Tin Machine

Tin Machine

It happened Dec. 9, 1991. Were you there? Don’t lie.

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Maybe 1,000 people attended Tin Machine’s stop at the 3,500-seat Bronco Bowl on the band’s “It’s My Life” tour of Europe and the United States.

Even though Bowie was world famous when Tin Machine formed in 1988, he insisted he was just another member of the band.

Bowie, who died this past Sunday at age 69, helped launch the career of Oak Cliff’s Stevie Ray Vaughan, who recorded with Bowie on the “Let’s Dance” album in 1983.

In 1991, Bowie had become engaged to Iman. He’d taken a break from putting on elaborate stage shows, and he frequently told interviewers he was “deliriously happy” to be settling down. It’s hard to imagine this rock-n-roll saint receiving lackluster press, but Bowie’s 1987 album “Never Let Me Down” received mixed reviews. And the “Glass Spider Tour,” which followed, was the most elaborate, over-the-top show Bowie had produced yet.

The stripped-down hard-rock of Tin Machine was like a palate cleanser.

A writer from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dave Ferman, reviewed Tin Machine at the Bronco Bowl. (Incidentally, the concert happened on the same day that the Dallas Times Herald went out of business.)

Ferman summed up Tin Machine as “a quickly tiresome rich man’s plaything.”

…while his Monday night show in a half-full Bronco Bowl was fun for the sheer thrill of seeing Bowie so close and the visceral whomp of this music he now calls his own, David Bowie in 1991 leaves me cold.

Tin Machine received many similar reviews. It became known as a “failed” project. But more recently, critics have argued that Tin Machine was underrated. The band’s back-to-basics sound was too rough and angular for mainstream tastes in the early ’90s, they say. With Tin Machine, Bowie was at the forefront of the grunge sound, they say.

Ahead of his time, as usual.

Here is a live recording of Tin Machine performing “Debaser” by Bowie’s favorite band in 1991, The Pixies.