A Reality Tour

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This article is about the David Bowie concert tour. For the concert tour by Jessica Simpson, see Reality Tour (Jessica Simpson concert tour).
A Reality Tour
Tour by David Bowie
Associated album Reality
Start date 7 October 2003
End date 25 June 2004
Legs 5
No. of shows 70 in Europe
28 in North America
1 in the Atlantic
8 in Oceania
5 in Asia
112 in Total
David Bowie concert chronology

A Reality Tour was a worldwide concert tour by David Bowie in support of the Reality album.[1] The tour commenced on 7 October 2003 at the Forum Copenhagen, Denmark, continuing through Europe, North America, Asia, including a return to New Zealand and Australia for the first time since the 1987 Glass Spider Tour. This also proved to be his final tour before his death on January 10, 2016.

The tour grossed US $46 million, making it the ninth-highest grossing tour of 2004.[2]


Bowie announced the tour in June 2003, intending to play to over a million people across 17 countries, and was billed as his first major tour since the Outside Tour of 1995.[3] Bowie promoted this tour with appearances on primetime television shows such as The Tonight Show and on AOL Sessions.[4] At over 110 shows, the tour was the longest tour of Bowie's career.[5]


Bowie sought to perform in the format of a stadium concert with less focus on elaborate staging and more focus on the musicians in his band. The stage featured a number of platforms, some extending into the audience, as well as multiple video-screens projecting artistic images and live footage of the concert along with many colored lights for effects. The stage was typically placed at one end of the stadium or arena with seating in the stands or on the field itself with a back-stage area on the far side of the stage.[6]

The musicians were dressed in casual but colorful outfits; each musician had a set of outfits in different colors, such as Bowie's cut-off shirt and neckerchief or Gail Ann Dorsey's dress. Musicians were free to move about the stage as their instruments permitted with wireless amplification, though Bowie and Dorsey interacted most often as part of the acts.

Each concert began with an introduction on the main video-screen, during which the band would enter the stage and prepare the opening number. After the opener, Bowie would greet the audience with the flexible line, "Hello, [city name], you crazy bunch motherfuckers" as a sign of welcoming. The performances, between the somewhat staged pieces, were informal often with a dialog between Bowie and his audience, jokes, band introductions, and the occasional "Happy Birthday To You".


The set list included tracks spanning Bowie's 30 plus years in the music business, from The Man Who Sold the World (1970) all the way to Reality (2003), along with collaborations such as "Sister Midnight" (originally from The Idiot (1977) by Iggy Pop) and "Under Pressure" (released as a single (1981) by Bowie and Queen later found on Hot Space released the following year), and snippets and teasers of Bowie classics such as "Space Oddity" and "Golden Years". There is a bit more focus, however, on tracks from the albums released since the Earthling World Tour in 1997: Heathen (2002), and Reality. The only exception from his latest albums is Hours (1999); no tracks from this album were included, possibly due to poor reception of the album. Other albums with no appearance included David Bowie (1969), the cover album Pin Ups (1973), the ill-received release Never Let Me Down (1987), the albums produced with the band Tin Machine (Tin Machine (1989) and Tin Machine II (1991)) and Black Tie White Noise (1993).

A notable inclusion on the tour were the tracks from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972), usually performed as the final encores. "Ziggy Stardust" was nearly always the finale of each concert.

The inclusion of tracks from Let's Dance (1983) and Tonight (1984) was also notable, considering a fan tendency to reject the albums as "too commercial", seeing the return of the singles "Modern Love", "Blue Jean", "Let's Dance", "China Girl" (originally from The Idiot (1977) by Pop), and a semi-acoustic version of "Loving the Alien".

Overall, the band had rehearsed around 60 songs for the tour.[5]

Contemporary reviews[edit]

The 24 January 2004 show in Vancouver BC was reviewed positively, with the reviewer saying that "with Bowie's near-flawless vocals, brilliant band, and smartly executed show, you wind up with one of the finest old-school rock gigs the Canucks’ home rink has ever hosted."[7] The review of the next show in Seattle on 25 January 2004 was similarly positive, saying Bowie, "still every inch a superstar ... still oozes charm and sex appeal" and called the setlist a "celebration of his whole body of work."[8]

Tour incidents[edit]

The 6 May 2004, a performance at the James L. Knight Center, Miami, Florida was cancelled after lighting technician Walter "Wally Gator" Thomas fell to his death prior to Bowie going onstage.[9]

The show in Oslo on 18 June 2004 saw Bowie being struck in the left eye with a lollipop thrown by a member of the audience.[10]

Originally scheduled to play in 24 countries over a ten-month period, the tour was curtailed after the Hurricane Festival performance in Scheeßel, Germany on 25 June 2004, as a result of Bowie being diagnosed with an acutely blocked artery that required an angioplasty procedure.[11] In 2016, bassist Gail Ann Dorsey, who was on stage with Bowie, recalled what happened at the end of the tour:

[At the second-to-last show, in Prague] I remember we were playing the song "Reality." He was supposed to be singing at the very end of the song, and he wasn't. I was kind of watching him from behind. Everyone was soaking wet because it was really hot in there, but his shirt was just drenched. He was just soaking wet and holding the microphone out with his left hand straight out. And he was just standing there, posturing, but not singing. And I was thinking, "Why is he not singing the last bit?"

Then he looked over his shoulder at me and he was just white, pale, translucent almost. His eyes were wide and he was kind of gasping for air a little bit, having trouble catching his breath. And then I remember looking down at the audience, and I could see their expressions in the front row, looking up at him, had changed. They went from joy and dancing to looking kind of concerned. At that point, his bodyguard and helper guy saw the same thing. He ran onto the stage and took him off. ... We went back on and played a few more songs. He asked for a stool and he sat down. He just hated to cancel shows. There were some nights he was so sick he had a bucket on the side of the stage where he'd go between songs to puke, but he never wanted to cancel anything. And we didn't know he was having a heart attack until four or five days later.

[At the last show, at the Hurricane Festival in Hamburg, Germany] I remember walking down the stairs behind him after we finished. When he got to the bottom, he actually collapsed. He was so tired and so sick. They rushed him to the hospital and we sat and waited in Hamburg for a few days, and that was the end. The last show.[12]

Live recordings[edit]

Main article: A Reality Tour (film)

A DVD video of the Point Theatre, Dublin performances of 2003 was released as A Reality Tour in 2004. A CD of the same performances was released as A Reality Tour in 2010.

Tour band[edit]

Tour dates[edit]

Date City Country Venue Tickets sold / available Revenue
7 October 2003 Copenhagen Denmark Forum Copenhagen
8 October 2003 Stockholm Sweden Globen Arena
10 October 2003 Helsinki Finland Hartwall Areena
12 October 2003 Oslo Norway Oslo Spektrum
15 October 2003 Rotterdam Netherlands Ahoy Rotterdam
16 October 2003 Hamburg Germany Color Line Arena
18 October 2003 Frankfurt Festhalle Frankfurt
20 October 2003 Paris France POPB
21 October 2003
23 October 2003 Milan Italy Forum di Assago
24 October 2003 Zürich Switzerland Hallenstadion
26 October 2003 Stuttgart Germany Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle
27 October 2003 Munich Olympiahalle
29 October 2003 Vienna Austria Wiener Stadthalle
31 October 2003 Cologne Germany Kölnarena
1 November 2003 Hanover Preussag Arena 10,587 / 10,587 $499,926
3 November 2003 Berlin Max-Schmeling-Halle 10,693 / 10,693 $512,787
5 November 2003 Antwerp Belgium Sportpaleis 16,113 / 16,113 $690,217
7 November 2003 Lille France Zénith de Lille 6,986 / 6,986 $349,420
8 November 2003 Amnéville Galaxie Amnéville 10,960 / 11,200 $462,161
10 November 2003 Nice Palais Nikaia 7,620 / 8,000 $426,823
14 November 2003 Marseille Le Dôme de Marseille 8,004 / 8,004 $440,087
15 November 2003 Lyon Halle Tony Garnier 17,000 / 17,000 $753,371
17 November 2003 Manchester England Manchester Arena 14,827 / 14,827 $1,094,747
19 November 2003 Birmingham NEC LG Arena 23,604 / 23,604 $1,759,705
20 November 2003
22 November 2003 Dublin Republic of Ireland Point Theatre 17,000 / 17,000 $1,142,076
23 November 2003
25 November 2003 London England Wembley Arena 23,048 / 23,048 $1,717,549
26 November 2003
28 November 2003 Glasgow Scotland Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre 10,103 / 10,103 $768,886 The Dandy Warhols
North America
13 December 2003 Montreal Canada Bell Centre 11,315 / 11,315 $613,650 Macy Gray
15 December 2003 New York City United States Madison Square Garden 13,752 / 13,752 $1,108,711
16 December 2003 Uncasville Mohegan Sun Arena 6,698 / 6,698 $313,460
20 December 2003 Nassau Bahamas The Atlantis Paradise Island Hotel
North America
7 January 2004 Cleveland United States CSU Convocation Center 7,692 / 7,938 $336,940 Macy Gray
9 January 2004 Auburn Hills The Palace of Auburn Hills 8,509 / 8,909 $427,522
11 January 2004 Minneapolis Target Center 5,492 / 7,505 $275,436
13 January 2004 Rosemont Rosemont Theatre 12,867 / 12,867 $959,883
14 January 2004
16 January 2004
19 January 2004 Denver Fillmore Auditorium 3,600 / 3,600 $237,600
21 January 2004 Calgary Canada Pengrowth Saddledome 11,474 / 11,474 $634,074
24 January 2004 Vancouver GM Place 11,617 / 11,617 $612,323
25 January 2004 Seattle United States Paramount Theatre 2,804 / 2,835 $199,722
27 January 2004 San Jose HP Pavilion 9,856 / 10,317 $578,128
30 January 2004 Las Vegas The Joint 1,522 / 1,522 $343,313
31 January 2004 Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium 12,348 / 12,348 $803,544
2 February 2004
3 February 2004 Wiltern Theatre 2,290 / 2,290 $187,174
5 February 2004 Phoenix Dodge Theater 4,873 / 4,873 $237,842
6 February 2004 Las Vegas The Joint 1,522 / 1,522 $343,313
7 February 2004 Los Angeles Wiltern Theatre 2,290 / 2,290 $187,174
14 February 2004 Wellington New Zealand Westpac Stadium
17 February 2004 Brisbane Australia Brisbane Entertainment Centre
20 February 2004 Sydney Sydney Entertainment Centre
21 February 2004
23 February 2004 Adelaide Adelaide Entertainment Centre
26 February 2004 Melbourne Rod Laver Arena
27 February 2004
1 March 2004 Perth Supreme Court Gardens
4 March 2004 Singapore Singapore Singapore Indoor Stadium
8 March 2004 Tokyo Japan Nippon Budokan
9 March 2004
11 March 2004 Osaka Osaka-jo Hall
14 March 2004 Kowloon Hong Kong Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
North America
29 March 2004 Philadelphia United States Wachovia Center 10,761 / 18,000 $645,380
30 March 2004 Boston FleetCenter
1 April 2004 Toronto Canada Air Canada Centre 13,893 / 14,114 $771,136
2 April 2004 Ottawa Corel Centre
4 April 2004 Quebec City Colisée Pepsi
7 April 2004 Winnipeg Winnipeg Arena
9 April 2004 Edmonton Rexall Place 8,507 / 9,404 $342,609
11 April 2004 Kelowna Skyreach Place
13 April 2004 Portland, Oregon United States Rose Garden Arena
14 April 2004 Seattle KeyArena 6,065 / 6,500 $316,094
16 April 2004 Berkeley Berkeley Community Theatre
17 April 2004
19 April 2004 Santa Barbara Santa Barbara Bowl 4,546 / 4,562 $314,625
22 April 2004 Los Angeles Greek Theatre 5,764 / 5,764 $360,560
23 April 2004 Anaheim Arrowhead Pond 7,015 / 7,520 $498,218
25 April 2004 Loveland Budweiser Events Center 4,177 / 5,440 $262,503
27 April 2004 Austin The Backyard Amphitheater
29 April 2004 The Woodlands Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
30 April 2004 New Orleans Saenger Theatre
5 May 2004 Tampa Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center
8 May 2004 Atlanta Chastain Park Amphitheater
10 May 2004 Kansas City Starlight Theatre
11 May 2004 St. Louis Fox Theatre
13 May 2004 Hershey Star Pavilion
14 May 2004 London Canada John Labatt Centre 8,513 / 8,513 $446,740
16 May 2004 Fairfax United States Patriot Center
17 May 2004 Pittsburgh Benedum Center
19 May 2004 Milwaukee Milwaukee Theatre
20 May 2004 Indianapolis Murat Shrine
22 May 2004 Moline The MARK of the Quad Cities
24 May 2004 Columbus Columbus Veterans Memorial Auditorium
25 May 2004 Buffalo Shea's Performing Arts Center
27 May 2004 Scranton Ford Pavilion at Montage Mountain
29 May 2004 Atlantic City Borgata Event Center
30 May 2004
1 June 2004 Manchester, New Hampshire Verizon Wireless Arena
2 June 2004 Uncasville Mohegan Sun Arena
4 June 2004 Wantagh Tommy Hilfiger at Jones Beach Theatre
5 June 2004 Holmdel PNC Bank Arts Center
11 June 2004 Amsterdam Netherlands Amsterdam Arena
13 June 2004[A] Newport England Seaclose Park
17 June 2004[B] Bergen Norway Koengen
18 June 2004[C] Oslo Frognerbadet
20 June 2004[D] Seinäjoki Finland Provinssirock
23 June 2004 Prague Czech Republic T-Mobile Arena
25 June 2004[E] Scheeßel Germany Eichenring
Total 722,158 / 737,581 $45,395,490
  • On 19 August 2003 Bowie performed a one-off show in Poughkeepsie, New York at The Chance, as a warm up show.
  • On 8 September 2003 Bowie performed a show at the Riverside Studios in London which was a 'satellite show'. This was a live performance beamed via satellite to cinemas and theatres across Europe and due to time delay the following day across Asia, Australia, North and South America.[13][14]
Festivals and other miscellaneous performances
A This concert was a part of "Isle of Wight Festival"
B This concert was a part of "Bergen Festival"
C This concert was a part of "Norwegian Wood Festival"
D This concert was a part of "Provinssirock"
E This concert was a part of "Hurricane Festival"
Cancellations and rescheduled shows
12 November 2003 Toulouse Le Zénith de Toulouse Cancelled
6 December 2003 Atlantic City The Borgata Events Center Rescheduled to 29 May 2004
7 December 2003 Fairfax Patriot Center Rescheduled to 16 May 2004
9 December 2003 Boston Fleet Center Rescheduled to 30 March 2004
10 December 2003 Philadelphia Wachovia Center Rescheduled to 29 March 2004
12 December 2003 Toronto Air Canada Centre Rescheduled to 1 April 2004
6 May 2004 Miami James L. Knight Center Cancelled
26 June 2004 Tuttlingen Southside Festival Cancelled
29 June 2004 Vienna Schloss Schönbrunn Cancelled
30 June 2004 Salzburg Residenzplatz Cancelled
2 July 2004 Roskilde Roskilde Festival Cancelled
4 July 2004 Werchter Rock Werchter Cancelled
6 July 2004 Ile De Gaou Festival de la Gaou Cancelled
7 July 2004 Carcassonne Festival de la Cite Cancelled
10 July 2004 Kinross Balado, T in the Park Cancelled
11 July 2004 County Kildare Oxegen Festival Cancelled
14 July 2004 Bilbao Bilbao Festival Cancelled
16 July 2004 Compostela Xacobeo Festival Cancelled
17 July 2004 Oporto The Dragon Festival Cancelled
20 July 2004 Nyon Paléo Festival Nyon Cancelled
21 July 2004 Monte Carlo Club du Sporting Cancelled
23 July 2004 Carhaix Vieilles Charrues Festival Cancelled



  • DVD/CD Included on A Reality Tour (film) and A Reality Tour (live album)
  • CD Included on the live album
  • iTunes Available as Digital download bonus tracks (iTunes) for the live album


  1. ^ Bowie announces world tour
  2. ^ Madonna Heads List Of Year's Top Tours, retrieved 20 September 2013 
  3. ^ "Bowie On World Tour", Sky News, 16 June 2003, retrieved 20 September 2013 
  4. ^ AOL Sessions Archived 17 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ a b Jacobson, Colin (3 November 2004), David Bowie: A Reality Tour (2003), retrieved 20 September 2013 
  6. ^ Seating Plan
  7. ^ Newton, Steve (13 January 2016). "David Bowie's final Vancouver show, 2004". The Georgia Straight. Retrieved 19 February 2016. 
  8. ^ MacDonald, Patrick (26 January 2004). "David Bowie: Supercool rock icon ever ch-ch-changing for the better". The Seattle Times. pp. E1–E3. 
  9. ^ Crew member dies at Bowie concert
  10. ^ Lollipop hits Bowie in eye at gig
  11. ^ Bowie recovers after heart surgery
  12. ^ Greene, Andy (25 January 2016). "David Bowie Bassist Gail Ann Dorsey: 'He Altered the Course of My Life'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 14 February 2016. 
  13. ^ Bowie gig beamed into cinemas
  14. ^ Bowie thrills crowd with cinema gig