David Bowie has done a fair few decent show in his time. The singer may have found fame as a wild act on-record but his time on stage was just as exemplary. When you have a back catalogue of personas that include Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane you know you have a few characters to rely on.
Yet somehow, one of David Bowie’s most complete and perfect performances came during a rehearsal for the real thing. Back in 1976, as the Thin White Duke limbered up for a special opening performance in Vancouver, he treated the roadies to a star-spangled performance.
It must be a little odd when you’re David Bowie and have become accustomed to theatres and an arena full to the brim with people not only cheering your name but dressing like you and mouthing every word you sing, to then suddenly perform to emptiness—but that’s exactly what happened in ’76.
As Bowie got ready for a mammoth coat-to-coast tour of the States he needed to have a dress rehearsal of the performance, after all, the dress was sometimes the most important part. In fact, on this tour, Bowie had scaled back the brightly coloured theatrics and was instead instilling a sense of classic monochrome timelessness.
What we have then is a piece of footage that captures the entire first performance of Bowie’s now-iconic ‘Thin White Duke Tour’. It’s a pinnacle moment in Bowie’s career as he straddles the past with glee but still pushed forward with every performance. The well-attired singer delivers possibly one of his finest performances of all time.
It’s an impressive set too, songs like ‘Life on Mars’, ‘Station to Station’ ‘Suffragette City’, a Velvet Underground cover fame and so many more are all performed during this tight show. It’s a mark of Bowie’s already impressive career that despite being only seven years down the line form his national discovery, he already has a setlist capable of wiping the floor with anybody.
We will admit that the harmonies on stage leave a little to be desired but other than that the show is an unbelievably watchable one. The singer was on fine form and clearly ready to finally take that hammer to the American Liberty Bell and turn that crack into the sound of shattering record sales.
After ‘Rebel Rebel’ closes out the show there is dead silence, something we’re sure Bowie isn’t used to. While there may not have been any applause that night, we’ve cheered the enigmatic singer every time he finished.
Watch the most impressive rehearsal of all time as David Bowie gets ready for the ‘Thin White Duke’ tour in 1976.
David Bowie Setlist:
01 – Station To Station
02 – Suffragette City
03 – Waiting For The Man
04 – Word On A Wing
05 – Stay
06 – TVC 15
07 – Sister Midnight
08 – Life On Mars?
09 – Panic In Detroit
10 – Fame
11 – Changes
12 – The Jean Genie
13 – Queen Bitch
14 – Rebel Rebel