When last we left David Bowie, it was 2003 and he had just released Reality. He would then embark, at age 56, on the longest tour of his career — 110 dates over 8 months that brought in $46 million dollars.
I was lucky enough to see both of the shows that he played on consecutive nights at the Berkeley Community Theater in April 2004. Though this was of course A Major Event, in some ways it didn’t feel like it — the BCT is a glorified high school auditorium that holds only 3500 people, which is pretty big, but still with a certain intimacy. After the second show, I think somewhere in the back of my monkey mind I thought I would see David Bowie every night for the rest of my life.
But that turned out to be the last chance. Soon after, things started to go wrong. In May, a show in Miami was cancelled when a lighting technician fell to his death. On June 18 in Oslo, a fan threw a lollipop that hit Bowie in the eye, a relatively minor incident that seems like an omen in retrospect.
Then on June 23 in Prague, David had a heart attack that was not diagnosed as such at the time. The tour carried on. His last ever concert performance was at the Hurricane Festival on Scheeßel, Germany on June 25, 2004; he would have emergency angioplasty the next day. But he finished the show.
In the ensuing decade Bowie largely dropped out of the public eye. Looking back at that time we find tracks and traces of his continued existence — backing vocals here, a TV appearance there, a small handful of live appearances. In the interest of generating some much-needed Momentum for this blog — which has been sorely lacking of late — I’m going to post them one at a time in the days to come. I will probably continue from there into The Next Day and maybe even Blackstar.
This will be done in consultation with Chris O’Leary’s Ashes to Ashes, which I’ve been meandering though for something like four years now. I’m almost afraid to finish it, but someday it has to take its place on the shelf so I can think about addressing the growing pile of music books that has been growing like a fungus in an upstairs room. Onward and upward, onward and upward.