Gilly's Birthday Concert Review

by Gilly

I arrived at the JFK-airport at 4 pm and got to the hotel at 6. Left my bags there and went straight to MSG, which was about 10 minutes walk. It was snowing, but not too windy and soon I arrived.

The queue in front of the doors was astonishingly short and I was at once spotted by Patti, whom I had not seen for so many long years. She introduced me to all her internet-friends. Hel had left my ticket at the hotel and now, her daughter and me were trying to swop them for mosh-pit-tickets. The officials wouldn't do it, but by chance we found a woman with her son, who were all too willingly wanting to swop them.

So, everyone was happy. Quarter to 7, the crowd entered the building but was still held up until quarter past 7, before they were allowed into the auditorium. During this time, those who were tall enough could watch a projection of the TW-birthday-greetings to David. Then the inner doors opened. The MSG-people had thought up a clever method to keep people from pushing and squashing: First, we had to go (run) to the end of the building, then go up to the 3rd floor. Up there, we went inside and there we had to run downstairs to the groundfloor again. Then we had to go back to the entrance-side of the hall. There stood some men who pierced some holes into our tickets. Then we got a wrist-band and with that we were allowed into the moshpit, which was -of course- on the other side of the hall. Those who hadn't collapsed with a heart-attack or lung-insuffiency by then had finally reached their goal.

When I arrived (pant, pant, cough, cough, rattle, howl,...) the first row was already occupied in the middle, but to the left, there were still some empty places. Infront of the stage there was a sort of catwalk and around that, they had built a fence. I placed myself into the corner of stage and catwalk, so I had the closest view to both and was very content.

At point 8 o'clock the group Placebo started their programme. They were quite boring to look at, the music sounded nice, I think and the voice sounded as if somebody had forgotten to plug the microphone in: unhearable. The most laudable thing about them was, that they stopped already after half an hour. Then, roadies with masks (of David!?) entered to fix the stage. Already then I noticed 2 little dolls, sitting on David's TMWSTW-table, on which some faces were projected by a small machine infront of them. I also noticed a lot of huge bloodshot eye-balls hanging under the ceiling and I wondered what they were here for. Meanwhile, the hall-PA played songs from Earthling and I'm Deranged from Outside.

Then, a few minutes after 9, the transparent curtain, we knew from 1990, lowered and behind it, David entered the stage.

At last, the photographers were allowed into the press-pit. Now, I knew, the concert would start. A large screen lowered and a film showing Louise Lecavalier and Bowie dancing (the same film from the 90 shows, a little disappointment) was shown, while David stood behind the screen, singing Little Wonder. I knew this song from the Internet and loved it live! But the photographers in front of me were cursing, cause because of the screen they couldn't take sharp pix. Then the screen came up and I could see Bowie in his full, uncovered beauty: he was wearing a sort-of gold-coloured, chequered frock-coat, held together with one button, with open cuff-links, over a black shirt and black leather-trousers. His hair was still bright red, but fortunately not that short anymore. I grabbed my camera and took many photos, hoping, the guards wouldn't mind, as the photographers took their photos too. (Unfortunately, my films were not high-speed enough and only one tenth of the pix came out reasonably well.) So my attention was fixed more to the optics than the acoustics. I noticed, The Hearts Filthy Lesson was still pretty much the same as on the Outside-tour. I think it was during this song, when David came over to our side to the edge of the stage and all the people there were trying to touch his hands. I tried too, but couldn't quite reach him. Still it was lovely seeing him from so close. I couldn't make up my mind whether to take photos of this or try to touch him myself. (Tried both, actually.)

After that, the photographers in front of me were thrown out and Frank Black entered the stage. Knowing he'd be there, I recognized him from the Lorelei-concert, where I saw him talk to Reeves before the concert. As far as I know they worked together and are good friends. Still I didn't watch how Reeves reacted to Frank, my attention was elsewhere. Frank was wearing bluejeans and a blue shirt and looked pretty unsuitable for a birthday-invitation. I was wondering, what he'd do, but he didn't do much, except standing there, singing with David. They sang Scary Monsters and for the first time I really Loved that song, it had an enormous drive and I couldn't help jumping and singing along and rising my fist. It was great! A slower song followed, Fashion, and still Frank didn't do more than standing beside David on the catwalk, singing. This should be the special performance of the special guests? Hm, I didn't know what I'd expected. Something spectacular, I guess. Did David do that on purpose: not letting his guests look better or even as good as him, let alone sing as good as him? I wouldn't impute it to him, but I wouldn't be surprised either. Well, I decided, I'd be contend that the guests didn't bother and waited for more.

David removed his coat and was wearing a black vest under it. He sang Telling Lies, which I knew too, so I could get into that song. Ooh, ah, visionary, I like that refrain. David was often changing his position: stage <-> catwalk, from song to song, being often upon the catwalk, very close to me! Sigh! I think, he lost weight again and looked superb in his tight leather trousers, especially from the side. The big eye-ball(oon)s were released from the ceiling and thrown into the audience. I tried to watch them, then watch the stage, then watch the balls again, but where were they? Seemed that exactly during the 5 seconds, I glanced at the stage, they all popped at once. I wondered if they had little explosives inside to make them all go at the same second. Pity, I like to watch audience participation, even if it's just a ball-game.

Then another drumkit was brought on stage and the first sound of Hello Spaceboy started. This is my favourite piece and I couldn't help freaking out completely, jumping like mad, headbanging, it's just so marvellous!. I hope I didn't bother Jen(n) beside me too much! I didn't see anything of what was going on on stage, this time I had fun even without watching David. I only noticed some people in front of the catwalk throwing glitter (moondust) and sex-adverts (do you like girls or boys) (must have been Taffy). After that I was completely worn out and watched the next song, noticing, the Foo Fighters had been on stage since Hello Spaceboy. They played Seven Years in Tibet, but I don't recall it. Dave Grohl was wearing a black t-shirt and jeans and was playing guitar and was standing quite far away from David. Why so far away? Maybe just because the mike was there. I didn't see any other Foo Fighter, though. Where were they?

TMWSTW followed, I think. David first sat on the table, then came onto the catwalk and kneeled down, playing guitar. Very nice.

After that, Robert Smith entered the stage, wearing bluejeans, a blue t-shirt and a black shirt and a black guitar. I always liked The Cure and hoped for some more participation from Robert. The first song The Last Thing You Should Do was unfamiliar to me and I didn't get much of it. I don't think I even heard Robert. Was he using the same mike as Placebo before, the one not plugged in? Or should it be, that exactly my position was a deaf spot, not covered by the speakers? Hm, his voice was VERY low, anyway. Too bad. A new song came up and I could hardly believe my ears: Quicksand! Never heard it live and I was enthusiastic. I think, Robert sang a verse or two of it on his own and I could make out some of his singing. But I guess, to hear a really good version, I have to wait for a bootleg. For this song, both of them entered the catwalk, playing guitar. David had put on the ripped silver-coat from the summertour. Robert left and David sang Battle for Britain, I am told. Cant remember any of it.

The dolls sitting on the table had be lit with David's moving face during most of the show and I often watched them, thinking: WOW. But now, some huge, ca. 3 m high bag was lifted high( well 1,50m) above the stage and somehow I knew, they'd project David's face on this too. Indeed. Some device was rolled onto stage like this punishing-device from the middle ages, where your hands and head are locked in and you're exposed on the marketplace. (What's its name?) David put his hands and face through and right in front of this device, a camera was standing, which was filming him and projecting his face live to the huge bag. The camera-man operating it, wore a white mask, I bet it was one of those Bowie-masks the roadies were wearing earlier. Well, the bag functioned as a screen, but it had a marvellous 3-dimensional effect. David sang the Voyeur, rolled his eyes and bared his teeth. I didn't notice then, but somebody told me later and my photos of the large face tell me the same: David has his lower lip pierced. Aeh baeh. Thank god, one doesn't notice easily. I don't like that. Bowie had removed his coat for the Voyeur, but after it, he put the Union Jack on. Sonic Youth joined him on stage, complete with drumkit. They were also dressed very casual except for the woman who was wearing a sleeveless red dress. They played I'm Afraid Of Americans, which I knew from the soundtrack cd. I really didn't like that song there, but here, live on stage, it was really very good! When it was over, David removed the coat and hit the catwalk again. He did Looking for Satellites and I recall, that I could make out the songtitle all by myself. I don't remember the song, but I think I tried to like it and didn't quite succeed. This was the last of the Earthling songs.

Under Pressure followed, this performance was very much as on the outside-tour. By the way, Gail Ann was wearing a cleverly ripped, back-free dress. After that, the screen came down again and Heroes was sung in front of it.. It didn't impress me enough to be remembered 3 weeks later. What did impress me though was Lou Reed. He came on with black jeans and T-shirt, but at once he had a presence on stage like none of the other guests before. The crowd called out loud and Bowie said :boo, boo to these calls. I thought he was envious. But around the end of Lou's performance, I realised, that he- just like the audience- called: Lou, Lou! Lou was really cheered by the whole MSG! And rightfully. I felt something going on between David and Lou, you could sense, they knew each other well, liked each other. With Lou, David really communicated, while the other guests just stood beside him and did their thing. The songs Lou and David did were very appropriate: Queen Bitch (never heard live before! Hooray!), Waiting For The Man, Dirty Boulevard and White Light. I was only sad that I wasn't so familiar with Dirty boulevard, I could have enjoyed it more. Of course, Lou has not a singing voice, but his stage presence was enough to make him the most interesting guest this evening.

When Lou left, the screen lowered again and the Life on Mars video was shown, while David sang Moonage Daydream. During the end the first few rows were waving their arms and David picked it up and then the whole audience joined in. How lovely. I like the end of Moonage Daydream the most, I wish he'd do a longer end, more waving, more singing. Sigh.

So, this was the main part of the concert and the band left the stage. After the last 5 songs I was in high spirits and sang with the others "Happy birthday" . The band returned and Gail Ann started singing "Happy birthday" so that the whole audience could join in. She can definitely sing better than the audience! Then David came out, wearing a gold coat with very long, ripped, coloured sleeves. As soon as he reached the end of the catwalk, somebody brought him a birthday cake and he blew out the candles, which lit again after a while. He said something, but I was busy taking photos. Luckily, the one of my photos that came out best is the one with the birthdaycake. Watch it on the TW Birthday Concert site.

David put the cake down and Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins came out. He at least didn't wear jeans and t-shirt but a grey striped suit, (sort of Chicago-gangster, hihi.) He sang All The Young Dudes and The Jean Genie with David and by now, everyone was in a great mood, people dancing in the aisles everywhere. You could see them well, because the whole house seemed to be lit then. In this light I noticed the camera, cruising above the heads in the moshpit. It didn't really bother me cause it didnUt reach into my corner. But it filmed in our direction, so I think I will maybe see myself in the video now and then. The other cameras in the presspit bothered me more, cause sometimes the cameramen were standing right in front of me. Not too often though, thank god. We were all sad, when the band finally left the stage and it was over. Or was it? Of course, everyone was hoping and shouting for more and there: the screen lowered again! David came out one last time and sang Space Oddity, playing guitar, being backed by a lovely female voice. I wondered if it was Gail Ann? On the screen, the video of the Sound&Vision-concerts of Space Oddity was shown and David lip-synched his picture. He could still do it well. (Though, me, I'd have preferred something new.) Anyway, I was delighted to hear Space Oddity again, something I'd never expected. A wonderful end of a wonderful concert! And I can't wait to see the video.

After the concert, we had hopes of getting backstage, 'cause someone was said to have connections. But before it came to that, we were thrown out of the hall by the bloody guards. Too bad! I then wanted to buy an official t-shirt, but they were all sold out already. Munno!

So we walked over to the Penn Hotel, where I saw all the lovely TW people plus my friends from Holland, England, Italy and France. After a while we couldn't stand anymore and as there were no seats in the Penn Hotel lobby, we took off to a bar where a drag-queen was singing, then later to dinner, where some drag-queens were serving. For me an unusual, but very nice ending of a wonderful day.

We, that is Hel, her daughter, Marc and me, returned at 5 in the morning, had a good nightsleep and after we had to part at noon , I met another friend from Vienna, with whom I spent the rest of my stay in NY sight-seeing and philosophising about David. Unfortunately, the American railway-system kept me from meeting Patti again, but then, you can't have all, can you. David, thank you for the most lovely weekend I had this year! (So far, hihi)

For more of Gilly's photos, try visiting Hel's Kitchen (on the links page).

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This document last updated Wednesday, 09-Feb-2000 15:05:27 EST
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