On April 28, 1978, David Bowie performed the first date of a two-night stand at The Spectrum in Philadelphia, a performance which - along with the next night as well as dates in Providence and Boston the following month - would be utilized to create his second live album.
Co-produced by Bowie with longtime collaborator Tony Visconti, Stage consisted predominantly of material from his three most recent albums - Station to Station (1976) Low (1977), and "Heroes" (also 1977, because Bowie was nothing if not prolific) - along with five tracks from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars (1972).
Unsurprisingly for someone with his kind of street cred, Bowie put together a tremendous band for the performances, including his usual trio of Carlos Alomar, Dennis Davis, and George Murray, but also guitarist Adrian Belew, electric violinist Simon House from Hawkwind, pianist Sean Mayes, and Utopia keyboardist Roger Powell. The group got along together so well on the road that they all ended up playing on Bowie’s subsequent studio album, Lodger, released the following year.
At the time of its initial release, Stage was praised by critics for coming across as more relaxed than Bowie’s previous live album, yet it was also criticized for featuring live versions that sounded more or less the same as they did on the album. Plus, there were those who wanted to complain about how there wasn’t enough crowd sound, because… Well, you know, some people just need to complain about everything.
Of course, Stage was a huge hit in Bowie’s homeland anyway, where it climbed to No. 5 on the U.K. Albums chart, but it also did relatively well in the U.S., at least for a double live album, hitting No. 44 on the Billboard 200.