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Rock On, Ziggy

by Steve Peacock - (June 1972)

I'm not quite sure why, but I was prepared for something a little more camp and glamorous from David Bowie's concert at Sheffield last week - so either I'm getting very blase or his publicity lays it on a bit thick.

Mind you, I was far from disappointed: there are two ways to make a gig work - you either have such strong material that you could sit behind a screen and people would get off, or you put on a show that compensates for any weaknesses in the music.  David Bowie's strength is that he can do both.

The Bowie gig I've enjoyed most was the one with just him and Mick Ronson at the country club a few months ago - it was small, friendly and very relaxed, and they performed songs from "Hunky Dory" with a great deal of easy charm.  Sheffield as in direct contrast - big hall, bold stage lighting, and much frantic rock and rolling.  But the songs were still there, and however much you get off on the flash and the glitter, its the songs that make a Bowie set special.

They came out on stage to Beethoven out of Clockwork Orange, and Bowie did his Detroit-type introduction - "Hello Sheffield, I'm David Bowie, these are the Spiders From Mars, and this is our music" - and the band launched into a string of numbers, mostly played very fast and very hard.  The balance wasn't too good, and you couldn't hear vocals or piano too clearly.

Ok, but not great, though the live situation certainly brings the strength of the "Ziggy Stardust" numbers out better than on the album.  After a while, Mick Woodmansey and Trevor Bolder left the stage while Bowie and Ronson did a set that included "Space Oddity", and ended up with the emotional high point of the evening, Bowie alone singing Brel's "Port of Amsterdam."

The band's "I Feel Free" gave Mick Ronson the chance for his guitar superhero spot and as Bowie came back to finish the night with some more rocking out - it was all much tighter, clearer and more exhilarating than the first thrash.  Something wasn't quite right about the gig, maybe that show needs to be packed with sweating teenagers to get it right off, but I certainly enjoyed it.  Rock on, Ziggy Stardust.

STEVE PEACOCK's recent personal opinion article on David Bowie really hit the nail on the head and displayed the kind of integrity that journalists on other papers lack.   Bowie's transformation from friend to superstar was seen only too clearly in his two visits to Aylesbury Friars Club: the first time he appeared there (months before the pandemonium started) he was seated on the edge of the stage, accompanied by his guitarist and bassist (also seated), and he treated the audience as friends to share the evening with.  When he returned, as the chart-topping, press-built superstar, it seemed to me that this sincerity, warmth and humanity had been replaced by a flashy, egocentric, loveless show of breast beating showbiz conceit.  It was a kick in the face of his old friends. - PETRA FARMER, WENDOVER ROAD, AYLESBURY, BUCKS.
Fan Letter (1972)

I FOUND Steve Peacock's comments on David Bowie pretentious, bumptious, and repulsive: to my soul, they sickened me.  David's supreme originality and magnificence seem far beyond Peacock's intelligence and adaptability.  So Mr. Peacock, you'd better hang onto yourself before I slice you till you're running red - BARBARA TAYLOR, SWANLEY, KENT.
Fan Letter (1972)

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

Ziggy Stardust Scarf (1973)