Palaeur, Rome, Italy – April 17, 1990
(79:14) Space Oddity, Changes, TVC 15, Rebel Rebel, Be My Wife, Ashes To Ashes, Golden Years, Fashion, Life On Mars?, Blue Jean, Let’s Dance, Stay, Band Intro, China Girl, Sound And Vision, Ziggy Stardust, Station To Station, Young Americans, Panic In Detroit, Suffragette City
After the popularity from Let’s Dance faded, Bowie felt he needed to again attempt to reinvent himself, he released a box set entitled Sound + Vision filled with obscurities, demos and live versions and in hindsight, a set that has held up well over the past 27 years. Bowie would tour in support of the release and part of the hype would be that this would be the last time he would play his “Greatest Hits”. While history would show that he would play his older music onstage, it also shows that Bowie would successfully again change, this time as a member of the Tin Machine project.
This new title from Eat A Peach features an incomplete soundboard recording of a concert early in the tour, at the 10,000 seat Palaeur in Rome, Italy. The recording itself is excellent, perfectly balanced with a wonderful range of frequencies with a nice warm and inviting sound to it. If not for the audience being low in the mix, it would be of official quality. There has been a partial release of this material, Finish Off Old Phase (Helden DEN-10/11) has TVC 15, Be My Wife and Golden Years as bonus tracks. There is a decent audience recording of this evening so we know that Fame, Heroes, Pretty Pink Rose, Jean Genie, Queen Bitch and Rock And Roll Suicide are the only missing songs and while they do circulate in the audience tape, they do not circulate from the soundboard.
Bowie assembled a very small band for this tour, Adrian Belew on guitar, Erdal Kizilcay on bass, Rick Fox on keyboards, and Michael Hodges on drums, the musicians are able to get all the little nuances in without it being overly cluttered. The recording begins fading into the already in progress Space Oddity, the last two minutes to be exact, all other songs are complete. Bowie would stick to faithful arrangements for the songs, the version of Ziggy is one of the most interesting, the main guitar riff is played on the keyboards that sound almost accordion like. Many songs have slightly faster tempos to them, and the set is played at a furious pace, Bowie is in good voice for the majority of the set although towards the end you can hear he is getting a bit horse. David is animated throughout and for many songs plays acoustic guitar, the other musicians provide backing vocals and do a damn good job, case in point Young Americans. The song does not miss a step as far the vocal swing that is found on the studio version, while they are no Vandross or Cherry, they’re no slouch either, the song also has a cool bluesy ending.
Bowie is none too happy about the venue acoustics, referring to it as a toilet, otherwise he is quite happy to be in Rome and has a lot of enthusiasm as the performance builds. Based upon the last section of songs from Station To Station, the basic arrangements of the songs allow the band the room to feed off each other and by the time they get into Suffragette City, it’s time for all out rock and roll. One can surmise he has not played a rock show like this since the days of the Spiders in the early 70’s. Simply put, a well played and very enjoyable concert.
This set is in the typical mini LP sleeve, all photos are relevant to the eras with the majority being in black and white to tie in to the official Sound + Vision project. There is an insert with liner notes and picture CD, typical for most Peach titles. The great sound and performance make for an excellent title, one worth seeking out and certainly worth ones investment.