“So where were the spiders”
Thirty years ago today, on Duncan Jones’s 16th birthday (Happy 46th, Duncan), David Bowie kicked off his Glass Spider World Tour at the Feyenoord Stadium, in Rotterdam. On the day, Duncan was introduced to the audience for an enthusiastic 60,000-strong singalong of Happy Birthday.
Launched in support of the Never Let Me Down album, neither the tour nor the album are remembered fondly in some quarters.
However, both have plenty of fans and though he wasn’t too kind about either at various points, David Bowie did come to the defence of the tour in 1997, arguing that it worked better in smaller indoor venues:
“I’d designed it to be an all-enveloping kind of spectacular, inasmuch as it was a bit three-ring circus, there were always three or four events happening at the same time on stage...Individually there were some incredibly good ideas on that stage, and in a small environment it really worked well...but when you're a thousand rows back it just becomes this huge mass of confusion.”
The tour’s set was spectacular by any standards. Described at the time as “the largest touring set ever,” it was designed to look like a giant spider. It was 60 feet (18.3m) high, 64 feet (19.5m) wide and included giant vacuumed tube legs that were lit from the inside with 20,000 feet (6,096m) of colour-changing lights.
The setlist consisted of much from the 80s’ Bowie canon and regular live favourites, but it also included a few surprises with the likes of All The Madmen, Big Brother, Chant Of The Ever Circling Skeletal Family, Sons Of The Silent Age (with vocal contributions from guitarist and school friend, Peter Frampton), Time and occasionally, Iggy and The Stooges’ I Wanna Be Your Dog.
If you’ve never seen this show, it’s certainly worth tracking down the DVD to make up your own mind about it.