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David Bowie

by Chris Welch - Melody Maker (26 August 1972)

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One of the key early writers on the emerging British pop scene of the ’60s, Welch interviewed just about every major band for MELODY MAKER. He is also the author of numerous rock books, including a new study of Cream.

Music from a Clockwork Orange heralded the spectacular performance staged by David Bowie at London's Rainbow Theatre on Sunday night. "At least it makes a change from "2001" was one ruffianly comment noted as the stardust began to fall. There was an intensity and well rehearsed devotion to detail evident in the theatrics to come that reminded one of the Talk of the Town. In truth it was often tremendously effective, Mr Bowie's grand entrance, clad in a suit of silver with matching boots, he strode out with perfect timing to ankle deep jets of smoke. A yelp and a scream came from the expectant audience. Great cheers greeted the familiar opening chords to songs, and of course the whole evening could be judged a wondrous success. But eventually the faint suspicion grew that certain sections of the audience were slightly stunned and bemused by the jive David was laying on us.

After the final moments of wild balletic freak-out with the star arching his limbs in best Nureyev fashion, there was a stunned silence. Then one lone voice bawled out "More!" and taking their cue the audience gave the required ovation. It seemed like an extravagantly long show, and David and his management too a lot of risks in unleashing such a novel mixing of media's. In the old days they would have called it: Professional suicide." But these days chaps - well anything goes. In his rock-theatre venture the Big D was joined by a team of of inventive dancers whose doll like movements recalled some of the Arthur Brown's early experiments with neck bending....The Spiders from Mars played a brilliant backing role, a perfect balance wrought trist David's acoustic guitar, and the electric violence of the band, and between all three energy sources - group, singer, and dancers - there was created a dramatic, absorbing play upon the emotions.

One of the most memorable moments, one that shall ever live on in my consciousness came when David appeared in natty red underwear on the highest platform, there to strike unnatural poses, while bathed in soft lighting. The silver suit discarded, there were some moments of uncertainty. Was it he? But yes of course, as the microphone was raised, so that familiar voice boomed overhead, and a cold tingle of recognition tingled the kneecaps. As "Starman" rocked on a glittering mirrored globe began to revolve in the best patois fashion and the Star Man represented by a geezer in wings, lit up a fag and joined some brisk mixed dancing. David joined them on the ground floor, his legs freed from the encumbrance of trousers in order that he might participate in the final, exultant dance of lunacy.

It would be hard to imagine audiences as long as three weeks ago, accepting such a spectacle without recourse to raspberries and maybe even yells of "get on with it." But times change rapidly in the rock business, God knows what will be happening next week. ...the triumph was David Bowie's and he has obviously come a long way since whatever he was doing last year.

Whether all this fol de rol can survive the summer remains to be seen, but by God it has brought a little glamour into all our lives, and Amen to that.

---This page last modified: 28 Jun 2002---

Ziggy Stardust Scarf (1973)