Welcome To The Blackout (Live London '78) album coverRecorded: 30 June, 1 July 1978
Producers: David Bowie, Nigel Reeve

Released: 21 April 2018

David Bowie: vocals, Chamberlin
Adrian Belew: lead guitar, vocals
Carlos Alomar: rhythm guitar, vocals
George Murray: bass guitar, vocals
Roger Powell: keyboards, synthesizer, vocals
Dennis Davis: drums, percussion
Simon House: electric violin
Sean Mayes: piano, string ensemble, vocals

Tracklisting:

Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78) was a triple vinyl album released for Record Store Day on 21 April 2018.

The recording

The live performances date from Bowie’s Isolar II Tour in 1978. They were recorded by Tony Visconti in RCA’s mobile unit over two nights – 30 June and 1 July 1978 – at London’s Earls Court Arena.

The second show, on 1 July, was the final night of the tour’s European leg. Among the audience members were Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor, and other stars including Iggy Pop, Dustin Hoffman, Ian Dury, and Bob Geldof.

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.
Sean Mayes
Life On Tour With Bowie

During the first set of the final show, Bowie turned to his band and asked if they knew how to play ‘Sound And Vision’.

Here’s something we haven’t done before… This is all last-night stuff, folks!
David Bowie

The live recordings were subsequently mixed by Bowie and David Richards from 17-22 January 1979, at Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland.

The film

The London concerts were also filmed, and were to be part of Stage, a planned 90-minute documentary on Bowie’s Isolar II tour. Bowie and director David Hemmings hoped to have the film in cinemas later in 1978, but it was still unfinished in early 1979.

We had great ambitions in the beginning to do some kind of surreal thing but what we’ve ended up with is a very straightforward film of the concert as it stands and I hope that it sort of matches the album [Stage]. There’s a little bit more to do with the editing, then it’s ready. I don’t know when it’s going to come out, exactly.
David Bowie
Interview with Nicky Horne, Capital Radio, 13 February 1979

According to Hemmings, “At the end of it he didn’t like the cut, or he didn’t like the fact that we had to cut in between numbers in order to get all the coverage. So he never released it.” In 2000 Bowie said of the film: “I simply didn’t like the way it had been shot. Now, of course, it looks pretty good and I would suspect that it would make it out some time in the future.”

The release

Welcome To The Blackout contains the first live performance of Bowie’s ‘Sound And Vision’. It was previously included in the 1995 compilation RarestOneBowie, as was the album’s version of ‘Be My Wife’.

David Bowie is listed as the producer on the album’s credits, along with Nigel Reeve and Tom Cyrana, who are credited with producing it for release for Warner Music and RZO Music respectively.

Welcome To The Blackout was one of four Bowie vinyl releases for Record Store Day on 21 April 2018. The others were a 12″ single containing a ‘Let’s Dance’ demo and live version; a reissue of the US promo compilation Bowie Now; and Bowie’s debut LP for Deram on coloured vinyl.

The album was reissued as a double compact disc set on 29 June 2018.