Bowie, David - Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars ? 30th Anniversary Edition

Year of Release: 2003
Label: EMI
Catalog Number: 7243 4 92987 98
Format: DVD
Total Time: 60:25:00

On July 3rd, 1973 people had paid two pounds a ticket to get into the Hammersmith Odeon in London to watch a unique show. Thirty years on and you're about to see what only 3000 people saw that evening. Before the concert started David Bowie already knew this would be the very final gig for The Spiders From Mars. He was the only one who knew. In fact, he would decide to quit performing altogether whether with or without a band. So imagine what a strange experience it must have been for him to not only have this going through his mind but also being filmed at the same time. It was RCA who had commissioned D. A. Pennebaker to film the event. They needed half an hour's worth of footage to be used as a sample for a new technology they had invented called Select-A-Vision. On July 2nd, Pennebaker recorded half an hour of both the concert itself as well as everything going on in and around the now defunct Hammersmith Odeon [It's now the Carling Apollo ? ed.]. The next day he processed the film to see whether at all the lights were good enough. Because the audience looked rather dark he put up a sign asking fans to bring as many cameras with flashes as they could on July 3rd so he could have more light during filming. Talking about a professional attitude!

The film begins backstage when Bowie is being helped with putting his make-up on and then switches to the front of the Hammersmith Odeon where dozens of Bowie lookalikes are waiting in the sun for the doors to open. Suddenly Angie Bowie appears, handing out autographs and looking ever so pleased with herself. Quality-wise many of you have better personal cameras now than the Pennebaker crew had in those days so don't expect too much from a photographic point of view. Especially, the concert shots are rather dark, but then again it's about a show that took place thirty years ago and at 8 PM isn't it? Bowie is still in his dressing room when Beethoven's "Ninth Symphony," as arranged by Wendy Carlos, is filling the hall. From the moment David hits the stage the atmosphere becomes boiling as he immediately kicks off with the uptempo "Hang On To Yourself." His costume is kind of torn from his body to reveal yet another stage costume before delivering "Ziggy Stardust." The band then goes on to create kind of a small medley incorporating "Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud," "All The Young Dudes" and "Oh You Pretty Things," which at the time is like a greatest hits medley resulting in a very enthousiastic crowd. During Mick Ronson's long guitar solo in "Moonage Daydream," Bowie has left the stage in order to put on another costume. What we see first is the complete song with obviously Ronson's strong output. During the applause we go towards the dressing room where we see David being helped into his new outfit whilst in the background we hear the guitar solo we've just seen in full. So two different cameras have been filming simultaneously, but instead of choosing your own camera this DVD skips from the actual song to what's happening backstage. Then we follow David from the dressing room back to the stage and due to the fabulous 5.1 surround sound it's as if you're walking next to David, the sound swelling as you get back on stage. A great experience!

Whilst most of the tracks performed that memorable night in '73 are Bowie originals, David included some covers as well. There's the Jagger/Richards' penned "Let's Spend The Night Together" and "White Light/White Heat" from his buddy Lou Reed, but he also pays tribute to one of Belgium's all-time greats. "My Death" was originally written by Jacques Brel and translated by Mort Shuman and is performed here by David accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. Then it's briefly backstage again where we also see Ringo Starr. David puts on his cape on right in time for "Cracked Actor" where he also plays mouth organ. During "The Width Of A Circle" Ronson delivers a guitar solo with only one hand, resulting in a battle between himself and Trevor Bolder on bass without forgetting the powerful rhythms from Woody Woodmansey. The long instrumental section in this song has once again enabled Bowie to slip into yet another costume whilst he also does a nice piece of mime and takes the opportunity to introduce the members of the band. Jokingly he even says, "no it's not Suzi Quatro on guitar but Mick Ronson." After the Lou Reed song "White Light/White Heat," Bowie addresses the audience as follows: "of all the shows on this tour this particular show will remain with us the longest because ? not only is it the last show on the tour but ? it's the last show we'll ever do." Whilst the public is still puzzled at whether what they've heard is right, the band delivers its final song "Rock 'N Roll Suicide" before they leave the stage for the very last time as Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars.

All in all this is a real document of that show, with a sound quality such that you feel as if you were in that audience. Not state-of-the-art mind you, but good enough to capture the atmosphere of what went on that particular 3rd July, 1973. I think it's a pity that there's no footage of what happened in the dressing room after the band left the stage for the very last time. Maybe immediately after they left the building? Surely something rather special must have been happened unless of course Pennebaker wanted this part of the evening to be left as private as can be. Whilst the main menu contains options to adjust the sound from PCM stereo to 5.1 surround, switch off or on the commentary by Pennebaker and Tony Visconti, or go to the songs directly, I find it a missed opportunity to not contain an extra link to the extras section in the same menu. Instead you have to go to the various folders and files on the DVD-ROM itself, click on the DVSPLASH.EXE icon and then download whatever you fancy. Whether it's icons, wallpapers, a screensaver or a Ziggy calendar, each time you have to download it, creating a Z_themes folder on your desktop from where you can reach these extras. In the end however it's great to be able to witness a Ziggy concert from the front row, warts'n all!

Opening Credits / Intro (1:05) / Hang On To Yourself (2:55) / Ziggy Stardust (3:19) / Watch That Man (4:14) / Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud (3:15) / All The Young Dudes (1:38) / Oh You Pretty Things (1:46) / Moonage Daydream (6:25) / Changes (3:36) / Space Oddity (5:05) / My Death (7:20) / Cracked Actor (3:03) / Time (5:31) / The Width Of A Circle (15:45) / Let:s Spend The Night Together (3:02) / Suffragette City (4:32) / White Light ? White Heat (4:01) / Farwell Speech (0:39) / Rock:n Roll Suicide (5:17) / End Credits

David Bowie ? vocals
Mick Ronson - guitar, vocals
Trevor Bolder - bass
Woody Woodmansey - drums
Ken Fordham - sax, flute
Brian Wilshaw - sax, flute
Geoffrey MacCormack - percussion, backing vocals
John Hutchinson - guitar
Mike Garson - piano, mellotron, organ

Space Oddity (1969)
The Man Who Sold The World (1970)
Honky Dory (1972)
The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust (1972/2002)
Aladdin Sane (1973)
Pin-Ups (1973)
Images 1966-1967 (1973)
Diamond Dogs (1974/2004*)
David Live (1974)
Young Americans (1975)
Station To Station (1976)
Low (1977)
Heroes (1977)
Stage (1978)
Lodger (1979)
Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) (1980)
Let's Dance (1983)
Love You 'Til Tuesday (1984)
Tonight (1984)
Never Let Me Down (1987)
Sound + Vision (1989)
Changesbowie (1990)
Early On (1964-1966) (1991)
Black Tie White Noise (1993)
Singles 1969 - 1993 (1993)
Rarest One Bowie (1995)
Santa Monica '72 (1995)
Outside (1995)
Buddha Of Suburbia (1995)
Earthling (1997)
All Saints - Collected Instrumentals 1977-1999 (2001)
Heathen (2002)
Best Of Bowie (2002)
Club Bowie (2003)
Reality (2003)
Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (DVD) (2003)
Inside Bowie And The Spiders (1969-1974)-An Independent Critical Review (DVD) (2004)

* expanded or special edition

Genre: Rock

Origin UK

Added: May 4th 2003
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 696
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]