David Bowie: Festival Hall

by Al Kemp / NME

15th July 1972

ANYBODY STILL unconvinced that David Bowie will sweep all before him in the coming months of year should have witnessed the end of his remarkable concert last Saturday at the Festival Hall. With elegant flash, and just a little help from “surprise” guest Lou Reed, he coaxed the younger section of the audience down to the foot of the stage and nearly caused one girl to fall out of her box as she enthusiastically waved a banner which simply said: “Ziggy”.

Ziggy himself, alias David Bowie, is unlikely to fail. His music has an urgency lacking for too long from the music scene, his lyrics are intelligent and well-constructed and he has discovered the power of outrage on stage with the whole band now all dressed in 1990’s space-age fashion.

Bowie opened with an electric set featuring some of the best numbers from “Hunky Dory” and “Ziggy Stardust” before an acoustic spot with “Space Oddity”, “Andy Warhol” and his strangely moving version of Jacques Brel’s “Amsterdam”.

But, as the one influence that shows through strongly in Bowie’s work is that of the Velvet Underground it was natural he should drop back to become a backing musician when Lou Reed took the stage.

For his first ever appearance in Britain, Reed cavorted his way through four numbers including “White Heat” – with Bowie’s band behind him, all sounded remarkably like the originals.

But even so, it was Bowie who was unquestionably the star of the show, coming back for an encore with “Suffragette City”, to scenes of unrestrained enthusiasm. In many ways he aims for the same audience response by the same methods, as T. Rex. Is he to become the thinking man’s (or woman’s) Marc Bolan?

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