Remembering David Bowie’s iconic performance of ‘Heroes’ from his 1978 Earl’s Court show
We’re digging deep into the Far Out Magazine vault to bring you a very special performance from David Bowie as he graced the stage of Earl’s Court to deliver a sumptuous performance of his 1977 song, ‘Heroes’.
Bowie’s iconic track will likely outlive us all. The song transcends a genre, musical penchant or, indeed, politics. The only song capable of breaking down the Berlin Wall and bringing you to tears at the same time, the ‘Heroes’ is part of Bowie’s iconography.
Taken from his 12th studio album Heroes, the track was co-written by Bowie and the musical genius of Brian Eno and released first in 1977 as a single, and secondly, as a live release in 1978—it has become one of the shining moments of Bowie’s career and still to this day is favoured as one of his best.
In 1978, when the clip below was filmed, Bowie was at the top of his game. Having just been a part of some of the most influential records of the period (Lou Reed’s Transformer and Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life to name two), Bowie also had one of the moment’s most fantastic tracks in ‘Heroes’. He knew it and so placed it as the second song to be played in his Isolar II set.
The Isolar II world tour was one of Bowie’s best. The singer was at his swaggering summit by the time he arrived in London to close out the tour. America had been cracked, Canada has left a glittering pool of Bowie fandom, and Europe had fallen to his feet. It was just the homecoming show left to go before a long break.
The clip below comes via Nacho Video and comes with a quick summary of how it was compiled: “The audio featured here is from the soundboard recording of the last of the three nights, on July 1st, 1978. The video was shot the previous night, the June the 30th performance, and was used for the LWT David Bowie Special show, which was broadcast a week later, on July the 8th. And it is from recordings of the LWT show, that I have taken the video footage.”
It’s the kind of fandom that only Bowie can enact. The singer gathered up fans with a giant scoop as he toured the world during his career. His unique performance and avant-garde delivery meant he was always at the cutting edge of musical creation while straddling the emotion of authentic expression—it’s something that always endeared him to his fans.
‘Heroes’ was born from a very similar space, inspired by the sight of Bowie’s producer-engineer Tony Visconti embracing his lover by the Berlin Wall, the track goes on to tell the story of two lovers, one from East and one from West Berlin. Later Bowie’s performance of the song on June 6, 1987, at the German Reichstag in West Berlin has been considered a catalyst to the later fall of the Berlin Wall.
While that performance can quite rightly be described as his most powerful—this performance of ‘Heroes’ sees Bowie at his best. Fiery with rock and roll passion and dripping with sex appeal, Bowie still delivers an emotionally charged moment nobody in the crowd would ever forget.