Baton Rouge (Switch On! Devil KWSK S.O. 99-08-1/2)
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA – April 11th, 1978
Disc 1: Warszawa, “Heroes”, What In The World, Be My Wife, The Jean Genie, Blackout, Sense Of Doubt, Speed Of Life, Breaking Glass, Beauty And The Beast, Fame
Disc 2: Five Years, Soul Love, Star, Hang On To Yourself, Ziggy Stardust, Suffragette City, Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide, Art Decade, Station To Station, Stay, TVC15, Rebel Rebel
David Bowie’s “Stage” tour was his longest to date. Gone were the characters. There was no Ziggy Stardust or Thin White Duke, but pure Bowie being Bowie. And being in the midst of his collaboration with Brian Eno the show more than lives up to RCA’s hype when they advertised as as “There’s Old Wave. There’s New Wave. And there’s David Bowie…”
The weight of the setlist relies upon the new material from the seminal “Heroes”. Almost sensing this would be his last major tour of the seventies (he wouldn’t hit the road again for five years), the second half of the show is dominated by the Ziggy Stardust suite.
Playing the entire The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust, but Bowie settled on playing the opening two and the final five songs from the album. “Rock N Roll Suicide” was played in the first couple weeks including in Baton Rouge, but was eventually replaced by “Alabama Song,” the B-side to the “Space Oddity” single.
Baton Rouge is an excellent sounding audience recording of the entire show. It is sharp and detailed whose only real flaw are the multiple cuts between most of the songs on the first disc. It is so clean that it could probably pass for a soundboard recording except that the faint audience cheers by the recorder give it way as an audience.
Among the recent silver titles from Bowie’s 1978 tour this is perhaps the best sounding of the lot. A cdr circulated before this was released in 2000 and Switched On! fixed the disturbing cut at 1:40 in “Fame.” It is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with a gorgeous twelve page photo booklet with many photographs from the tour showing the variety of costumes Bowie employed on this tour. A discography is also printed on the insert of this short lived by varied label.
The concert itself is a roller-coaster of styles and emotions with emphasis upon the brilliant stylistic conglomeration of pop dance music and German expressionism that characterized the first two albums of the Berlin trilogy Low and “Heroes”.
The show begins with the mysterious “Warszawa” leading into “‘Heroes’,” his biggest hit in the mid seventies. Two other instrumentals, “Sense Of Doubt” and “Art Decade,” act as a foil for the kinetic numbers that make up the bulk of the set. “The Jean Genie” is a throwback to Aladdin Sane and is perhaps the most accessible song of the night. “Breaking Glass” was reworked and extended for Bowie’s 1978 tour, though without additional lyrics, the chorus is brought to reprise multiple times, with a long, mellow drum break.
The first set ends with “Fame,” the only song from Young Americans. After the band takes a ten minute break Bowie introduces the band with the drum beat to “Five Years” acting as bumper music. The Ziggy suite is already, five years after its tour, looked upon as nostalgia and seems quaint compared to the more advanced current music.
“Station To Station” is the final song is the set closer and the encores continue two more songs from that album, “Stay” (not listed on the cover but included on the disc) and “TVC15” before the final song of the night “Rebel Rebel,” the only number from Diamond Dogs played that night. The Stage tour (so named for the subsequent live album recorded a week after this show) is still considered to be one of the classic tours in Bowie’s career and this is one of the finest documents available.
This is a fabulous recording and is one of those ‘essential’ discs all Bowie fans should have. If you like this then ‘WE CAN BE HEROES – VIENNA 1978’ from the same label is another great recording of similar high quality from the same tour. These recordings show the official labels how a live recording should be handled. The passion, musical excellence and experimental nature of the ‘Stage’ tour are well documented on this release. Thoroughly recommended.