Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ziggy - 40 years on

The current publicity celebrating the 40th aniversary of the 'birth ' of Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, and the placing of a plaque at London birth site, brings back a few memories.

I saw 'Ziggy' on tour; July 01st 1972 at Western Super Mare's Winter Gardens. The show confirmed my already very positive opinion of Bowie musically, having discovered there was more to him than 'Space Oddity' through the wonderful 'Hunk Dory' album.

Those of a vintage to remember concert going in the those early 70s will also remember it being a time of IRA activity, and 'bomb scares' plaguing venues and events. A malicious, or more likely drunken, phone call would be the cue for lights up and an instruction to 'clear the building quickly, please'. Our VIP visitors from Mars were not to be spared this worldly experience on that July night. Someway through the set, I can't remember at which exact point, the lights went up and the Winter Garden was cleared; concert goers quickly finding themselves standing outside in the warm night air while the building was searched for suspicious packages. And not only concert goers; the Spiders were also turfed out onto to pavement and my pal and I found ourselves standing right next to the bizarrely clad band.

Now I have to say that while the costumes under a 'beer light' added to the stage spectacle, they looked pretty bloody ridiculous outside under the cold light of a Weston street lamp. In fact, Bowie and fellow Spiders came in for a bit of good-humoured banter and abuse from certain sections of the beer-fueled, denim wearing crowd. Me included.

Inevitably, no bombs were found and the concert restarted. Alas, the magic that might have been was lost. Although the band recovered their poise and played on, it was hard to take the Ziggy persona too seriously (if we ever were supposed to). He had taken it all too far, but boy could he play guitar.

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