Planned Accidents


Around 1995, David Bowie engaged in an internet conversation with art professor Brian Eno about performance art and technology. Topics discussed included Hermann Nitsch and "Joe the Lion" subject Chris Burden (who had himself shot in a bar and crucified to the roof of a Volkswagen in the name of performance art).


David ellucidated on the theme of the conversations in an interview in Atlanta in 1997. The gist of his statement follows in a loose ‘quote’."In the fifties, people had a sense of hope, that we were going somewhere with a bright future. That is not the case today. Not only do we not have a hope anymore, but we are bombarded by information at such a voracious rate, that people feel that the only thing they have control over is thier bodies. That is why you are wearing what you are wearing in your nose. Art has turned in on itself."

The result of those conversations with Eno produced David’s schizophrenic masterpiece on performance art entitled OUTSIDE. The premise of OUTSIDE revolves around Art Crime detective Nathan Adler, who is assigned to investigate the ritual dismemberment of 14 year old Baby Grace Blue. Her disassembled body left on display outside of the Oxford town museum of modern parts. Adler’s job, to determine…"is it performance art with a willing participant, or murder?" The first part is presented out of sequence so no one knows exactly what order the songs are meant to be played. Once again, every effort was made to open up the creative muse. On the Jay Leno show in 1995 Bowie revealed more about the studio process. "On the first day we put out carpets, hung wallpaper and decorated the studio. When you ask a band to jam, you get kind of a blues thing generally, so Brian made out character cards for each musician. For example, the keyboard player was given a card that said,’you have been playing in a south afrikaan band, now you can play ALL the notes you weren’t allowed to play before’, and he would enter the music from that place." David used a Mac verbasizer that long-time axeman Reeves Gabrels had developed for him that allowed him to enter lyrics, as well as other materials and mix them up repeatedly to develop fractured phrases on the fly that he normally would not have come up with. He played all the characters, assuming thier identities and letting thier made up personalities overtake him as he was recording.

Many unreleased outtakes recorded for the rest of the proposed "tryptych" exist. The beauty of the resulting tour was that the songs actually were fleshed out on stage. During the second leg of the tour much of the band was cut, which actually helped the music rather than hinder it.

It was true performance art and remains his finest hour IMO, and I am not alone!

David is from another planet, love it! a genius, a vanguard.

Sometimes Bowie sets me free odd sensations, like if incoming “memories of a future”… seem to light quanta from the Dimension of the potentials, which appear and disappear.

Certainly, his music has something that moves the hearts of stars and touches the human one.

You are right! This song has an explosive power, and a rhythm that goes faster and harder…OMG! And David´s movements…no words to explain!

Collision of rhythms like an overwhelming locomotion: music-“outside” the compromission with mainstream, non-linear, coloured by tribal sounds. Quick flash of poetic noirish images. Vigorous version, brilliant, throbbing.

What a voice and what a high level of energy…. leaves me speechless every time I listen to it (and I have listened to it a lot of times). Sublime!

David is awesome, wonderful, exotic. This man is unique, all his passion on the stage, he gives all of his energy, he really feels what he is singing. Thanks for the video friend!

What a voice, what a performance. There is no one that can be compared to him. He is absolutely unique. When he sings “I shake”, then I shake, too !


Look Back in Anger, Scary Monsters, Diamond Dogs, The Heart Filthy Lesson, Outside, Aladdin Sane, Andy Warhol, The Voyeur of Utter Destruction, The Man Who Sold the World, Telling Lies, Baby Universal, Hallo Spaceboy, Breaking Glass, We Prick You, Jump They Say, Lust for Life, Under Pressure, “Heroes”, White Light White Heat, Moonage Daydream, All the Young Dudes.

this whole  gig is brilliant ,i can remember recording it on video ..totally awesome show

I fully agree: whole DVD is one of the most indicative legacies of the grandeur of the Master, a diamond which offers an essay and a testimony exhaustive on what we can call the “Art of Rock”, regardless of fashions and of timing.

I remember buying the “boot” of this show and being so overwhelmed I told my brother “this is my favorite Bowie cd!” To which he replied, “They’ve ALL been your favorite!”

In some respects he was dead on, but this was “outside” any areas of excellence he had visited previously. My oldest friend had returned at a crucial moment and supplied the last and most powerful reason I needed to attempt a successful comeback to creativity.

6 thoughts on “Planned Accidents

  1. I saw the tour with NIN…people were walking out in droves because he wasn’t playing hits or encores…it was a great show ..Reeves blew me away….met him later…he’s a great guy….WC.

    • Such was the case for much of the American tour. I had a friend who recorded the Portland show. He wiped out Voyuer to record Under Pressure (I could have strangled him). Europeans are different (that’s why I have always considered myself European). No one is leaving the Loreley festival! He also performed encores for them, is it any wonder (why)?

      P.S. Iggy Pop opened for David at Loreley and put on a smoking set as well, I have only a portion of the show. Anyone got the whole thing?

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