David Bowie’s iconic song ‘Heroes’ has had some incredible performances over the years. A song endeared to so many, every time it’s performed it leaves an indelible mark on its audience. This emotionally-charged acoustic performance in 1996 is one of the best.
Bowie arrived at the stage with a stripped back set but a hefty dose of connection as he delivers an impeccable rendition of the song he created with Brian Eno in 1977. Running through a number of his hits, at a time when he avoided doing on his tours, the performance ranks among one of his best.
Taking place in Mountain View, California, Bowie arrived at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in 1996 to perform for the Bridge School Benefit. Created by Neil Young and wife Pegi, the annual charity event is a fundraiser for the students of the school which specialises in the care of physically and communicatively impaired students. Running since 1986, some of the rock and roll world’s brightest stars have taken part.
Performers for the 1996 edition of the concert included Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Pearl Jam, Bonnie Raitt, Billy Idol, Pete Townshend, Patti Smith, Cowboy Junkies, Hayden and, of course, David Bowie.
After Bowie‘s death, Pegi Young used her Facebook account to share her memories of The Starman at the weekend event: “My first impression of David Bowie as he walked through the front door of our home for the annual BBQ fiesta that traditionally kicks off the Bridge School Benefit Concert weekend was how slight he was. His music and his persona were so large that I was struck by the contras,” she said.
Undeterred by his larger than life persona, Young approached the group “to thank them for coming to play for our kids, the next thing that stays in my memory is what an absolute gentleman he was. He was an enormously talented yet humble man who was content to just hang out with the kids and other guests who were attending that night’s party.”
Joined by Reeves Gabrels on electric guitar and Gail Ann Dorsey on bass, Bowie straps a bottle cap to his shoe for percussion and the group perform Bowie stalwarts including ‘Heroes’, ‘Let’s Dance’ and ‘China Girl’. It’s a magical moment which is, of course, encapsulated in the stunning performance of ‘Heroes’ below.
During a period in Bowie’s career where he was exasperated by his old material these glimpses into his past were something he shared with the school sincerely. An avid supporter of charities wherever possible, and an even keener supporter of the arts’ wellbeing benefits, this performance is full of Bowie’s authenticity.
David Bowie’s full setlist from both evenings can be found below, with a double feature video too. But for now, watch this emotional performance of ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie in 1996.
David Bowie Setlist 1996:
‘The Jean Genie’
‘I Can’t Read’
‘The Man Who Sold The World’