David Bowie – in concert at The Budokan, Tokyo – December 12, 1978 – Broadcast by NHK-Japan –
David Bowie in concert, recorded at The Budokan in Tokyo on December 12, 1978 by NHK. David Bowie embraced so many musical genres and styles during his life that you could pick just about any concert from his career and it highlights a different aspect of where he was musically at the time.
This concert comes during The Berlin Trilogy phase. Before the end of 1976, Bowie’s interest in the burgeoning German music scene, as well as his drug addiction, prompted him to move to West Berlin to clean up and revitalize his career. After completing Low and “Heroes”, Bowie spent much of 1978 on the Isolar II world tour, bringing the music of the first two Berlin Trilogy albums to almost a million people during 70 concerts in 12 countries. By now he had broken his drug addiction; biographer David Buckley writes that Isolar II was “Bowie’s first tour for five years in which he had probably not anaesthetized himself with copious quantities of cocaine before taking the stage. … Without the oblivion that drugs had brought, he was now in a healthy enough mental condition to want to make friends.” Recordings from the tour made up the live album Stage, released the same year. Bowie also recorded narration for an adaptation of Sergei Prokofiev’s classical composition Peter and the Wolf, which was released as an album in May 1978.
The final piece in what Bowie called his “triptych”, Lodger (1979), eschewed the minimalist, ambient nature of the other two, making a partial return to the drum- and guitar-based rock and pop of his pre-Berlin era. The result was a complex mixture of new wave and world music, in places incorporating Hijaz non-Western scales. Some tracks were composed using Eno and Peter Schmidt’s Oblique Strategies cards: “Boys Keep Swinging” entailed band members swapping instruments, “Move On” used the chords from Bowie’s early composition “All the Young Dudes” played backwards, and “Red Money” took backing tracks from “Sister Midnight”, a piece previously composed with Iggy Pop. The album was recorded in Switzerland. Ahead of its release, RCA’s Mel Ilberman stated, “It would be fair to call it Bowie’s Sergeant Pepper … a concept album that portrays the Lodger as a homeless wanderer, shunned and victimized by life’s pressures and technology.” As described by biographer Christopher Sandford, “The record dashed such high hopes with dubious choices, and production that spelled the end—for fifteen years—of Bowie’s partnership with Eno.” Lodger reached No. 4 in the UK and No. 20 in the US, and yielded the UK hit singles “Boys Keep Swinging” and “DJ”.
Here is one of the concerts from the Isolar II tour.
Crank it up.