David Bowie’s stirring rendition of ‘Teenage Wildlife’ in 1995
We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to look back at the moment David Bowie provided a near-perfect performance of his 1980 Scary Monsters track ‘Teenage Wildlife’ for a gleeful audience back in 1995.
The footage comes from Bowie’s show in Birmingham back in ’95 amid his own wilderness years of the mid-to-late nineties. Having spent time within Tin Machine, perfecting his new experimental sound, Bowie began to find counterparts in the new industrial sounds of metal. One particular band would even join him on tour as he and Nine Inch Nails joined forces in for a co-headline trip.
Of late, Bowie’s estate has been sharing a host of live albums with one of his latest to hit streaming services being Ouvrez Chien, some of which captured the co-headline show with Trent Reznor and NIN. It was a peculiar time for Bowie as he saw himself play second fiddle to Reznor’s band, many of the fans arriving to see the metal group’s continued rise to prominence. Meanwhile, Bowie was in a creative lull.
The tour would even see some of the fans walk out of the arenas after NIN had finished performing something which we imagine many people regret today. “A lot of the audience knew [Bowie] because they knew Nirvana’s version of ‘The Man Who Sold the World’,” Bowie’s longtime bassist Gail Ann Dorsey told Rolling Stone in 2016. “I thought that was funny. We played pretty much all of the Outside record, which was pretty out there at the time. I wasn’t even sure I liked it myself at first.”
It was at a time when Bowie felt beleaguered by his past hits and had pledged to never play them live in concert. It meant he and the band were forced to rely on deep-cuts from Bowie’s ginormous back catalogue. ‘Heroes’, ‘Let’s Dance’ and so many others were out of bounds but Bowie still had plenty of bang for the audience’s buck.
As well as playing songs like ‘Andy Warhol’ from Hunky Dory, Bowie also found room for his potshot at eighties new wave, ‘Teenage Wildlife’. Taking from the Scary Monsters record, it sees Bowie throw barbs at the new wave of artists who had been filling the charts, in place of his own efforts, it must be said. In particular, he was rather perturbed by Gary Numan’s rise to prominence and his label of the “new Bowie”.
“A broken-nosed mogul are you,” Bowie sings in the track, with many suggesting the song is a simple yet direct attack on the electronic music pioneer. “One of the new-wave boys/Same old thing in brand-new drag/Comes sweeping into view/As ugly as a teenage millionaire.”
However Bowie meant the song when he wrote it, he certainly delivers a barnstorming rendition of the song here. So sit back and watch David Bowie’s sensational performance of ‘Teenage Wildlife’ from his Birmingham show in 1995.