vancouver stage in 1976, a certain seriousness had clearly gone out of his step.

It is probably unfair to scrutinize this clip too closely – after all, it is doubtful Bowie even knew he was being filmed for what is billed as a rehearsal but is more likely just a mid-afternoon sound check. There is no real attempt to get through this song properly – the man meanders through “Changes” as though he were a confused "Don't Forget the Lyrics!" contestant, but a heavy work schedule and the lack of an audience in the Pacific Coliseum might have contributed to the charming lackadaisical campiness that pervades this clip.

Is David Bowie singing scat, vamping, or merely messing about? That sort of investigation is perhaps beyond my abilities, but a little research reveals that the Bowie of the Thin White Duke era subsisted mainly on a diet of red peppers, milk, and cocaine, which may or may not have contributed to his reputation as a strict perfectionist in everything he did onstage. Thus, the lack of his usual precision and concentration during this breezy run-through lend it a certain fascination for the Bowie scholar, a chance to study the master of  “Changes” in a moment of non-chalence, hamming it up with his guard down.
 

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sidthecat's picture

The thing he says about the lights suggests that this is a lighting check. I notice that when he needs to, he nails the part of the song where he wants the lights to change.
An artist as mercurial as Bowie probably has a hard time keeping the material fresh, so a stolid run-through would be unlikely...I'd be interested to know what the gig itself was like.

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