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10 June 1973
by Stephen Latham
Fan Story Index
See also: Liverpool Empire Theatre - 10 June 1973 by Roy White
I was only a youngster when I first became aware of David Bowie through the infamous Melody Maker "I'm bi-sexual" article. Also, when playing football in the park with my mates, everyone was amazed when somebody told us about this strange pop star they had just seen on Top of The Pops. He told us that he had put his arm around his guitarist and kissed him (you know the way stories become exaggerated)- this was David's performance of Starman.
Ziggy Stardust was a groundbreaking album and many critics regarded it as a musical milestone of the 1970s. It regularly features in lists of 100 top albums of all time. I actually won the album in a competition organised by a daily newspaper. You had to write, within a set number of words, why Bowie and his music appealed to you. I was amazed when I won and when it came the album was never off my turntable.
It was tough being a Bowie fan at that time and, because of his image, my friends thought I was strange for liking him. My friends liked a cross-section of music, from Elton John, T-Rex and at the other end of the musical spectrum - Led Zeppelin. However, as any Bowie fans will testify, once you became a fan you were hooked.
I had seen posters for the Ziggy Stardust concert in Liverpool, at the Top Rank, in September 1972 but I couldnąt make it to this show - much to my extreme regret over these years. A further annoying point was that this venue was rather small and I imagine the atmosphere would've been very informal, as opposed to the bigger venues. However, I wasnąt going to make that mistake again, so when the 1973 tour was announced, I noted there was to be a concert at the Liverpool Empire, on the 10th June. There was no hesitation and I telephoned the venue to ask when the tickets were to go on sale. By now though Bowie was a major star, through his tours, albums, and the consequent media interest. Because of the interest in him at this stage, I thought that there would be a big queue for tickets so decided to go early to the venue to queue. As I was too young to drive, I had to catch a bus into Liverpool when I went along in the early morning to queue (typical Brits, we love to queue). Fortunately the queue wasn't too big and after waiting over two hours I was able to get a ticket. As mentioned, none of my friends were into Bowie (some people have no taste) so I only needed one ticket. Once obtained I then had to patiently wait for the big date to arrive and then experience Bowie live.
He performed two concerts on the same day at the Empire but I had chosen the later concert, thinking he would be limited by time in the first concert if he wanted to do encores. While waiting in the queue, a friend came past who had just been into the earlier concert. She said that Bowie had walked off stage as there had been some problems. I think a piano had collapsed but whatever, he hadn't been very happy. But I didnąt mind if he was happy or grumpy (no, not the Seven Dwarfs), as long as I saw Bowie - that was all that mattered.
Despite being a big fan I didnąt dress like Bowie. I was on my own and to be honest wasn't brave enough to endure the taunts, and stares, especially as I was travelling by bus.
There were programmes on sale outside the venue but I decided to wait until I was inside and then buy an official programme. Much to my shame, I gave this programme away some years later. However, I learnt my lesson from this and have kept all the programmes from any later shows I attended.
I then went to my seat, upstairs in the front row in the circle and as there was an hour to go I sat back, waiting for "The MainMan" to appear. Eventually the lights dimmed, big cheer, and the music from Clockwork Orange played over the PA. The curtains drew back and, as it was still dark, I could make out some figures on the stage. Then lights flashing, they launched into a rocking version of "Hang onto Yourself".
All I could think of was "Wow, Iąm really here and that really is David Bowie".
The one thing that struck you was his hair; the orange spikey style. But the whole package, hair, clothes, make-up and songs screamed out at you - I'm the man - I am glam rock.
I remember there were numerous costume changes but one that sticks in my mind was the one worn at the start of the show. This was the white cape which he wore during Hang onto Yourself. At the end of the number Bowie held his arms out to the side and two aides ran on from either side of the stage. They pulled at the cape and it came away to reveal a white dress with white boots. A later change saw the "famous" red woodland creature leotard. I canąt remember the songs although I donąt think the show deviated from the set of songs that he had been singing through the tour. The sound quality was good, helped by the fact that it was a small venue.
I can't remember the songs because it was all a blur to be honest - this was the first concert I had ever been to and all I could think was "I'm watching David Bowie!" One point I vividly remember was when a silver "glitterball" came down from the ceiling, with the reflected lights bouncing off it at all angles, prompting the audience to gasp. This was the prelude to "Space Oddity". If I'm wrong about this part of the concert I apologise but it was a long time ago.
Eventually, all good things come to an end and before we knew it the show had finished and the theatre lights came up.
After the concert it was then a mad dash to catch the last bus home. There were several other fans on the bus and they were all discussing the concert all the way home. A brilliant night and, now, looking back, surely the tour was a part of rock history. I know we fans are biased but these tours were an integral part of the 1970s cultural scene.
Much to my regret I could only attend the one concert but have remedied that by attending many of Davidąs concerts since that time.
---This page last modified: 12 Dec 2018---