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10 June 1973
by Roy White
Fan Story Index
See also: Liverpool Empire Theatre - 10 June 1973 by Stephen Latham
I was 14 and was already walking the streets of Liverpool dressed as Ziggy. Fears of being beaten up by skinheads for dressing this way meant nothing. I'd found my niche. My father despaired but I was Ziggy Stardust and I was on my way to see myself play at the Liverpool Empire. It was a warm June evening and once at the Theatre I was a little disturbed to find that I'd already played a matinee show. After half an hour of queuing, the flood gates open and out pour the audience from the first show.
It was the second time I'd been to this theatre. The first was to see Norman Wisdom at the tender age of seven. This was for real though. I go and buy my show programme, which is a glossy mag with some cool photo's and little else really. Didn't matter. I think it cost £2. Still got it somewhere. Anyway, after what seems like an eternity, the house lights eventually come down and a Butlins Redcoat is on the stage announcing the evenings entertainment. "DAVID BOWIE". Then there's some strange classical music being piped through the PA. I now know this to be Beethoven but to a 14 year old it was something you'd hear your dad playing.
People in the audience are getting restless and I can see the ones down at the front getting crushed even before 'I'm' on the stage. Strobe lights, colour, noise. A mass of hysteria hits the stage. Blam, the opening chords of "Hang On To Yourself" rip out of the PA.
Ziggy floats across the stage in the glare of strobe and is positioned, not at the centre mike, Ronno is there. Ziggy is on Ronno's mike and is midway through the song before my eyes can believe what they're seeing. The outfit would appear to be a multi coloured suit that flares from the chest down. The hair is more red than I've ever seen on photo's. The voice doesn't sound as slick as the record. In fact, it sounds hoarse. Ziggy's not reaching the high notes but who cares.
Next up is "Ziggy Stardust" and the suit is ripped off to reveal some white Japanese looking outfit. I still haven't got Aladdin Sane, can't afford it so there's a couple of songs I don't know. I'm rewarded soon enough with my favourite from Ziggy - "Moonage Daydream". The guitar solo is absolutely stunning from Ronno. "Space Oddity" and some others I don't know and they're off the stage for the interval.
Second-half sees more costumes and more songs I don't know but the event is overwhelming. Eventually Ziggy is wearing what I could only describe as a red swimsuit with little animals printed all over it. "Width of a Circle" - mid way through the song Ziggy comes running from the back of the stage and slams into an invisible wall. He tries again, fails, so unzips the wall and climbs through, then turns into a bird. Wow! I was not aware of Ziggy's mime show back then. Mind-blowing to 14 year old.
At certain points during the show the only stage lighting is a single spotlight on Ziggy's face. Again, mind-blowing. A duel between Ronno and Trevor Bolder. Woody collapsing from his drumstool while a green spotlight picks out the fake demise of the drummer. I don't know the next song but Ziggy tells us it was written by Lou Reed. Isn't he the bloke who did "Walk on the Wild Side?" I'm thinking. There were so many things I didn't know back then. Ziggy was new.
Ronno seems to be doing more of the lead vocals on "Lets Spend the Night Together", which I already know as a Rolling Stones song. Maybe Ziggy's voice is spent from touring. Ziggy introduces the band and is being heckled from someone down at the front of the crowd. I can remember Ziggy's retort verbatim."When you are playing the Liverpool Empire I'll come and see you. Until then, SHUT UP!"
"Suffragette City", Thank you good night. That's it.
The show seems so choreographed that there seems little room for something so spontaneous as an encore so I start milling through the crowd towards the door. I'm almost out when I hear a huge roar and to my surprise, Ziggy and the Spiders are back. Ziggy's hair is now tucked behind the ears and I can see an earring sparkling. The costume is now black and skin tight. "Round and Round" is next up. I know this from being the B side to "Drive in Saturday", which is not played tonight. Something else I don't know but I think it's another Lou Reed song, can't be sure. The sound is incredibly loud now and everyone wants more. But that's it. It's over.
House lights come up and I see the stage for what it really is. I don't want to see roadies and stage crew dismantling the vision I'd just witnessed so I make for the street instead of chanting for more with the rest of the crowd and am just in time to catch a glimpse of a black limo pulling out. I can see a hand waving through the window and a blare of red makeup and hair.
Ziggy waves bye bye and I go and catch the next bus back to Bootle.
I went out with a girl in 1976 who attended the earlier matinee show and recorded the whole show onto cassette. The sound was awful but I did get to hear the incident when a piano was broken in the orchestra pit. The band left the stage for about 5 minutes and Bowie eventually returned to speak to the audience. He seemed to be more concerned about some of the kids who had been hurt and was asking everyone to calm down. I wonder if she still has that cassette? Her name was Karen Bone. [Ed: Are you out there Karen? - do you still have the tape?]
---This page last modified: 17 Dec 2018---