Live: Tower Theater, Upper Darby

David Bowie performed at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, on 8 July 1974.

It was the 21st date of the Diamond Dogs Tour, which had kicked off in Montreal on 14 June, and the first of six consecutive nights at the Tower Theater.

The musical director was Michael Kamen, who also played electric piano, Moog synthesizer, and oboe. Earl Slick played guitar, and Mike Garson was on piano and Mellotron. The bass guitarist was Herbie Flowers, and the drummer was Tony Newman.

The backing singers were Geoff MacCormack (billed as Warren Peace) and Gui Andrisano. The line-up was completed by David Sanborn and Richard Grando on saxophone and flute, and percussionist Pablo Rosario.

All but the last night of Bowie’s residency at the Tower were recorded, with the results issued on the David Live album.

In the summer David recorded his shows at the Philadelphia Tower Theater; I was not able to attend. It was reported at the time that my car broke down travelling from New York, but I don’t recall that ever happening. David just took it upon himself to record the show for posterity, and then liked what he heard and decided to mix it into his first live album. There was one problem with this idea in that it was recorded very poorly, not that the performances were anything less than excellent on most of the songs.
Tony Visconti
Bowie, Bolan And The Brooklyn Boy

The live recordings almost never happened, however. Defries failed to tell the musicians that their performances were to be recorded. When bass guitarist Herbie Flowers saw the additional on-stage microphones he realised what was planned and told the other musicians. A threatened strike was only averted after Defries grudgingly agreed to pay an increased rate of $5,000 per musician; the cheques later bounced.

Bowie was furious during the exchange, reportedly kicking a chair and shouting at Flowers: “I’ve bloody well got to go on in ten minutes. I don’t need this shit!” Nonetheless, the show went on, with just a 30-minute delay, and may even have benefited from the backstage tension.

I can claim to be a genius for setting up the tension before we did the show, because when we went on stage, the feeling of liberation in the band was glorious.
Herbie Flowers
Bowie, Jerry Hopkins

Bowie had first played at the Tower Theater during the Ziggy Stardust Tour on 30 November, 1, and 2 December 1972, and again on 16, 17, 18, and 19 February 1973.

On 19 March 1977 Iggy Pop’s The Idiot Tour called at the Tower. Bowie played keyboards during the tour. Tin Machine’s It’s My Life Tour also came to the venue on 15 and 17 November 1991.

Bowie’s final show at the Tower Theater was the penultimate date of the Heathen Tour on 21 October 2002.

The setlist

Last updated: 25 May 2023
Live: Scope Arena, Norfolk, Virginia
Recording: Everything That Touches You, Give It Away, Sweet Thing by Ava Cherry
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