The first is being about 14/15 years old. On a whim, I had recorded a concert broadcast on the radio of Bowie playing at Milton Keynes. I stand to be corrected, but if memory serves, it was supposedly going to be his last show doing the hits. Final outings for songs that I had never heard before such as ‘Rebel, Rebel’, ‘Suffragette City’, ‘Life On Mars’. My teenage mind was blown. How could one man have so many songs this good? And ‘Heroes’. Bloody ‘Heroes’! I listened to it on my Walkman on a family drive to Edinburgh. I listened to it on the way home again. I listened to it over and over and over. Sadly, the tape wore out and all I was left with was the memory and the knowledge that I would likely never see those songs performed live.
Fast forward and it’s 1995. I’m at the SECC in Glasgow with my mum. Bowie is touring his Outside album, the first and if I’m honest, only Bowie album I ever bought. I’m living in hope that he may throw out a few of the classics. In that respect, I’m left disappointed. The set continued two songs that I knew not off the new album. One of which, ‘The Man Who Sold the World’, because Nirvana had covered it. The other was ‘Under Pressure’ and we all know that one. So you might think I would’ve left that gig feeling a bit let down? Not at all. And this is the magic of Bowie. For two hours, he played songs I had never heard and I stood there utterly captivated. He was incredible, oozing charisma, a genuine talent and star quality that only the elite have. This wasn’t a rock star or a legend. This was an icon, someone who transcended trends, image and the passing of time.
His passing this week at the age of 69 is so terribly sad. Not just because we’ll never be able to see or hear him sing about Major Tom again, but because we’ll never know what he had planned next. His last two releases – the latest Blackstar just Friday past – showed that he was never one to sit back and rest on his laurels – always looking forward, always innovating, always pushing the envelope.
He was remarkable, unique and once I was in the same room as him. And that, 20 years after the fact, blows my middle-aged mind.
David Bowie Brixton Shrine image courtesy of rockerandaroller on Instagram.
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