David Bowie - vocals, sax; Peter Frampton - lead guitar, backing vocals; Carlos Alomar - rhythm guitar, backing vocals; Carmine Rojas - bass guitar; Erdal Kizilcay - cornet, keyboards, trumpet; Richard Cottle - keyboards, synthesizers, sax; Alan Childs - drums, percussion
David Bowie's 1987 "Glass Spider" tour has long had a love/hate relationship with both his fans and music critics; there seemed to be no middle ground - either you loved the show, or you hated it. It was an important tour for a number of reasons, but stands apart from all other Bowie treks because it featured his old friend, Peter Frampton, on guitar. Frampton, who had fallen from selling out stadiums after Frampton Comes Alive in 1977 to playing clubs just prior to this tour, was tired of being the star and having to carry an entire show. He wanted to return to his first love, which was guitar playing. Bowie gave him the chance, asking him to simply be the lead guitarist of his backing band.
The show was almost universally panned by critics for being overblown and silly. The set design included a massive "glass spider" which descended from above the stage to "eat" the band during the show. Most of the show is hampered by a troupe of dancers who come on and off throughout the performance. Still, Bowie's stage presence is magnificent, and the music, though very odd for a large stadium show, is played with great musicianship nonetheless.
This show is a part of what was unquestionably Bowie's most adventurous tour. It opens with a recording of The Kronos Quartet's version of "Purple Haze," continues with his song "Up The Hill Backwards," and heavily features material from Never Let Me Down, which was Bowie's new LP in 1987, The show is stacked with deep album cuts from throughout his career, such as "Loving The Alien," "Scary Monsters," "All The Madmen," "Big Brother," "Time Will Crawl" and "Beat Of Your Drum."
Considering Bowie was coming back from the hugely successful Serious Moonlight / Let's Dance tour, it's surprising that he chooses to perform so many non-hits before a sold-out audience of 80,000 fans. He does, of course, play a number of hits throughout his set, including "Young Americans," "China Girl," "Rebel Rebel," "Let's Dance" and "Fame" among a few others, but in retrospect, it's remarkable that he performed nothing from 1969's Space Oddity, 1971's Hunky Dory, 1972's Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars (his commercial breakthrough), 1977's Low, and 1979's Lodger.
This performance was captured for the King Biscuit Flower Hour radio concert series, and is unique in that it features the entire show, as well as bonus tracks from the sound check. The commercial DVD of this tour cut nearly six songs, so Bowie fans rejoice. Finally, it is all here for your consumption.