Recorded: 27 June 2000
Mixed by: Mark Plati
David Bowie: vocals
Earl Slick: guitar
Mark Plati: guitar, bass guitar
Gail Ann Dorsey: bass guitar, guitar, vocals
Mike Garson: piano, keyboards
Sterling Campbell: drums
Holly Palmer: vocals, percussion
Emm Gryner: vocals, keyboards
- ‘Wild Is The Wind’
- ‘Ashes To Ashes’
- ‘This Is Not America’
- ‘Absolute Beginners’
- ‘Always Crashing In The Same Car’
- ‘The London Boys’*
- ‘I Dig Everything’*
- ‘Little Wonder’
- ‘The Man Who Sold The World’
- ‘Hallo Spaceboy’
- ‘Cracked Actor’
- ‘I’m Afraid Of Americans’
- ‘All The Young Dudes’*
- ‘Let’s Dance’
BBC Radio Theatre, London, June 27, 2000 is a live album by David Bowie originally released in 2000, and reissued in expanded form in 2021.
The concert was recorded two days after Bowie’s headline set at the Glastonbury Festival, and was before an invited audience.
Fifteen of the songs were released as a bonus CD with initial copies of Bowie At The Beeb on 26 September 2000.
The set was reissued in November 2021 as part of the box set Brilliant Adventure (1992-2001). BBC Radio Theatre, London, June 27, 2000 was spread over two compact discs or three vinyl discs.
The 2021 version, however, was not the complete concert. Bowie forgot the lyrics during ‘Ziggy Stardust’, which was performed twice, the first incomplete. There was also a truncated ‘All The Young Dudes’ followed by and an instrumental version of ‘The Jean Genie’, while Bowie dealt with “a tickle in my throat” – he was suffering from laryngitis and bronchitis at the time.
Typical conversation two months before the BBC show was announced:
A fan: “pssst, Blammo, have you heard anything about David doing a tiny fan-club show in London?” …Total Blam Blam: “Nope, nothing like that happening I’m afraid” …A disappointed fan: “Oh you wouldn’t say anything even if he was!”
Right enough, but hell, how do they always find out? The announcement finally came less than a week before the show. Hopelessly oversubscribed… more than ten thousand peoploids (it seemed that way at least) applied for a mere 130 places. The random selector did its job and selected those oh-so-lucky-few. The sorrow contained within the e-mails of those not so lucky was heart-wrenching. I felt like surrendering my own place to the author of every one of them… sort of.
By cruel contrast the joy of the winners was wonderful to witness… remember the bit when Charlie gets the last Golden Ticket to visit Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory? Well it was a bit like that, 130 times. Fans travelled from all over Europe, The United States and Canada, and even Australia and Japan for this one show! How committed is that?
I arrived early at the BBC, and as ever I was overwhelmed by the architectural beauty of this cathedral of sound in Portland Place, and particularly by the wonderful carvings of Prospero and Ariel. I had a quick chat with a pride of eager fans waiting for a glimpse of the man, and slipped inside to an already sound-checking band. And what a band they are. Bowie Veteran Earl Slick, who toured with David in both the seventies and eighties, has confessed that this is the best band he has worked with, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear if Mike Garson, who has been a member of even more versions of the Bowie band, felt the same way.
The morning sped through the afternoon and soon the approaching thunder of hooves indicated that the front doors had been opened. It was a delight to see the looks on the faces of those who had only just realised quite how small an event this was. The 130 seats reserved downstairs for lucky BowieNet members were spied jealously by the celebrities and industry folk who were ushered upstairs, clearly envious of us nearer-the-action fans.
Not that the celebs present aren’t fans too. Boy George, (self-appointed number-one-fan-on-Earth in fact) has recorded his own versions of Starman, the Bowie/Pop penned Funtime, and now Letter To Hermione… Two bits of Duran Duran were there, Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes specifically, they have performed Fame, Rebel Rebel and Diamond Dogs at various points in their careers. Lulu, who charted with the Ziggy-produced The Man Who Sold The World was there too.
The list goes on: Yasmin Le Bon who obviously accompanied aforementioned husband Simon, Bob Geldof, Nick Moran and Richard E Grant. Russell Crowe chose the event to go public with Meg Ryan. Marc Riley, the bigger half (five eighths in fact) of top pop Radio One duo Mark ‘n’ Lard (they play a lot of Bowie) crept in, he’s a big fan. Lard allegedly attempted to gain entrance to the stalls with his old fan club membership card from 1973! But there was no fooling the keen-eyed Curly Stockton, resplendent in his uniform of black leather, as he led the sobbing DJ back upstairs.
There was a buzz. I mean a real buzz of true excitement as the pre-recorded warm-up music faded to silence. Library quiet for a few moments, the venue explodes with a roar as pianist Mike Garson took to the stage. Mike has chosen to commence these recent shows with what he feels is a relevant piece of music. From the inspired choice of I’ll Take Manhattan at the Roseland shows in New York, to the Englishness of Greensleeves at Glastonbury. Tonight it’s Gershwin’s A Foggy Day In London Town.
The rest of the band enter stage left and are poised to stroke as A Foggy Day decays seamlessly into the intro of Wild Is The Wind… and then he is there, elegant in a simple black box jacket and trousers, contrasting neatly against a crisp white shirt and a mane of golden hair tumbling about his shoulders. Bowie deeply and grinning the widest of grins, he approaches the microphone like he is on-the-pull… ‘Love me, love me, love me, love me… Say you do…” And we do.
This is an audience that Bowie never had the task of winning over, they were with him from the off, and who could not be moved by Bowie’s genuine surprise as the crowd pre-empted him on the line “Don’t you know, your life itself…” Echoes of “Me… me… me… me…” from the end of My Death at that final Ziggy show back in 1973 at the Hammersmith Odeon. By now fears that the recurrence of Laryngitis upon Bronchitis upon itis upon itis, may restrict David’s vocal performance were swept aside as he effortlessly scaled the high notes to the top of “For we’re like creatures in the wind…”
If you were at Glastonbury you will know that David undoubtedly triumphed. Glastonbury was perceived by most as a ‘greatest hits’ show, and while this date at the BBC contained fewer hits, there were surely as many classics performed. Gone were such crowd-pleasers as China Girl, Changes, Life On Mars?, Rebel Rebel, Golden Years and Station To Station, to be replaced by lesser known songs such as the recent hit Seven, the rarely performed This Is Not America, Always Crashing In The Same Car, Survive and Cracked Actor.
This is the beauty of the Bowie back catalogue. A random selection throughout the years would have produced a show just as entertaining as this. But don’t take my word for it, listen for yourself and understand why 250 people left the theatre that evening knowing that they had just witnessed the sort of magic that seems so very hard to find these days.