David Bowie – Tokyo 1978 (Wardour-176)

David Bowie – Tokyo 1978

David Bowie, “Tokyo 1978” (Wardour-176)

DVD: Warszawa / “Heroes” / Fame / Beauty And The Beast / Five Years / Soul Love / Star / Hang On To Yourself / Ziggy Stardust / Suffragette City / Station To Station / TVC 15
CD: Warszawa / “Heroes” / Fame / Beauty And The Beast / Five Years / Soul Love / Star / Hang On To Yourself / Ziggy Stardust / Suffragette City / Station To Station / TVC 15 (59:41)

Originally released on the titles; “Merry X-Mas Mr Bowie (Audio Recording Corporation ARC 1001)”, “David Bowie At Judo Arena (Budokan) (IPS IP-C-8881 A/B)” and the the CD releases “Wild Mutation” (BOW 006) and “Hoping For A Little Romance” (YOU J-002) and including the DVD title “Last Night Of Low And Heroes Tour (GoodFellas Records GFP V02)”.

The latest release comes a mere 9 years after the last release, unfortunately, it’s because of a motive too this time rather than just because the label have found an upgrade (They haven’t – The video looks no different to previous releases coming from an old VHS tape it appears, it’s about as sharp as you’d expect from a near 40 year old tape but the colours are relatively bold enough not to be sunwashed. Transmitted on Japanese TV, there are subtitles, English for the song titles, Japanese for the lyrics, cut to linger rather than look too choppy, we see a lot of Bowie but the cameras give an equal amount of time to the band too.)

David dressed in a loose oriental / polynesian hybrid garish shirt pleated blue trousers (For the first half, changing in to a white shirt and baggy snakeskin jacket towards the end) and a fine St. Christopher’s necklace and boyish short hair looks confident and bold, bringing elements of mime and movement to his stage persona. The recorded part of the set begins with an orchestrated ‘Warszawa’, Carlos Amoldovar at the front, drawing through this minimal masterpiece, David, stood towards the front taking in orders but the curiously placed track has some of the band stood corpsing as they wait for their turns.

David himself stifles a chuckle at some points as he must decide that putting g this track in to the set list while he faces a seated crowd is possibly not what the crowd would have expected. Thankfully, “Heroes” is much more classically standard rock concert fare, the band fall back to type and David returns to centre stage behind the microphone. the sound is a little bulkier than on the LP, a reggaeish tone bounces from Carlos’ bass.

‘Fame’ has a brisk step that brings bounce to an already gloriously funky tune. David’s scat vocals are almost bellowed at the audience. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ benefits from the wild feedback from Adrian Belews’ insistent guitar. George Murry’s bass has a moody, space styling to it, sounding thick and brutal, the band close with a wild, elephantine outfake of an ending.
‘Five Years’ is Ziggy Stardust dressed as the Thin White Duke, Bowie’s voice has ripened and thickened, sounding a little less reedy as it did on the LP, it could crack at any point.

Unfortunately, ’Soul Love’ suffers here – Bowie is great of course, the musicians too but the high harmonies and queasy electric piano date the track terribly, leaving a grim pastiche of a song. Thank goodness this is a DVD rather than audio or you might find your self skipping this one .. Oh, wait!
‘Star’ is an easier listen, it’s still dated in a way but the punkishness of it’s youth is given verve, a shouty texture underneath the glam croon, vibrant guitar and pummelled drums suit it nicely as it does with, “Hang On To Yourself”. Played quickly and brusquely, George Murry’s bass lines are snakeish, throbbing and quick.

An edge dates, “Ziggy Stardust” too, it always was grandiose and full of itself, this hasn’t changed but what changes it is the glassy aux-church stylings of the electric piano. Fine if you’re a fan of the early synth sound, it’s still interesting to hear the change in it’s phase too but it can grate a little.

’Station To Station’ allows itself the great build up that the album begins with, the synths replicating the metallic chug of the trains picking up speed, the over-wrought, feedback guitars come screaming through a few minutes after, this should really have been the show opener but we know Bowie would rather do things his way. Denis Davis’ fills are tought against the slack bass lines, the band fairly skip through the second part, the joy is such, adding violin to the whole body of the sound adds just a little more emphasis too, though barely audible when it picks out, it sounds great – how much like Bowie to add the instrument to a largely electronic set too!

The disk ends with a rowdy ‘TVC15’. Ghostly harmonies, an overjumble of voices and responsive synthlines that follow Bowie’s vocals all add to the mess. It sounds heavy and great.

The Wardour label have done a great job here – coupling what is essentially one of the better TV broadcasts from 1978 along with a very well transferred audio companion. The artwork is nice if basic but that’s surely the point too as the stage set was quite linear. A must for your Bowie collection.

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