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Bowie parade of the glitter freaks

by Linda Solomon (3 March 1973)

David Bowie's shining presence at Radio City Music Hall, New York, meant that even a torrential downpour didn't prevent a soldout audience of glitter freaks from turning out in all their glory to bask in the splendour of the occasion. Seen exiting from his chauffeured limo was none other than artist Salvador Dali, caped and moustached and peering nonchalantly at the rockers who glanced back some even with a look of recognition. Also among the crowd were carrot-topped Todd Rundgren, his silver-gowned wife, and Johnny Winter. We'd heard Fumble were to open the show, but there was no opening act. Just Bowie. His entrance was, as expected, on the spectacular side - he was lowered to the stage on a giant silver sphere, shimmering away in his iridescent pantaloons.

The PA system was faulty for the first few numbers, which included "Moonage Daydream", but it was soon corrected and we got a fair representation of Bowie's newly orchestrated treatment of "Space Oddity" which many here consider to be his most important hit. He performed acoustically at his recent Carnegie Hall debut, but this time was assisted by all three Spiders From Mars plus Mike Garson who hopped from piano to mellatron, and a four-piece horn section. Flashing strobes orbited while Bowie mused on cosmic isolation. Then he appeared dramatically alone, perched on a high stool, to sing Jacques Brel's depressingly poignant "Port of Amsterdam" looking and sounding like a male Judy Garland in drag. From this point on the show went downhill. There was recurrent echo from the PA, and several preview numbers from Bowie's new album ALADDIN SANE were difficult to comprehend because of this. Most interesting was "Drive in Saturday" which Bowie originally wrote as a potential follow-up to Mott the Hoople's monster single "All the Young Dudes".

Bowie's musical director and lead guitarist Mick Ronson shared the limelight with an extended solo on 'The Width of A Circle". Then back came Bowie in an 1890's-type wide-striped body suit - to romp about while singing "Lets Spend the Night Together" kicking his legs about and humping the stage. Bowie's no Jagger, and he's also a lousy harp player. He should have known better than to attempt a harmonica solo (in "The Jean Genie") in front of a blues-knowledgeable Manhattan audience. The audience were patient because almost everybody loves Bowie, but there was a few audible titters. Disappearing again for a costume change, Bowie encored (after tumultuous applause for 10 minutes) with "Rock n Roll Suicide", during which audience members crowded the stage hungry for a touch of Bowie, with the artist obligingly shaking hands and gliding frantically around the enormous stage. The song ended abruptly as Bowie keeled over face-first in what appeared to be a dramatically intended fake death - presumably to tie in with the song's subject matter. But it was a bit too realistic. Apparently the tension of the tour had got to him, and he'd fainted. A nurse was hurriedly summoned, and Bowie's blood pressure was taken. He was advised to get some rest, and reportedly slept until past noon the following day.

---This page last modified: 13 Dec 2018---

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