David Bowie 2nd July 1983 Milton Keynes Bowl Serious Moonlight: Lets Dance!

David Bowie 2nd July 1983 Milton Keynes Bowl Serious Moonlight
Support Acts: The Beat, Icehouse
By 1983 David Bowie was of sufficient stature to play three nights at the Milton Keynes Bowl, which holds 65,000 people. The (quite colourful) ticket (see right) doesn’t tell me which day I attended, but I am pretty certain it was the Saturday, which was the second of the three gigs. My mate and I drove to Milton Keynes, which is around a 450 mile round trip. I’d been having problems with one of the brakes on my car, and unfortunately it just about locked after after around 100 miles, to the extent that I could only drive very slowly, leaving us stranded near the Wetherby roundabout. I phoned the AA who came out but could fix the car at the road side, so they told me to leave the car in a local car park, hide the keys in an agreed spot (!) and that they would come and pick it up and take it home for me. We were determined to get to the gig, so I phoned my dad, who drove down, picked us up an hour or so later and drove us to the Bowl.
I remember the day as being red hot; I recall little about the support acts, other than they were not that impressive. This was, in my view, not one of Bowie’s best performances. Bowie’s approach to the songs, and the band set up, was moving him away from being a rock star to becoming an all round singer/entertainer and broaden his audience. This worked in terms of making his music more accessible to a general audience, but lost something else along the way.
Although I enjoyed the show, I felt I’d lost the David Bowie I’d grown to love over the past 10 years. Don’t get me wrong; you couldn’t fault anything: the stage set, the performance, the band were all great. But it was David Bowie becoming an entertainer, a professional, (re)becoming Anthony Newley in terms of aiming for broad appeal; and Ziggy had become a memory. Although general consensus is that this was a great gig, I left somewhat disappointed, feeling let down. Two years later I saw Bowie in Wembley Stadium at Live Aid, and he was great again. However, there were further disappointments to come in the form of the 1987 Glass Spider tour (which I will comment on tomorrow) and Tin Machine (see my blog the other day).
After the gig we managed to find my dad who had been waiting in a local pub, having a pie and a coffee, and he drove us home. We must have got back around 4am, I would guess. The next morning my car was delivered to our house (thank you AA); I took it to the garage the next day to be repaired.
Setlist: Star; Heroes; What in the World; Golden Years; Fashion; Let’s Dance; Breaking Glass; Life on Mars?; Sorrow; Cat People; China Girl; Scary Monsters; Rebel Rebel; White Light/White Heat; Station to Station; Cracked Actor; Ashes to Ashes; Space Oddity; Young Americans; TVC15; Fame; Stay; The Jean Genie; Modern Love

21 responses to this post.

  1. This is was the one and only time I ever saw Bowie. I went on the last day (the Sunday). I remember being a bit disappointed, but then I’m not a fan of stadium gigs. Good to see the setlist because I’d completely forgotten everything he played.


  2. Good review.I was there too and yes it was a hot day. Much like you I came away somewhat let down but then this was heralding his mainstream 80’s period which moved him away from the cult artist of the years previous. I can remember watching the huge Diamond screens & thinking Bowie had turned into Danny Kaye. I can also remember blokes on the edge of the bowl silhouetted against the skyline urinating (not a great memory I grant you) and a group of yuppie types near us that spent the afternoon guzzling wine boxes to the extent that at least one of them was unconscious for the whole Bowie set. I also remembering the police/security clocking off circa midnight & leaving the backlogged exit convoy to itself.Took hours to get home diverted away from central areas of MK.


  3. Posted by Keith Wolton on September 9, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Yes, there too, a nice memory but great to see the setlist, thanks.


  4. Posted by Jayne reeve on October 15, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    I was there, a day I will never forget very hot but can’t remember if it was the Friday or the Saturday. We raced towards the front and stood for hours watching the support and then DB,s helicopter flew over and there was almighty surge and we were even more crushed. I don’t remember much more as I passed out and had to be crowd-surfed and then put in the st johns tent with the rest of the sun stroke casualties!


  5. Posted by chris meehan on October 18, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Went to all 3 of these gigs,at the front each night….remember it being red hot and crowd surges through out each one….long time in the waiting these were since the 78 tour,went to five of those.3 at stafford and 2 at earls court.


  6. Posted by chris meehan on December 15, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    went to all 3 and 3 at stafford and 2 at earls court just as you did,front each night at mk and stafford aswell.


  7. Posted by chris meehan on December 15, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    haha just realised that was my post before….what a nob lol.


  8. Posted by thatblokeintheshorts on January 11, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    We were near the back, a short walk to the Malaysian food stall and Marlboro ciggies stall. Glorious summers day, great music and entertainment.Ridiculous queue to get in, when two hours before the gates opened everybody stood up and crushed forward.Icehouse were ignored for the sake of some serious drinking, The Beat were great for a good afternoon groove in the sun. But then the main event, I was new to Bowie but really enjoyed the show. Great encore and sunset, left in a really good mood. Finally out of the stupid bumper to bumper car park about 2am.


  9. I loved the Milton Keynes Serious Moonlight Tour,2nd July 1983, though I was only a teenager so Lets Dance was my era of bowie.
    Got pulled up on stage as the crowd crushed me when he came on, so I suppose as I was so close to Bowie it made my day!


  10. Posted by Jane Ball on April 14, 2013 at 7:18 am

    I was there on the Saturday. Travelled down by train with a friend with no thought to how we were going to get home! When we realised that last train was well gone my friend phoned her brother to come and pick us up (approx 50 miles) . I remember lying across the back seat of the car shivering due to extreme sunstroke, got home about 3am. We were both 20.
    Was it worth it? Every minute! A day I’ll never forget. One regret – that a dodgy recording of the concert I bought on cassette tape is no longer in my possession.


    • Posted by Andrew on January 11, 2016 at 6:57 pm

      Just found my Milton Keynes ticket, think we did the Sunday, 16 years old. Can’t remember anything about the day. Liked his music ever since, only took a Bowie cd out the card a couple of weeks ago. Big loss.


  11. Posted by Alistair on January 11, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    IWas at this concert working for marlboro met david he gave me a tour jacket went on to do the two scottish events brilliant what a memory i have. love and respect to his family


  12. Posted by Steve Evans on January 11, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    I remember this concert well………….I got scorched by the sun and returned home a Lobster,covered in calomine lotion for the next week.I was there on the saturday.and must say I enjoyed the experience….RIP David


  13. Posted by Diane on January 13, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Was introduced to Bowie’s music genius in the 70’s by my first ‘boyfriend’ who was a huge fan. I never looked back. True legend. Saw him at the MK bowl in 83. Huge loss. RIP David and thanks for the memories…..xxx


  14. Remember my boyfriend giving me a Paperback – cant remember the Title – and me thinking – why would I want to read this ? . but when I later opened the book, inside a page were 2 tickets for the gig – WOW ! Had the best day ..remember the lads wearing white shirts and Levis and all us fans excited and buzzing as David sang . RIP .. My HERO and Love and Peace to all other fans . Kate xx


  15. Posted by BTJ on August 3, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    My mates had just got two brand new 2.8 injection Ford Capri’s & we took these to the gig on Saturday. After getting parked we joined the long queues in the brilliant sunshine. The security guys wouldn’t allow any drinks into the venue & were joyously emptying bottles & cans outside. Needless to say this didn’t go down well with fans who had queued for over an hour in the sun! My mate had his bottle of ‘water’ (vodka & tonic in an Evian bottle) poured away & created such a fuss that I was able to get a large cool box in by pushing it along the ground with my feet. Once settled on the bank we sat & enjoyed a great day of sun, music & beer! Thanks for all the great memories Max & Larry….no longer with us RIP…David too…came back to see him at the Bowl in 1990.


  16. Posted by Hazel swain on July 11, 2020 at 10:11 am

    took my younger brother to his first live gig on the saturday….. been obsessed ever since.. went home by train and remember shoving him in the luggage rack to be safe … and the god awful bing bongs at Milton keynes station….. remember every minute of the gig…. ….


  17. Posted by David Bennett on March 20, 2021 at 3:59 am

    The best concert I have ever seen !!!


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