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Bowie on The Road

by Richard Green - Music Scene  (July 1973)
Pictures: Mick Rock

Ludwig Van Beethoven's "Ode To Joy" from his 9th Symphony introduces David Bowie's major British Tour and it can be said at once that the whole essence of Ziggy's act would not be out of place in the year of the Clockwork Orange. While in Japan Bowie met costume designer Kansai who got to work producing a whole new wardrobe of stage clothes for the tour.

Another Nipponese connection with the concerts is Bowie's interpretation of the various influences made upon him by the Japanese Noh Dramas.  While moving on stage with a minimum of effort, Bowie's every gesture has a significance in relation to the music.  He uses his hands especially well to emphasize a point. His clothes are particularly dramatic and include one outfit consisting of a knee-high boots, a shortie kimono and fish-belly white tights!  He also appears, swathed in a beautiful multi-coloured cloak. While the first night at the massive Earls Court Arena was a shamble, with one's view of the stage blocked by over-enthusiastic devotees and the sound being lost in the cavernous venue, it was still Ziggy's night and any faults that were spotted by the organisers were swiftly ironed out for the remainder of the dates.

These pictures taken at Earl's Court during the opening gig of Bowie's mammoth tour shows his continued mastery of the flamboyant, both in dress and (below) behaviour.

The super showman can still appear vulnerable, though it was the audience rather than the star who suffered at the Earl's Court concert, bedeviled as it was by poor acoustics, rip-off programmes and bad visibility.

Bowie hairstyles and colourings were much in evidence on both males and females who no doubt wished it could have been them up there performing "Ziggy Stardust", "Oh You Pretty Things", "Prettiest Star", Jean Genie", "Changes" and "Space Oddity" and soaking up the adoration.

His voice strong and sympathetic, Bowie plays guitar, harmonica, mini moog and percussion.  He is backed by good, hard driving rock produced by Mick Ronson (lead guitar, vocals), Trevor Bolder (bass guitar, vocals), Woody Woodmansey (drums), Mike Garson (piano, mellotron), Brian Wishaw (tenor sax, flute), Ken Fordham (tenor, baritone, alto sax), John Hutchinson (rhythm guitar, vocals) and Geoffrey MacCormick (percussion, vocals).

While the musicians, lighting and sound crews travel in a luxury bus that contains, among other things, a bar and tape deck, Bowie is shunted to and fro gig to gig in a Iimo.  Two lorries are needed to transport the sound equipment and the lighting which David used on his recent American Tour and has imported for this series of dates. Not until the tour is over will anyone know just how much it will all have cost, but a spokesperson said it will be "an enormous amount of money".

Accompanying Bowie is his personal wardrobe mistress and hairstylist and a personal security man.  Then there are two equipment managers, a stage manager, sound engineer, lighting director, two lighting operators, a road manager, tour co-ordinator, tour manager and assistant tour manager.  Quite a sizable party.   Apart from the behaviour of the first night audience which could be put down to bad manners, the tour has been, and still is, a total success marred only by one piece of conning - a four-page programme costs 30p.

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

Ziggy Stardust Scarf (1973)