Live: Earls Court, London

David Bowie performed at London’s Earls Court on 1 July 1978, as part of the Isolar II Tour.

This was the 65th date of the tour, which began on 29 March in San Diego. It was also the last of three consecutive nights at the venue, and the final night of the tour’s European leg. The other Earls Court dates were 29 and 30 June.

Among the audience members on this night were Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor, and other stars including Iggy Pop, Dustin Hoffman, Ian Dury, and Bob Geldof. This show was the first time Bowie performed ‘Sound And Vision’ live.

Bowie’s guitarists were Carlos Alomar and Adrian Belew. Simon House was on electric violin, Sean Mayes played piano, and Roger Powell was on keyboards and synthesizers. George Murray played bass guitar and Dennis Davis was on drums.

This and the previous night were recorded by Tony Visconti, and released on the 2018 live album Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78).

The gig was sensational, the final high of the tour. The surge to the front started almost immediately so we played to a seething crowd of excitement. The first half was magnificent, the second just wild.

During the second encore, a kid in the crowd threw his sailor hat to David, who took off his own and put it on, then he came over and put his cap on my head at a careless angle.

As he turned back, Leroy appeared with an armful of caps and David handed them out.

As ‘Rebel Rebel’ ended he threw his cap into the crowd and we all did the same as we ran off… This time we didn’t dive into the cars – David wanted to go out again.

‘What can we do?’ he wondered. ‘Can anyone remember ‘Sound And Vision’?’

So that night, and no other, we played ‘Sound And Vision’, the ridiculous Mantovani strings singing over the rapturous crowd, and I was taken back to a night a year ago in a bar in Copenhagen when I heard this playing and wondered if David ever remembered a group called Fumble and a piano player called Sean.

Sean Mayes
Life On Tour With Bowie

Bowie had first performed at Earls Court during the Ziggy Stardust Tour on 12 May 1973.

The setlist

Last updated: 18 October 2023
Live: Earls Court, London
Album release: Stage
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