19-08-72 London


David Bowie live 1964-2004

19. August 1972

London, Rainbow Theatre



Looking back on Bowie’s career the first show held in the Rainbow Theatre in August 1972 is one of the most famous and probably one of the highlights of the very long Ziggy Stardust tour.


Bowie and the Spiders rehearsed the new show in Theatre Royal, East Stafford for almost two weeks prior to the show. Involved in the rehearsals was Lindsey Kemp, who was responsible for the choreography in which he also took an active part. He also assisted in selecting some of the costumes resembling spiders’s web worn by the Astronettes – Kemp’s mime troupe.

Angie Bowie was brought in to organize the lighting for the spectacular event, which was to be captured on film by a Japanese television unit. Actually parts of the show circulate on video but in my opinion in an awfully bad quality; however, who cares when it’s such a historical event.

The Rainbow Theatre, also known as the Astoria Cinema when used as such, was the venue chosen to accomodate this heavily publizised gigs (19th and 20th). The supporting acts for the sell out show were Lloyd Watson and Roxy Music.


Prior to the show Bowie and the Spiders rehearsed in the theatre in the afternoon and part os this rehearsals was filmed by Mick Rock, part of which was used for the promo video of John, I’m only Dancing shown on Top of The Pops.


While Ode to Joy drew to it’s close Bowie emerged out of the dry ice strumming a twelve string guitar. The face of Marc Bolan was projected onto a screen to the left of the stage – one of many images shown that night to illustrate the songs. To this image Bowie sang Lady Stardust, accompanied by Matthew Fischer on piano. Bowie sang in a narrative fashion telling of how he and the Spiders had made it from the malll clubs to this, his own spectacular Broadway style complete with dancing girls. After this very unorthodox beginning – the one and only live performance of Lady Stardust – the running order followed the usual format.


Made as a scaffolding, the stage was of a multilevel arrangement covered in sawdust like that of a circus tent. The many levels became of use when Bowie, the highwire attraction, underwent a costume change. He would reappear on stage on a different level to the dancing troupe, either above or below. This gave maximum impact to the beginning of a new song, and from this entry point he could move up and down the levels via ladders at either side of the scaffolding.


The extended drum introduction, before Bowie appeared on stage out of breath, to begun Five Years, is an example of Bowie undergoing a costume change and taking too long. Following Five Years Bowie and Ronson falter whilst delivering the Space Oddity blast off sound orally, causing widespread amusement amongst the crowd. Before My Death Bowie spoke for the first time, ”This is a Jacques Brel number, but it’s not Port of Amsterdam. It’s equally as cheerful and it’s called My Death”. It is the first ever version of this number by Bowie. Also worth noting is, that Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud at this show is performed it its entirety. This is the first and only time this song is played on the Ziggy Stardust Tour. Later on the Aladdin Sane Tour Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud was played in the well-known medley.

When Bowie sang Starman, Kemp sat on stage wearing wings and a wig, smoking a joint. Bowie discarded some of the regular lyrics, supplementing them with a few line from Judy Garland’s Over the Rainbow in recognition of the venue.


After working the audience into a fenzy with Suffragette City Bowie delivered two Velvet Underground numbers Waiting For the Man and White Light White Heat. The latter was reminiscent of Velvet’s cut – long and drawn out. The show proved Bowie’s worth and was enthusiastically recieved by all present – not least of all Lou Reed. Even the press were complimentary to a degree.

After Waiting for the Man Bowie thanks and introduces the personel on stage before saying goodnight. Only a couple of minutes seperate the mainset with the encores. Actually the live tape, whicj exists from the show do only hold first part of Moonage Daydream, but I believe the shows was concluded with Rock’n’Roll Suicide.



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Lady Stardust*

Hang on to Yourself

Ziggy Stardust

Life on Mars



Five Years

Space Oddity

Andy Warhol

My Death

Width of a Circle

Wild Eyed Bowie From Freecloud**


Queen Bitch

Suffragette City

White Light, White Heat

Waiting Fot The Man


Moonage Daydream

R'n'R Suicide


* performed for the first and only time on the tour


** only performance of full version of this song




Collectors section


Live tape:

85 minutes, poor sound quality (last part of Moonage Daydream is missing)

BowieLive & Peter Frederiksen 2016 © All Rights Reserved