I am back in Manila after a 5 week trek in Europe. I had a great time, some bad/scary times and I would like to share them with all of you. And of course, my Bowie experiences!
The setlist : Quicksand/Dead Man Walking/I'm Afraid of Americans/Looking for Satellites/Seven Years in Tibet/Battle of Britain/Hearts FL/Stay/Fame/Under Pressure/Fasion/Scary Monsters/Hallo Spaceboy/White Light/Little Wonder/O Superman
Played twice or thrice out of the 7 shows I saw: All the Young Dudes/Telling Lies/ Heroes/Last Thing You Should Do/Voyeur/I'm Deranged/The Man Who Sold the World/Outside/Look Back in Anger
Played once: Drum and Bass: V-2 Schneider/Fame (Is it any Wonder) - only played in Madrid.
July 2 Brussels, Belgium: I arrived in Belgium, got a room in some youth hostel and waited for my first Bowie concert in Torhout -which was 2 hours away from Brussels.
July 4: Mud, rain, floods and Bowie.
Finally the day arrives. Packed my bag which consisted of 3 shirts, some undies, food and some important things I can't leave at the hostel. I got to the train station and got a bit paranoid when I saw a bunch of teenagers carrying big bags and tents and sleeping bags. I realized at this point that I am in for a big surprise. I asked a group of kids if I can join them in the train since they're also going to the festival. They agreed but when they saw my passport and learned that I was from the Philippines, they started talking and laughing, so I got annoyed and changed cars. Annoying little assholes.
Anyway, I got to Torhout quite early. Got my ticket and proceeded to the concert site. Without any camping gear, I was expecting to see some hostels/hotels but I nearly fainted when I saw none. Torhout is in the middle of nowhere. Now I know that's why it is not on the map.
Stupid me. I was praying that I'd be lucky and see Marcel (the person I emailed so we could meet there). The sun was shining like anything and the road going to the entrance was muddy. Thank god for DM boots. I got in but my recorder was confiscated. At about 2:30 it started raining but I handled it. The sun came out again and by the time Skunk Anansie played (4:00), it was like I was in the middle of a storm. This is the only place where you can get sunburned and get rain in the span of two hours. My supposedly waterproof (thanks Mom! Grrr...) jacket got wet and I was dripping wet and very paranoid as I might get sick because I am not used to this kind of thing.
After an hour of rain and cold, I got to change my shirt and waited for Marcel. I finally saw him and I sighed in relief as I know I have a ride tomorrow for Werchter. I asked him about hostels and he said, no can do and offered his tent. Thank god for Marcel or else I would have died there, frozen to death. Lots of time to spare as Bowie's going onstage at 11:30 p.m. By 7:00, I was exhausted like anything...nowhere to sit and nothing to eat..By 9 p.m., we went to the front (3rd row) because Marcel wanted to see Suede. After they played, I finally learned how to go to sleep standing.
Bowie's crew were fixing the stage and I just couldn't explain what I was feeling at this moment. White lights on, without any warning, he came out from the left entrance (audience view: right hand of stage) I was in awe and kept thinking: This is how David Bowie looks like in person. And continued to study (!!) his face. Opened with Quicksand alone with his guitar. Wearing a Chinese looking cream colored costume and brownish orange high cut rubber shoes. Hair still golden brown and standing (you know the hairdo!) By the middle of the song, the band came out and gave the song a heavy ending. Excellent. Second song: All the Young Dudes.
This is the time when I started screaming like anything and crying like shit. I really can't remember the song order but it is on Evan's page. Bowie was pretty funny during this concert, joking with Reeves and playing that what's your name bit with the audience. And he makes faces everytime he sees some fans taking photos of him. Pretty funny. He goes: "Why, you're a very quiet and polite audience!" And we go: "we're stuck here, we can't move! It's flooded!" But of course, he didn't understand it, hehe. He was supposed to play until 1:00 am because of the curfew..but he went on until 1:30. It was really excellent. And during this time, I also met Gilly, that's how I got to know the hotel where he was staying. After the show, we went to Marcel's tent. I couldn't eat or drink a lot because I'd have a problem when I need to go to the toilet :-0 By 8 am, we decided to pack up and head for Brussels since Marcel also wants to meet Bowie and get his autograph.
July 5: In 7 hours and 45 minutes, you will see Bowie.
We arrived in St. Gilles at about 12 and proceeded to the hotel. Waited outside, yes, in the cold. We saw Gilly and friends again. The Smashing Pumpkins also arrived ,they didn't want to give autographs and have their pictures taken, I got a bit worried because I was thinking that what if Bowie was like that? Around the same time, Reeves and Gail went out of the hotel so we were pretty sure Bowie was in the hotel. At about 5 pm, there were about 5 of us outside the hotel waiting for Bowie...then we saw the tour bus..we knew right away it was his because the driver was wearing an Earthling shirt. Reeves and Gail came back so we got on our toes and started hanging by the door. FINALLY, the band came out, the David went out with his bodyguard, Bob. Bob asked us to line up so David can give all of us an autograph, but still some girls were crowding around him and kissing him. I was just standing there, maybe about 3rd to the last in line, clutching my ticket and camera and grinning from ear to ear. So finally, my time came up, I handed him my ticket and underneath it was my passport.
Me: Mr. Bowie, I came all the way from the Philippines just to see you.
DB: (signing and grinning) OH REALLY?!! (then he laughed)
Me: Good luck to your concert tonight.
DB: Why, Thank you!
So after he handed me back my ticket, I ran towards the bus and started taking pictures (I am so stupid not to ask him if we could have a picture together! Damn!) By the time he got near me, I said Bye David and he smiled again and went in. I wanted to die. I couldn't believe it! After my very first concert, I meet Bowie! WOW. (Isn't it embarrassing to be seen by Bowie wearing pants and shoes full of mud?)
Since we are still in Brussels and it's still along way to Werchter, Marcel and I kind of panicked so we got to Werchter at about 10:00. Poor Marcel missed the first half of Suede's set. This time, I got to the 13th row or something, quite far from the stage but it's ok as I got to appreciate the lighting and background effects this time. Bowie wore the same clothes as last night but his hair was down..making him look like a schoolboy and he looked younger with his hair like this. He was still funny but the show was shorter, he played for 1 hour and 30 minutes. No encore because the Chemical Brothers were playing after him.
We went back to the tent and the next day, I went back to Brussels. Marcel stayed to see the other bands. I got back to Brussels, tired like anything and hating the weather.
July 7-10 Amsterdam I love this city! I went to Madame Tussaud's and saw Bowie's wax replica. I was like a fly hovering around it for 30 minutes. Please email me if you want me to see the pictures. Sorry but I don't have concert pictures as the security guards were confiscating cameras and I decided not to try to take pictures anymore as I am missing a lot onstage when I attempt to take photos.
July 10 Koln, Germany
July 11 Bonn, Germany
July 12-14 Strasbourg, France
July 15 Madrid, Spain: Changed venues and missed trains.
I arrived in Madrid the day of the concert. I contacted Pedro (another internet friend) to tell him I already arrived . We went (him, me and his two friends who were new Bowie fans) to Las Ventas (cap. 15,000) and noticed that the doors were still closed and nobody's there. Then Pedro saw the poster and it was printed there that it was changed to Aqualung (cap. 3,000). So we got a bit lost going to the new venue...Thanks to Pedro as I wouldn't know how to get to Aqualung and back without him and his friends.
We arrived at Aqualung at about 9:15. A lot of people were already in front so I decided to go to the left side of the stage so I could see better because all the people were taller than I was. It was ok but it would have been excellent if I got to the front as the stage was really low. Bowie came on..I think it was in this concert that he forgot some lyrics of Quicksand...he was wearing a different outfit and wearing black sandals this time. Same schoolboy look. People were touching his toes and he was laughing...by the end of the song he removed his shoes..hhehe his toenails were painted black. This was also a good show. He played for about 2 hours with 2 encores. The versions of Fame and Stay are mind-blowing. I also love O Superman. But I wish he'd stop doing The Man Who Sold the World! :p
Anyway, I got to the first row, directly in front of the left speaker. I am deaf now, I tell you. The 2nd encore he did consisted of the drum and bass everybody was talking about Fame (Is it any Wonder?!) and V-2 Schneider. I think the people got bored a bit with this because everybody were pretty quiet and they didn't ask him for another encore. Hehe. I got back to the hotel safely, thanks to Pedro and friends. I couldn't sleep because my left ear was still ringing.
July 16 Zaragoza: TAXI! By 5 am, I got up as my train for Zaragoza leaves at 7 am. I didn't realize it would take some time for the metro to get to the train station so I missed my train, good thing there was a 9 am trip so I took that one instead. I arrived in Zaragoza at about 11:30, I asked about the trains going to San Sebastian the next day and discovered that there were only 2. Either I take the 2 am trip or the 4 p.m. one. Guess what I took??? So that's settled, I didn't look for any more hotel, just left my bag at the station and went to the venue and bought my ticket. Got something to eat. By 4 p.m., I saw a guy near the door and finally sighed in relief that I finally have somebody to talk to. It turned out, this guy, Astroboy, goes to the chat room and I once asked him about the tickets in Spain. We were both laughing about this. People started filing up, I was just happy there, talking to people about Bowie. This is very new to me as I don't have anybody here to talk to about him. It was like a whole new world.
By 7 p.m., they let us in. This time, I was in the 2nd row, really in front of Bowie. I was close as I could see his chest hair (stop drooling, Earthling!) and really saw how different his eyes looked. This was a good concert, this time, his PA already had lyrics for Quicksand and the guitar chords in case he forgets them again J. During the soundcheck, we could hear him singing Outside and look Back in Anger but he didn't sing them tonight. Almost the same setlist as last night's but no drum and bass this time. He only did one encore. I call his costume for this show his " just got out of bed look". As usual, he's still smoking like anything. He also did the same "what's your name" game and during Fame, he would shout: "Who's been sleeping on my bed? Is it you, Gail?" And Gail just shakes her head. Also did a lot of joking with Reeves.
He did one encore. The concert lasted for about 2 hours and 1 minute. I saw Gilly again and she asked me if I want to go with them, I was shy and a bit worried that if I agree and if I lose them or something, I will miss my train and therefore miss the concert so I declined her invitation. I will regret this for the rest of my life as she asked me to go with them thrice and these 3 times, they met Bowie every night. Anyhow, I was trying to flag a taxi and out of desperation, I couldn't care less if I was in the middle of the street looking like an idiot waving my arms for a taxi. I finally got lucky and with the help of some Spanish friends that I met before the concert, I got a taxi and got to the station in time. Can you imagine, one minute I'm excited, the next minute I'm scared, the next minute I'm paranoid....my senses and emotions were really exercised in this trip. All kinds of emotions in one day, good thing I didn't end up in a nuthouse. Attendance: 7,000
July 17 San Sebastian IT'S MINE! IT'S MINE! IT'S MINE!
Took the night train to San Sebastian. Didn't get to sleep until 4 am. Arrived in SS at about 8 am, raining. Went to the hotel which was about one minute walk from the venue. Slept for a bit, went to get my ticket, ate lunch then slept again. By 4 p.m., decided to go to the venue to line up. There were about 7 people there and we could hear DB inside the hall singing Look Back in Anger. Here, I met Acrobat from Portugal. By 7 p.m., they let us in determined to be really in front this time, I ran like anything. Don't know if I can run that fast again in this lifetime. I succeeded and got to the very front of the stage, middle of the stage. Really in front of Bowie. Again at 9:45 he went onstage. This time, the show was really short, he played for 1 hour and 36 minutes.
This concert will be special because while he was singing Fashion (god, I don't remember what song it was due to extreme excitement), since he was standing near Gail, somebody from that side threw a shirt. White shirt with the cover of Earthling at the back. He got it and played with it for a bit...I was expecting him to throw it back to that side of the stage but he didn't. He walked from Gail's side and went in front of me and threw the shirt just a little bit for me to catch it. And I did!! Hehe these two girls beside me were grabbing it but I was holding it tight and shouting IT'S MINE! IT'S MINE! They finally realized that I'd kill anybody who would take that shirt away from me so they let go, hehe. After the concert, it's the time when I finally got my concert memorabilia, shirts, pin and poster and of course, the shirt he threw which I hid under my coat . I saw the tour bus and decided to wait. There were about 10 people there waiting for him but the barriers were kinda far from the bus so I knew he wouldn't go near us or anything but I still waited. The band came out then he went out...we called him, he just waved and smiled. So I was happy as a cloud.
Attendance: 7,000 --loudest cheers I've ever heard.
July 18 Back to Madrid
July 21-25 Barcelona, Spain
July 26 Last stop Paris , France
July 28 Lyon, France: Up the Hill Backwards
I am getting a bit sad as tomorrow's concert will be my second to the last one. I went to see the venue but My God, I had to climb that hill as the Fourviere was at the very top. It took me about 30 minutes to get up there. Little did I know that there was a tram going up and it takes the tram only about 1 minute to get to Fourviere. Geez. Anyhow. The next day, I went to the venue to line up. It as about 1:30 p.m. but the line is already long...maybe about 30 people. We didn't get any shade so we were all feeling hot and frying.
Opened gates at 7 p.m. The way to the stage was shit as we had to walk down this rocky goddamn path and climb about 50 steps, walk a bit then go down the stairs. God. The Guest DJs played for a looooong time. Since this is an open air venue, Bowie didn't come out until maybe 10 p.m., when it's a bit darker. It was a good show...but I didn't get a good view as I was standing in front of the right speaker this time. Now my ear defect is balanced. :-/ I'm totally deaf, hehe. I met the same people from the shows in Madrid. I also met a British girl who's seen almost all of the shows in Europe. This time Bowie did Outside and Look Back in Anger. The show lasted for about 1hour and 45 minutes. I think this show sold out. Totally packed.
July 29 Juan Les Pins, Antibes: Missing lines
I arrived at this place about 12 pm. The stage was near the beach. Quite nice. A lot of people were already there. But the stupid thing was that there were no barriers or anything so we didn't know where to line up. I was getting a bit annoyed because it was quite unfair. I knew at this point that I won't get near the stage. I met another fan from Italy and also saw the same faces from last night's concert. A lot of Italian fans came to this concert. By 7 pm, the security finally set up the gates on the street, can you imagine, people were pushing each other trying to get to the front of the line (what line??) and it was really rough.
So when I finally went past the gate, I got to the third row in front of where Bowie is always staying. I thought it was a good place but it was not. I stood there for about 3 hours, sweating like anything as I was surrounded by giants. When Bowie finally came on at about 9:50 p.m., people started pushing and elbowing each other to get closer. That's the time I was getting squashed and I thought I was going to black out. I wanted to go to the back but couldn't anymore so I just stayed there and took it all in. I was really feeling bad that I already didn't care if I see Bowie or not while he was singing. Good thing his bodyguard was handing cups of water to people and I got to drink a little, guess that helped a lot. It was a good show but the people were really shit so it's a real downer.
After the show, again waited for Bowie to come out, he again waved and smiled. Iman was there so he wasn't very intimate with Gail in this concert...and I wonder why the "who's been sleeping on my bed?" line during Fame disappeared. Hmmm....hehe. Talked to one of the stage crew. Said that Bowie's going to Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. Australia is still a MAYBE. Reeves is working with Bowie until January, at least, so he won't start recording his new album until then.
After this concert, I stayed for about 5 more days in Paris before I went home.
I hope you enjoyed reading this. And thanks to the people who helped me over there! I really appreciate it! And for those of you who wished me luck before I left, thanks also, I used them up!
If you want to see the pics and concert reviews, email me and I can send you scanned copies and/or photocopies of the articles and copies of the pics. Sorry but I don't have any recordings of any of the shows I've seen, my recorder was confiscated in Torhout...Grrr...