Isolar II: The 1978 World Tour (AUS/NZ)

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Sydney (Fri, Nov 24 - Sat Nov 25)

Back in Sydney, Bowie and the band again stayed at the Sebel Town House at Elizabeth Bay. In it's day, the Sebel was Australia's most recognised celebrity hotel. A detailed documentary can be heard here.

Left and centre : Bowie relaxing at The Sebel. Photos sent in by Tim from Perth. Right: The Sebel when it was first designed in the 1960s.

Bette Midler

On the night of their arrival, Dennis Davis and Roger Powell jammed with Bette Midler's band in nearby King's Cross.

The gig took place at the Manzil Room which was a popular live venue and the 'in place' back in the 70s.

The following evening, Bowie, Coco and Sean Mayes saw Bette Midler live at the State Theatre.

"It was a marvelous, hilarious and dazzling show. I was amazed how Bette had managed to get familiar with all the local jokes and put-downs" said Sean.  

Bette Midler in Australia, 1978.
Photo by Bruce Butler

Peter Frampton

Peter Frampton was also in town and Bowie visited him remarking:

"He's very friendly. Just as sweet as he used to be in school!".

Sydney Showgrounds

The Sydney concerts were peformed at the original Showgrounds (est. 1882) - situated close to the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Known for the Royal Easter Show and as a speedway venue, several rock concerts took place there over the years including Led Zeppelin in 1972 (25,000 attended), ABBA (1977), KISS (1980) and the annual Big Day Out Festival (1992 - 96).

The venue closed in 1996 and has become the site of the The Fox Studios and Sydney's Entertainment Quarter. The main member's stand has been kept and converted to offices.
Above: Surviving showground buildings (from wikipedia). The venue hosted four Bowie concerts on two different tours ( 1978 and 1983).

The Concerts

The first Sydney show was reportedly subdued, but the final one was a stunner - and one of the best of the whole tour.

Sydney 1978. Photo sent in by Tim from Perth

Ticket set in by Bruce Carter.

Left and Right: Sydney 1978.

Photos sent in by Tim from Perth.

For the second encore, Bowie returned to the stage alone. Leaning on the mic stand, rapturous noise broke over him like heavy surf.

"What would you do if I sang out of tune! NO!!!"

He then started singing along to a beer commercial:

"I feel like a Tooheys, I feel like a Tooheys, I feels like a Tooheys or two"....."We'll be back next year, I promise".

Sydney. November 25, 1978. Photos by Bruce Butler.

Sydney. November 25, 1978. Photos by Bruce Butler.

Sydney. November 25, 1978. Photos by Bruce Butler.

Reviews of the Sydney shows were ecstatic. Stephen Dowse's review for an English newspaper concluding that Bowie was "undoubtedly the total master of his environment and physically and intellectually the most exciting performer in the world today".

Article sent in by Mike from England.

Ticket scans from Peter Green via Harry Williams.

Sydney. November 25, 1978. Photos by Bruce Butler.

Sydney. November 25, 1978. Photos by Bruce Butler.

Sydney. November 25, 1978. Photos by Bruce Butler.

In 1978, tickets for David Bowie's Sydney concerts cost $12.50 AUS (equal to 8 pounds UK at the time). There were over 40,000 tickets snapped up for the two shows.

While in Sydney, Bowie was awarded a plaque for "Outstanding sales" by the Australian office of RCA. It was later given to charity.

On their last day in Australia, Bowie and the band spent time at Dennis Garcia's retreat in Gosford
, NSW.

Left: Photo by Jo Bateson. Othr Sydney photos by John Larkin. To see full versions, visit John's page.

Sydney photos by Jo Bateson.


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