Ekerbergshallen, Oslo, Norway – June 5, 1978
Disc 1 (52:02) Warszawa, Heroes, What In The World, Be My Wife, The Jean Genie, Blackout, Sense Of Doubt, Speed Of Life, Breaking Glass, Fame, Band Introductions / Five Years
Disc 2 (72:33) Soul Love, Star, Hang On To Yourself, Ziggy Stardust, Suffragette City, Art Decade, Alabama Song, Station To Station, Stay. Bonus Tracks: Live at Deutschland Halle, Berlin, Germany – May 16, 1978, From the Live In Berlin 1978 LP (Brooklyn Exhibition Exclusive). Heroes, Be My Wife, Blackout, Sense Of Doubt, Breaking Glass, Fame, Alabama Song, Rebel Rebel
David Bowie’s 1978 world tour would be his first since 1976’s Isolar and would be the means to support his most recent records Low (1977) and Heroes (1978). Dubbed Isolar II the trek would consist of dates in North America beginning in March 1978, followed by Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and finishing in December with dates in Japan. Guitarist Carlos Alomar would once again be guitarist and have an expanded role as band leader, also returning were Dennis Davis and George Murray on drums and bass and hot off a two year stint with Frank Zappa, guitarist Adrian Below would make his debut as part of Bowie’s live band. The set list would feature songs from both Low and Heroes plus a healthy dose of Ziggy Stardust and Station To Station.
The recording featured on this new title comes from David’s first appearance in Olso, Norway. It was recorded from the audience and would be locally pressed in 1979 by typical enterprising individuals on the very rare title Neon Permafrost (Ekberg Records Freeze 2001). The vinyl bootleg was reportedly pressed by two workers at Polygram Records in Norway and was limited to 100 copies, the pressing plates were then reportedly destroyed. The first 10-15 copies were kept by the makers: From Bassman’s excellent Bowiesite:
“NEON PERMAFROST Label & nr: EKEBERG RECORDS FREEZE 2001 SIDA 1 /2 Cover: wrap around insert Records: 2 LP Released: 1979 Venue: Oslo, Ekebergshallen 05.06.78. Bonus: 100 numbered copies COMMENTS: Almost the entire concert of Bowie‘s first ever performance in Norway! BEAUTY AND THE BEAST / TVC 15 / REBEL REBEL are missing, and STAY is only the intro of the song (then it’s cut). The sound quality on this album is excellent, so it’s amazing that it has never been copied or re-issued in its full length. The number of the disc is stamped on the plain white jacket, and those who say that they have un-numbered copies, just don’t have the original jacket! If you should ever find this disc, it will be very expensive, but buy it anyway, because you won’t regret it!”. The record would be copied in 1984 as Recorded Live On Stage In Norway 1978 (MIW Records MW 30) and would not be repressed for over thirty years until 2017’s Neon Permafrost Second Strike (Pigs on the Groove Records POTG-43).”
Its rarity has made it quite sought after in the collectors market, original copies have fetched upwards of $1,200 and is perhaps the rarest of all Bowie Bootlegs. Surprisingly, other then the Pigs on the Groove repress, the recording has fallen under the radar of the bootleggers, this new title is therefore the first silver CD release of this material. Since the recording is incomplete, the Golden Eggs label have added the eight songs from Berlin that were released on the vinyl only Live In Berlin 1978, an LP released to coincide with the David Bowie IS touring exhibition of concert artifacts when it opened in the Brooklyn Museum in early 2018.
The sound is excellent and sounds as if it was recorded close to the stage. The audience around the taper is quiet, the sound is well balanced with all instruments clearly heard in the mix and the atmosphere is well captured. The recording does have some distortion in the lower frequencies causing them to become muddy when the band is really jamming, there is also some top end hiss present as one would expect from a recording of this age. It is sadly incomplete, Beauty And The Beast, TVC 15, and Rebel Rebel are missing and Stay is incomplete. The first half of the concert is mostly new material, the instrumental opening of Warszawa sounds bleak but a nice Heroes opens the concert proper. The Jean Genie is a nice break, the band indulge in a bit of jamming giving the song a nice extended work out. The instrumental passages are interesting, the visual of David and the band playing this somber music is striking, even live he seems to take considerable interest in its delivery, the pairing of Sense Of Doubt and Speed Of Life therefore, work very well together.
Breaking Glass has a nice funky ending that has the audience clapping along, Fame comes in very slick and smooth and brings an end to the first part of the concert. Five Years begins the Ziggy Stardust portion of the concert, as one would expect the energy level of the band is high and the crowd reaction is very enthusiastic, Suffragette City nearly brings the Ekerbergshallen down. Alabama Song sounds very eclectic, certainly a tip of the hat to the European audiences, Station to Station is very heavy thanks to the guitar histrionics of Adrian Below, and the recording ends with the first minute and twenty seconds of Stay.
The recording from Berlin is a soundboard source and is most certainly sourced from a cassette, hence it is a bit flat, something that drew the ire of some audiophiles when it was released as part of the David Bowie IS exhibit that featured clothes and props from his illustrious live history. The traveling exhibit toured the world from 2013 through 2018, its final stop was Brooklyn, New York at the Brooklyn Museum, an EP of previously unissued live material was sold at this event, the vinyl only release featured eight songs from Berlin, Germany on May 16, 1978. The sound quality is excellent, well balanced with perfect sound albeit a little flat, it was reported that Bowie had the entire Isolar II tour recorded for his personal archives. There is only the music, each track fades and is more a collection of live songs. As we just heard on the lively Oslo recording, Bowie and his band were in fine form and the performances are top shelf, this one falls in that category.
The packaging is the tri gatefold sleeve we have become accustom to from the Golden Eggs label. The sleeve is adorned with pictures of Bowie from the tour, the cover has a picture of the tour poster and the inside has a picture of the tour program and some brief liner notes. This is the EGGS second release from this tour, a much welcomed addition to the Bowie unofficial catalog.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)