The day I saw David Bowie in the rain

The night of 14 February 2004 was a night that made my wife and I forget it was summer. Freezing southerly winds and driving rain didn’t bode well for an open-air concert.

Into deepest space: Hubble space telescope image of galaxies from the early universe. Public domain, NASA.
Public domain, NASA.

But this was Bowie, on his Down Under Tour. We’d been looking forward to it for months.

Bowie. The Thin White Duke. The Spider from Mars. Ziggy Stardust. The chameleon artist whose music had been the defining sound of both our high-school days. For me, the summer of 1978 hadn’t been the summer of Grease. It had been the summer of Stage, Bowie’s amazing live double-album retrospective.

The summer before, it was Heroes – the second of the ‘Berlin’ albums. And Station to Station.

And now, decades later, we were going to see him.

So my wife and I sallied forth to Wellington’s main stadium, in the railway grounds, huddling beneath giant polythene ponchos that lasted about half the concert before shredding under the onslaught of the wind.

Bowie came out in a Macintosh and launched into ‘Rebel Rebel’ –  and as it ended, thanked us all for coming to see him in, as he said, ‘such shitty weather’.  Then he discarded the coat and performed out in the wet – drenched through, like his audience, as he powered through ‘Changes’, ‘Hang On To Yourself’, ‘China Girl’ and ‘Heroes’ among others. The encore ran to three numbers, going out on ‘Ziggy Stardust’.

The rain never let up. Nor did some stupid woman in the row behind us who seemed to think Bowie might hear her on the other side of the stadium if she hooted and made enough Sheena The Ape Woman noises.

We got home after midnight, shivering and drenched through. An awesome evening.

Bowie was a consummate professional.Actor, musician, composer, performer. An artist par excellence. I never met the guy personally but I know two people who did – one of whom spent a couple of hours chatting music with him.

And now he’s gone. Damn.

Did any of you see him perform live? What were your experiences?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2016




4 thoughts on “The day I saw David Bowie in the rain

  1. I never got to see him perform live, but I’ve come a little bit closer to the experience through your lovely tribute. Thank you.

    1. It was a one-time experience for me – until recently New Zealand wasn’t really on the gig circuit because of the costs vs the likely size of audience. Only a handful have the pulling power to fill the Wellington stadium – Bowie, Elton John and AC/DC among them. The venue Bowie used is also a sports ground, and in 2000 was used by Peter Jackson to make the ‘orc army roar’ in the Helm’s Deep scenes of ‘The Two Towers’ – he turned up with recording gear and got the rugby crowd to make the sounds. ‘Crowd sourcing’ – literally!

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