A Reality Tour
(Page 6 of 14)

Sydney Concerts: Feb 20 & 21, 2004

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In 2004, the 12,500 capacity Sydney Entertainment Centre held two back-to-back concerts of David Bowie's A Reality Tour.

Built in 1983 and situated on the fringe of Chinatown, the venue had previously staged no less than EIGHT Glass Spider shows (a personal record for Bowie in terms of most consecutive concerts at any one venue).



NIGHT ONE: Feb 20, 2004


The two David Bowie concerts in 2004 were no exercise in nostalgia - on the first night, Bowie debuted 'Fantastic Voyage', 'I've Been Waiting for You' and '5:15 Angels Have Gone' for the very first time on Australasian soil.



Bowie joked with the audience in a mock Australian accent:

"The new songs are OK, but I wish he'd do more oldies. He doesn't do many oldies does he?"

.... this followed with his 1972 smash hit 'All The Young Dudes'. As the song proceeded, Bowie noticed one person waving a pair of crutches...

"Crutches are waving the air. What more can you ask for? What an extraordinary country!".


David Bowie at Sydney Entertainment Centre.


During the band intro, Bowie recalled that his guitarist Gerry Leonard was once a professor of micropaleontology at Dublin University but threw it all away to play guitar!

"He's got some of the most amazing fossils.

That sounds really lewd doesn't it? I mean why should that sound lewd?

You want to see his fossils? But they're micro-fossils. They're tiny little - it's all that stuff that collects at the bottom of the ocean."


Bowie at Sydney Entertainment Centre.


The concert finished with a four song encore (the same as Brisbane but now substituting 'Always Crashing in the Same Car' for 'I've Been Waiting for You .... an appropriate song given the vast amount of time since his last concert on these shores!).

Following the final thank you, Bowie returned to the mic to announce:

"Great to be back....really great...... See some of you tomorrow."


Bowie at Sydney Entertainment Centre. Video by GeeFree.

View a complete transcript and set list for the first night here.

SYDNEY NIGHT TWO: Feb 21, 2004


The second night stated off similar to the first - 'Rebel Rebel' and 'New Killer Star', however, those lucky enough to witness both concerts, may have begun noticing the band's ability to add and drop songs from only the third song in.

Following 'Afraid' (from 2002's Heathen), Bowie then played 'Fame' and then 'Cactus' which drew the announcement:

"That was a song about a dress. You wait until I start the songs about the women".

He then followed with:

  Panic in Detroit*

Pablo Picasso*

All The Young Dudes

China Girl
from 1973's Aladdin Sane*,

the Jonathan Richmond cover from 2003's Reality*,

1972 single written for Mott The Hoople,

from 1983's Let's Dance


(* = brand new to the downunder portion of the tour)

Bowie at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. Photos by Daxem.


Someone in the audience then captured Bowie's attention:

"There's a goth girl ..... look I've got a goth girl in the audience. Hi darling. How you doing?

Got the teeth? ..... Oh yes I see you have."

During the band intro, Bowie kept the professor joke running from the previous night. Now Catherine Russell was introduced as a leading professor in Quattrocento Italian history!

Bowie then played 'Under Pressure' with Gail Anne substituting for Freddy Mercury (a momentous task but she does extremely well at this).

Bowie at Sydney Entertainment Centre. Photo by GeeFree2001


Seventeen songs in came the biggest surprise of all .... and with Mike Garson's introduction of two alternating notes on a vibraphone, we heard the the debut of 'Quicksand' on the Reality tour.

The song 'Days' was then followed with another surprise:


"We haven't done this for weeks. I mean weeks! Seriously, that's a long time for us".

Then in a lower tone (and perhaps in recognition of the original video and the recent Aborigine riots in Redfern):

"I see .... this one's got a lot to do with Sydney".

The band then launched into an extremely powerful version of 'Lets Dance'.

View towards Sydney Harbour - from the 1983 'Let's Dance' video.


Bowie then played the Velvet Underground's 'White Light, White Heat' which he described as being from "a million years ago".

Before commencing the next song he announced "this is not quite a million years old but it ..... (points to the sky) .... starts up there" .
Queue 'Ashes to Ashes'.

" I heard a really good version of that song 'Ashes to Ashes' - kinda hip hop by an Australian artist, I think her name was Danielle Spencer. It was really very good".


Sydney concert audience including Russell Crowe and Danielle Spencer. Photos by Daxem.

As it so happens, Danielle Spencer and her husband Russell Crowe were spotted keenly observing from the stalls.

As of 2009/10, Danielle has gone on to release a second album titled Calling All Magicians, produced by none other than legendary Bowie producer, Tony Visconti.

Danielle Spencer and Tony Visconti (January 2010).


"I would also like to very much thank Something For Kate for doing such an excellent job in Australia. (mock Australian accent...) A really good band. We're gonna keep 'em for the rest of the tour".

Two more songs to finish up the main part of the concert - 'I'm Afraid of Americans' and the 1977 classic 'Heroes'. Before leaving the stage, DB announced:

"We've had a wonderful, great pleasure being here in Sydney. Some of the band have never been here before and they've had the most excellent time"

Returning for the four song encore - audiences were in for something quite different....

Pianist Mike Garson now back in the limelight as Bowie launches into 'Bring Me The Disco King' backed by Sterling Campbell's shuffling jazzy beat.

This potentially foretelling piece of music ("soon there'll be nothing left of me....nothing left to release") was played for the first and only time on the AUS/NZ tour - something quite special whether audiences knew it or not.

Finally, an unstoppable all-Ziggy trilogy to finish things up: 'Five Years', 'Hang On To Yourself' and the closer 'Ziggy Stardust'.


Bowie at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. Photos by Daxem.

View a complete transcript and set list for the second night here.


Backstage in Sydney, Bowie met with guitarist Brendan Gallagher (local musician that added guitar to the Marius de Vries mix of "Survive"), film director Baz Lurhman, fashion designer Collette Dinnegan, actor David Spade and others. Also present were Merrick & Rosso (Nova 969 breakfast radio).

In an exclusive with Bowie Downunder, Gallagher remarked:

"[Bowie] was cool. We talked music, Earl Slick and my chord book which a journo friend gave to him in NYC a few years ago."

"He looks good even at 1 AM"

David Bowie and Brendan Gallagher. Backstage Sydney, Feb 20, 2004. Thank you Brendan for this pic!

David Bowie and Earl Slick with Russell Crowe and Daniel Spencer. Backstage Sydney, Feb 21, 2004.

David Bowie and Baz Luhrmann and David Spade.
Backstage Sydney, Feb 20, 2004


Outside The Venue


Hundreds of fans also waited outside for Bowie.

Whilst doing so, they all sang along to his 1969 hit 'Space Oddity' remarkably well and DB himself came out himself to witness.

David Bowie outside the Sydney Entertainment Centre.
Film footage of this occurrence was later shown on the television show ROVE.




In Sydney, a Bowie fan named Jen that had traveled over from the US managed to get something signed ----> her back.

She had this made into a tattoo!



SEC Foyer


While leaving the Sydney Entertainment Centre, I couldn't help but notice an arrangement of photos in the front foyer: Bowie - in his Glass Spider guise - sitting right next to his evil nemesis Phil Collins.

Adam in the foyer of Sydney Entertainment Centre.


In the local music press, a couple of Sydney clubs advertised themselves as hosting a Bowie 'after party'. The first of these was a folly - and played completely unrelated music save for maybe 'Rapture' by Blondie. The second - a local goth club - at least played some Bowie ('Fashion' and 'Hallo Spaceboy' if I recall correctly).

Sydney News

Front page of the Sydney Morning Herald Entertainment Section (following day).


Sydney atrticle sent in by Glen Freestone.



Feb 20 - More details here.

Feb 21 - More details here.



NEXT PAGE: Bowie Plays Adelaide

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