The members of TOMTIT recently convened at the bucolic, bubonic Cottage of Electric Hell for a weekend of hiking, drinking and sheep worrying. At around 3.30 one morning we decided to watch the film of David Bowie’s Glass Spider Tour. No, wait, come back, we can explain…actually, we can’t. It was a mad decision, utterly devoid of logic. It was, of course, all Fearlono’s idea.
The Glass Spider Tour took place in 1987, in support of a pretty mediocre but relatively well selling album called ‘Never Let Me Down’. It was a tour of excess: the most expensive ever staged, with an enormous amount of money spent on an vast illuminated spider that stood over the stage and the performers and was so big that it wouldn’t fit into most venues, so they had to build another, smaller one.
The tour was an amalgam of music, theatre, dance and, gulp, mime and, to be frank, was shit. Virtually every single thing about it detracts from the power and beauty of Bowie’s music, from the insistence on performing mediocre tracks from the new album to fucking up stone cold classics with unsympathetic arrangements and embarrassing dance routines. Special attention should be paid to a really dire version of ‘Rebel Rebel’ in which David and dancers high kick their way around the stage like demented Moulin Rouge dancers who have been co-opted into the Nazi party. The song ends with one last stupendous, stratospheric kipper splitting kick from Dave, which the film makers freeze and fade out on, inadvertently giving the impression that Bowie has kicked a hole in the fabric of time and space, and is now stuck in some sort of aerobic limbo.
David Bowie, usually so cool, looks ridiculous, his hair teased into a huge quiff, wearing a disgusting red suit with matching boots tipped and heeled in silver. He keeps smiling, too, but it is not a smile of joy or contentment, it is an apologetic, embarrassed smile, a sheepish, conciliatory smile, as if he knows that he is desperately wrong but hopes that you love him enough to forgive him.
The music never stops – it’s all obligato, no staccato – and everyone on stage (about thirty people it seems) are all playing, all the time, filling every millisecond of music with a noodle or a paradiddle. When the tireless Carlos Alomar and indefatigable Peter Frampton (who resembles Jack from ‘On The Buses’) solo it is like being trapped in a lunatic’s migraine.
We are huge fans of David Bowie, but we are also purists, and deeply suspicious of his post ‘Scary Monsters’ output. The ninety minutes we spent gawping at the Glass Spider Tour more than justify that stance. It is not that we didn’t enjoy it, in fact we found it utterly fascinating and gobsmackingly compelling, like the Hindenberg disaster. Oh, the humanity!
Anyway, here’s something we made, culled from the audio track of the tour. If you have any issues with it, contact David directly: he said these things, we just stuck them together. If Iman answers – hang up.