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Linda Soloman - New Music (7 October 1972)
Review of Carnegie Hall Concert - 28 September 1972
David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars spun a golden web at Carnegie Hall. New York's dudes and dudesses had been waiting for this knight in shining armour and they were not to be disappointed. It seems in the confrontation between Marc Bolan and David Bowie, Bowie comes away the winner in an undeclared contest.
The concert started late and people were not admitted until well after the appointed hour. So they stood in front of Carnegie and observed the fashions and the arrival of friends and associates. It looked like a freak Easter Parade, with a fine array of threads and a lot of simulated stardust - mostly visible in glitter painted eyelids, foreheads, shoulders, elbows, cleavage, and knees.
Velvet was all over the place. Sequins galore. Leather and suede. Plus silver lame, golden gauze, floppy feathers, and ridiculously dangerous high platform shoes and boots for both genders, in metallic leather and snakeskins.
A trend which should probably be attributed to Bowie was the frequent presence of brightly coloured hair or wigs. There was a person with a bold kelly green painted stripe running through his/her shoulder length mop, and there were several mellow boys with patches of light blue or off-white hair who were seen checking out the crowd and hobnobbing with the swells.
One guy had his face painted with metallic gold. He was wearing a midi length skirt over matching trousers. Yes, there were many transvestites with weird hair, wild clothes, and built up bosoms casing the place.
RCA's publicity department claims that there were 400 request for 100 press tickets for Bowie's show.
Singer Ruth Copeland opened the show and proved very loud, but not too exciting. She is primarily known for having displayed her navel in full living colour on her record jacket. That's not enough to keep people rooted in their seats when they're waiting on David Bowie.
The big scene started with an elaborate taped music interlude from "Clockwork Orange". Then a blast of science fiction like, eyeball breaking, blue-white streaking thunderbolt: a monster strobe, really nasty on the yes. And along came Bowie and the Spiders.
He may resemble a distaff Howdy Doody, but Bowie knows his audience, and gives them what they are waiting for. The scene is theatrical but it works.
The lighting in general was pretty fine - a whole lot better than the Carnegie sound system, which, from where I sat, was little more than an echo and a lot of jumbled words of new material - which we would have like to have heard.
I could attempt a critical review, but considering the sound from where I was, it really wouldn't be fair or accurate. Suffice to say that the audience clapped on "Space Oddity" where there is clapping on the original album cut, and the people listened to the music most of the time instead of going berserk over themselves - which does sometimes happen with New York rock audiences.
Bowie sang Brel's famous acerbic "Port of Amsterdam"1 and people listened. His rendering expressed pathos and understanding of the lyric. And it's not an easy song to put over.
The bass amp went out during the Velvet Underground Lou Reed number 'White Light White Heat," but Bowie had 'em dancing in place, or perched on the rims of their seats.
It certainly was an occassion. Bowie was impressive, his band was tight, and there is a rumour that he may come back to New York by or around Christmas.
And when he comes back, I'm going to be sitting down front, where I can hear him as well as see his act.
1 The writer probably meant "My Death"
---This page last modified: 12 Dec 2018---