When David Bowie Interrupted a Detroit Show to Break Up a Fight
His band says that David Bowie had every single night of the 1978 tour recorded. We'd bet he remembers the concert in Detroit that almost escalated into a riot.
The 1978 world tour was officially called Isolar II, a continuation of the 1976 trek in support of the album Station to Station. It was more commonly known as the Low/Heroes World Tour or the Stage Tour. Beginning in North America at the end of March, the band would be in Europe by mid-May, followed by Bowie's first trip to Australia in November before wrapping up in Japan just before Christmas. One night in Detroit will never be forgotten.
A bootleg recording of the concert on April 20, 1978 finds the band, including Adrian Belew on guitar, in excellent form as they launch into "Heroes" after an instrumental introduction. The first half of the show continues without incident, highlighting tracks from recent albums Low and Heroes. At the end of the five-song set from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars that begins after intermission is where the trouble starts.
Noticing a scuffle near the stage, David Bowie stops the song and yells at the ruffians. “Hold it! You. Hold it! That is not necessary. Too many [expletive] people in [expletive] places like this this! Don’t do it!" The YouTube uploader describes the tense scene:
...there is quite a panicky atmosphere. Bowie proceeds with "Suffragette City," although "Panic in Detroit" would’ have been more to the point! The show goes on in a lovely version of "Rock & Roll Suicide," but the audience still won’t quiet down and all the time Bowie is obliged to dodge objects that come flying at him.
The aggressive tone is incredibly out of character for Bowie and shows just how incensed he was by the lack of respect and the threat to the safety of his fans. The band escaped Detroit with their lives and their gear intact after just a few more songs. "Rebel Rebel" was typically played during this tour, but not on an unforgettable night in Detroit that could have been a lot worse. Listen to a live bootleg of the entire show below- skip ahead to 1:10:14 to hear the incident.
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