The Best Performances of All Time: David Bowie @ Live Aid
I'm beginning a new column where I highlight some of the best live performances in the history of rock music. And this is the performance that inspired me to do so.
Date: July 31, 1985
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London, England
Tour: LIVE AID
2. Rebel Rebel
3. Modern Love
There is an elegance, an intimacy about the performance that's almost unheard of from a rockstar with a capital "R". And yet. It's a performance for the ages, reaching past the nosebleeds to the entire world - a billion viewers via satellite. It's the slow build, the hope that we can beat them, just for one day. There's roughly six minutes of perfection before we're brought back down to the dirt, but there's that sweet hope he embodies. And we kissed, as though nothing could fall.
The intimacy comes from the music's driving beat and the synthesized guitars that reach towards heaven. Bowie has the power to make you - yes, you - think he is singing just to you. And then, there's the moment he walks away from the microphone and then returns to the mic, walking out in front of the photographers - the closest witnesses to a perfection that's long gone. The crowd explodes with the kind of energy I've never seen at any concert I've been to.
Bowie expresses a genuine joy, a lack of cynicism, the sort of passion that most of us are too embarrassed to show. There's a lack of choreography in his performance - it's free and it flows from him. There's nothing contrived or manufactured, nothing too polished. It's arms spread wide, swaying hips, finger snaps, and bouncing on the balls of feet like children.
His smile is so bright it could reach the back of the stadium. The crowd - 75,000 strong - adores him. They're swept away to whatever place Bowie will take them. They're electrified by the energy he seems to express so effortlessly.
I would be remiss not to mention the talent and enthusiasm of his band, having the time of their lives on the world's biggest stage. They will be forever cemented in history, a crucial part of a concert we remember 32 years later for its grandiosity.
It's as though Bowie can see a future beyond this all, one none of us could hope to comprehend. He was always from another planet, no matter which persona he inhabited. Watching this feels like lift-off from Earth, a trip to space, fire shooting from the back of the rocket ship, carrying us to somewhere greater than we've ever seen.
Though nothing, will keep us together
We could steal time, just for one day
We can be heroes, forever and ever