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"Swishing Through "Gay Rock": That's Unusual Attire Not All"

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James Roos - Miami Herald (18 November 1972)

Review of Pirates World, Dania Concert - 17 November 1972

The first thing you notice about David Bowie is his, er unusual attire. When he stepped onto the stage at Pirates World Friday Night, lights flashed, Beethoven blared a la "Clockwork Orange" and there he stood - the incarnation of "gay rock".

Yes, this is the latest fad in rock's theatrical bag of weird tricks, blatantly homosexual mannerism, with costumes to match.  So David Bowie wears his hair frizzed red, his face blanched white like a harlequin, his slender frame zipped into a red pantsuit.  What a sight.

What a voice.  For whatever his attempt at theatrics, David Bowie's music is better than his show.  At least, this time it was.  All the effeminate gestures and swivelling of hips were just so much affection added to basically good musical talent.

That voice is a hard one to pin down in words, so conclusive is its quality.  It is not quite sultry, yet sensuous. It is tinged with cabaret style, the smoothness of the balladeer. It can turn raunchy when the music so demands. Most of the time it has an original timbre, so far as rock is concerned, though it derives from the Beatles and possibly Johnny Mathis.

Regardless, Bowie's songs are enjoyable, his band rarely too loud.  He can give you "Space Oddity" the song that put him into rock star orbit, with chordal electric guitar textures that beautifully set off his voice.

He knows how to use the guitar's resources, to detune it for effects.  He can blend with his partner in mellifluous duet, adding the Elvis Presley "Come on, come on" with compelling intent.

There was a new song, something about "Put you arms around my head and lets go to bed" which meandered without shape to guide it.   And there were his standards, like "Changes" and "Five Years" which the small Pirates World audience soaked up with delight.

Ginger (Nitzfinger), the epitome of the loud, unimaginative hard rock band, was endured as prelude to Bowie's appearance.  This group seems to think overloaded bass guitar and a few screams are all there is to rock music. Two minutes of them would have been the same as 20; 45 minutes were absurd.

As a step in the right rock direction, the promoters searched all ticket holders for drugs at the gates, which held up the evening's music, but may be a way of beginning to clean up the dope and drugs which taint the reputation of rock concerts.  For a while I thought this was an altruistic step on the part of rock promoter Leas Campbell, especially when Capt.  James Cooper of the Broward County sheriff's office told me that the police were just on hand to make arrests, and that the promoters were doing the searching.

However, Campbell walked on stage to clear up any misconceptions about his motives.  No he didn't like this search any more than the audience.  It was supposed to have been for bottles, which have been thrown on stage in the past.

Perhaps.  But Campbell is a clever man.  He wouldn't want to alienate his audience.  And after all, this was his first concert at Pirates World, which is but little changed despite much ballyhoo about improving the facility.

Postscript from a reader: 

"With regards to the David Bowie At Pirates World, Dania....I was working sound for the opening band, Ginger, who replaced Nitzfinger due to scheduling conflict.  The [negative] review of Ginger portion of the show review is accurate with regards to the bass sound.  We were using Clair Brothers Audio and the bass was way too loud and they would not turn it down due to Bowie's sound check establishing the initial mix.....the tribulations of the opening act !!  An interesting aside is the drummer for Ginger was Frankie Banali......later of Quiet Riot."

---This page last modified: 12 Dec 2018---

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