The Birthday Concert

A Tale of Two Guests
By Kali and Belle

It was the best of times, it was the queasiest of times.

The Characters

Belle: An admirer of Mr. Bowie since 1973

Kali: Four months into this David Bowie stuff, and still trying to figure it all out

A Sunday Evening in December:

Belle' s phone rings...

Kali: So, when do we go see Bowie again? I ve really enjoyed some of the CDs you loaned me.

Belle: Not for awhile; you know, sometimes one goes years and years without attending a live performance. Consider yourself fortunate, you may get to see a tour in 1997.

The Next Morning at 9:15 am:

Kali's office phone rings...

Belle: Ok, Kali...sit down. You may want to schedule some vacation time in January -- looks like we re going to Mr. Bowie's Birthday party. I already have the tickets!

Kali: Of course I'm sitting down. I'm at work. We're what? You what? You're shittin me! Oh my God! Oh wow! I can't believe I'm going to another concert so soon. I can t believe it's his BIRTHDAY concert! This is unbelievable!

Note: Kali calls Belle a short time later to confirm that this conversation actually took place.

January 7, 1997: (a telephone conversation)

Kali: I guess we're all set. The weather forecast doesn't look too promising, but I do have the train schedules.

Belle: We may be all set, but I have the stomach flu..don't worry, I'll be fine..(?)

January 9, 1997, mid-afternoon:

Belle: Here we go. It's snowing, sleeting and freezing rain is coming down, cars are sliding off the highway and my stomach feels like the ocean. I'll be fine.....

Kali: Snow and this ice. Fortunate for me that Belle is driving. I mean, how bad is this weather? Besides aren't pick-up trucks supposed to be good in bad weather? We seem to be moving along. Can't wait to get on the train. Gotta love em!

On the Train:

Kali: On the train with my Roy Rogers chicken. It's warm here, I have my leg room, what more could I ask for? Isn't this exciting?? She's eating my fries. Oh well, maybe a little food will help her stomach. I love trains!

Belle: The damn train. I hate trains...I mean, how do they stay on the tracks? Wish I had known someone who could have airlifted me into the Garden. Why did I eat those french fries? Am I crazy?

Kali: Hmmmm...she's kinda quiet. I'll try some chitchat to take her mind off her stomach. Maybe I'll tell her about some of the new collections we just got in at work (I m an archivist). Hey Belle, did I tell you about the new collection we have on the 1958 Bayonne Train Wreck? It took place not far from where we are now....

At The Garden:

Belle: We made it. I'm still in one piece and the ocean in my stomach has simmered down to a rippling lake. Not a very long line to get inside; fortunately we can wander around, we're not in the mosh pit.

Kali: Damn it's cold here. She must really be ill -- she said she wanted a cigarette before we went inside and we got halfway up the stairs when she remembered she forgot to have it! It s nice not having to wait in line, although that line isn't really long. Evan Torrie said he d be here at 5:00. It's now 6:45 and I don't see him. I wonder if he had trouble getting into NYC because of the weather.

The Doors Open - Sort Of:

Belle: Is anyone coordinating this insane rush through the gate? I again thank myself for getting seats for this event, although Kali may not enjoy the show as much. Oh well, not much sympathy here...it was years before I ever saw Bowie without using binoculars! Kali spent his only two shows standing 5 feet from the stage! Besides, our seats should be good. Maybe we'll just wait this crazy rush out here in the lobby, watching the Teenage Wildlife birthday card. I really like those posters surrounding the screen...And what's this? A security sheet for the evening's event? Hmmmm....this could be a potential souvenir....

Kali: Oh, they're letting them in -- into the lobby? That's it? What was the point of making them wait outside? Now they're all mashed together with no sense of order (practice for the pit?) Oh well, might as well go in and keep warm. This is cool -- the Teenage Wildlife Birthday Card is playing on the monitors! Nice posters, too. Hmmmm..., wonder if I could liberate one as a potential souvenir...Ah, no luck. Well, maybe after the show.

Inside the Garden and Seated:

Kali: These are pretty good seats! Damn, forgot to bring my grandfather's WWII Field Artillery binoculars. Oh well. Is that a floating eye backstage? Hmmmm...there are those suspended bodies again. I wonder what they signify. Does he have that St. George icon on stage again? I can't quite see. Oh look, there's the table. I remember Belle telling me about that at the club concerts..oh, what song is that for...boy, the pit is half empty. We should be down there! Where is everyone? All the seats here are empty! Oh look! I think that's Evan down there. So, this is Placebo, eh? They're damn good! Oh no, Belle's getting up. Where is she going?

Belle: These aren't bad seats - I've had better and worse. Have a great view of the inside of the stage...look, are those eyes floating about back there? And that seems to be a coat rack... Placebo has started playing and the arena is empty yet. This is the best opening band I've heard in a long time! The pit doesn't look too filled yet either, maybe we should have gotten tickets there. I'm feeling much better, maybe I'll go get something to eat.

Kali: She's eating PIZZA?

Belle: Here we go. I can see David and the band making their way up the steps onto the stage... Little Wonder opens the evening, followed by Hearts Filthy Lesson. So far, I think that my favorite from Earthling is Little Wonder, of course I have now heard it a few times. David has on a lovely frock coat...I've always been a big fan of frock coats (didn t know that frocks had fans, did you?)

Kali: Movement back stage. But I can t quite see who's who -- ah, there he is! This is great! He s opening with Little Wonder. I love this one! This is my favourite from Earthling (not that I ve heard all that many). Hearts Filthy Lesson is good, too! I've recognized two songs already! I even know the words! Not bad for a fan of only four months! Gotta love his frock. Oh look, a coat rack! Wonder if he's got that awesome Union Jack frock on there...

Belle: The arena has filled and here's the start of the special guests. Well, you must say this for David..absolutely no one that shares his stage ever comes close to having the classic appearance or aura that he does. Even so, special guests in particular, couldn't we dress it up just a little bit? Kali should be recognizing some of these songs from the September club dates, I just can't imagine what he is seeing or hearing as he's so new to this. (Scary Monsters; Fashion)

Kali: This is great. I actually recognize these songs! I'm having flashbacks to my first two concerts. Who's that guy singing with him? He looks like a stage hand. Geez, at least tuck your shirt in!

Belle: Here come the eyes! Interesting effect, although I wish they had more staying power. With the exception of one eye, they didn't make it any farther than the pit. (Telling Lies). Time for Hallo Spaceboy, I just love the moondust coming from the audience...has such a nice effect when it shimmers in the lights, yes? (Seven Years in Tibet; The Man Who Sold the World)

Kali: Oh cool! Look at all those eyes! They won t last long, though. Telling Lies - I think I enjoyed this better the first time I heard it in Philly, but it's not bad. I really like this next song, but I don t remember the name of it. Man, that drummer is really getting into it -- he looks like Animal from the Muppets! What's with the glitter and cards? They did this at the other concerts, too!

Belle: Wonder if we'll sing Happy Birthday? Ah, now here's a hairstyle if I've ever seen one...Robert Smith...let's not be too formal, shall we? (The Last Thing You Should Do). Hmmm...this sounds a bit familiar, oh, it can't be but it is...one of my very, very favorites -- Quicksand. What a lovely duet, what spectacular lyrics. My face is wet - it's those old involuntary tears, but Kali is on cue with tissues in hand. This is the highlight of the evening for me.

Ah, that coat rack. A nice little side show watching David be assisted into his attire, primping and such. Love those frock coats!

Kali: I sure hope we get to sing Happy Birthday. Belle will be so disappointed if we don t. I wonder what he's singing now -- I don't recognize it. As I turn to Belle to ask her, I notice that she's crying. She's actually crying! Is it her stomach??? Where'd I put those tissues?

Belle: (Battle for Britain; Voyeur of Utter Destruction) This is pretty fascinating. We can t really see the cocoon, but we are looking straight on at David in the cut-out board. I must say, I am always intrigued by the special effects. Kali will enjoy the video, as we haven't been able to really see the scrim screen...I can tell what's on it (as I've seen it before), but it's been too loud for me to attempt to explain it to Kali.

Kali: What's with that big white thing? Cool, they re projecting his face on it. But why's he in that cutout? And when did he go in there? Did I blink? I must have been distracted by all those people walking around. Where are they going? Not to get drinks or food, they re coming back empty handed. Looking around, I even notice a guy behind me talking on the telephone. Go figure!

Belle: Why did I eat that pizza? The ripples in my stomach are starting to get larger. (I'm Afraid of Americans; Looking for Satellites) I have to give David credit, a benefit party where everyone expects familiar tunes only to play the entire new album...

Kali: Why did she eat that pizza? Not as many oldies as I had expected, unless I'm not recognizing them. After all, I never even listened to this stuff until last September. Oh, wait. I'm Afraid of Americans - this is from the new album. Hmmm, I wonder why he's afraid of us?

Belle: The crowd is participating now. Under Pressure and Heroes have everyone back to life. The group around us was definitely waiting for Lou Reed and I suppose I'm a bit curious. The Lou Reed album that has always stayed with me is Berlin, although few seem to remember it. Queen Bitch is done very well..I remember a time in 1990 when David began this song, but stopped mid-way. (I believe this may have been in St. Petersburg, FL) but this is really good now. Waiting For The Man seemed to be a given, didn't it? Here's a trivia question...didn't Tin Machine perform this at the end of their tour in 1991 or early 1992? (Dirty Boulevard)

Kali: Under Pressure! I can sing along again! Oh my, he's singing Heroes. I've liked this ever since Belle told me the story behind it -- Berlin Wall and whatnot. So, that's Lou Reed. Why is everyone booing him? (Oh...it s Loooooou [LOL])

Belle: Watch David sing Moonage Daydream when he was in his 20s and see him at 50 and you just know things get better with age. Fabulous!

Kali: Oh, I LOVE this one! Moonage Daydream! I don t believe this -- I ve got chills!! Oh, geez. Sigh,...if Belle asks me one more time if we're gonna sing Happy Birthday ...I wonder if I should start belting it out on my own in hopes of getting the whole place to join in. She'll be devastated if we don't sing!

Belle: Finally, we do get to sing Happy Birthday! And a cake! I haven't been to such a fun birthday party in ages! Wish we could do this every year!!!!

Kali: Thank God!

Belle: I won't bore you with my thoughts of All the Young Dudes; suffice to say that it takes me back to a juke box in a bowling alley and I'm a mere 12 years old...I just love all of this! (Jean Genie) The audience is all on their feet. So am I, but my stomach has returned to ocean status and I'm contemplating using the bag the t-shirts are in for an alternate purpose. I can't leave now...oh..

Kali: This is fantastic! I jump to my feet along with everyone else. Wow, Belle is up, too! She must be feeling better!

Belle: I watch the singing of Space Oddity from behind the scrim. I am sure he is singing with his image, but I am most moved by the silence around the stage. No one is there, just David and his audience. Never one of my favorite songs, it comes off with an almost reverent tone and is a fitting close to a spectacular evening.

Kali: Oh, how wonderful! Bowie is all alone on stage with his guitar and fans. A wonderful finale. There's 19,000 of us, but this feels so intimate. We're each alone with him.

The Departure:

Kali: I'm warm and dizzy with excitement. I really want to go to the hotel and party with the Teenage Wildlife group, but Belle is really feeling bad -- and she's my ride home. There's a guy playing the flute. The Flintstones?? Heh, wonder if Fred liked David Bowierock? In the lobby - the posters are gone. The whole display is gone. Oh well, off to get some Roy Rogers chicken for the ride home.

Belle: I'm warm and dizzy and walking down a suspended escalator doesn't help matters. Once in the air, I feel a tad better...but I need to get on that train. Poor Kali, he really isn't ready to call it a night, but I'm just not up to any festivities. We exit the Garden to the sound of a flute playing the theme from The Flintstones.. have a yabba, dabba do time... I think we did.

Disclaimer: The events described above are as our failing memories recall them, and in no way should be considered the actual sequence of events.

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This document last updated Saturday, 16-Oct-1999 21:02:31 EDT
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