This video is a newly restored version of David Bowie’s TVC 15, live in Tokyo 1978, synced to an improved sound source of the same show.
This performance of TVC 15 was the last song of the last show of Bowie’s last tour with his mighty band, The D.A.M. Trio.
That show happened at the NHK Hall in Tokyo on this night, the 12th of December 1978.
David Bowie’s Isolar II 1978 World Tour, also known as The Low / “Heroes” World Tour or The Stage Tour, opened on the 29th of March, 1978 at the San Diego Sports Arena. The tour continued through North America, Europe and Australia and New Zealand before reaching a conclusion at the NHK Hall in Tokyo, on the 12th of December, 1978. Eighty dates were played, with a total attendance of almost 1.2 million people.
When I first heard the original version of David Bowie’s TVC 15 from the Station to Station album, the crazy rhythm initially reminded me of the offbeat and jerky 1970 novelty hit, In the Summertime, by Mungo Jerry. So then it amazes me how Bowie took TVC 15, and by the time we get to the Isolar II ’78 tour, had re drafted it into a massive set-closing stomping rock monster.
The version of TVC 15 from the ’78 live LP Stage, produced by Bowie and Tony Visconti, has long been a favorite track of mine. It would be great to sync that version to some decent live ’78 concert footage, as I have done with many tracks from that album. But alas the only good footage that’s in circulation is this Tokyo NHK Hall which has (on about every other track, including TVC 15) indelible Japanese subtitles.
(NB. despite recent discussions on a Bowie fan site, it is in fact impossible to remove these subtitles. I know that, because I have tried).
Sometimes my Bowie video making gets a negative rap from some quarters, for being inauthentic, for “fucking with history” as I think someone put it. Well, that’s fair criticism, but the thing is I am a subscriber of the “not letting the truth get in the way of a good story” philosophy, if you see what I mean?
Having said that, Japanese footage with large continuous Japanese subtitles, synced with an entirely different audio source is an inauthenticity line that even I’m not comfortable to cross.
So I went with an audio of the same concert. The sound on the Tokyo TV broadcast footage is pretty terrible. The FM radio broadcast of the same show is an improvement, but that doesn’t get around the fact that the production and mix isn’t great. And moreover the performance that night – despite pianist Sean Mayes claims in his book “Life on Tour with Bowie”, that the NHK Hall show was one of the best of the tour – from the evidence we have, just doesn’t sound that great.
I asked fellow life-long Bowie obsessive and producer Particledots to try to rescue the music from out of the dirty compressed soup of the FM broadcast recording, and he has really improved the situation a lot, for which I’m very grateful.
And since we are going 100% Tokyo on this one, I turned the Japanese dial up to 11, by adding a little Bowie Lost in Translation comedy moment, and a tribute to whoever the wonderful Japanese Bowie fan was, who video taped the Star Sen Ichi Ya interview for us back in the day.
Hope you dig it!
Concert footage • December 12th, 1978 • NHK Hall, Tokyo • Final night of the Isolar II 1978 tour
Interview • December 6th 1978 • Star Sen Ichi Ya • Japanese TV interview, with Hiroshi Sekiguchi, translated by Mari Christine
TV Ad • Late 70’s Japanese commercial for the Sony Betamax J5
David Bowie • TVC 15 • December 12th, 1978 • NHK Hall, Tokyo • From the Japanese FM radio broadcast • Sound salvaged by Particledots 2019
David Bowie • Vocals
Dennis Davis • Drums
Carlos Alomar • Rhythm guitar, backing vocals
George Murray • Bass
Adrian Belew • Lead guitar
Simon House • Violin
Sean Mayes • Piano, string ensemble, backing vocals
Roger Powell • Synthesizer, keyboards, backing vocals
Always more videos to follow, so please keep your electric eye on me babe!
I don’t own the rights, and I’m not making any money out of this etc. Just a fan making videos for other fans.
#DavidBowie #TVC 15 #StationtoStation #TheDAMTrio #IsolarII