Ziggy Stardust returns to Hammersmith
Fifty years ago, Ziggy Stardust strutted on stage for the final time at the Hammersmith Odeon as David Bowie told the 5,000-strong audience it was to be the last outing for his alien alter-ego following a 17-month world tour.
Now newer generations – as well as original fans – will be able to experience some of the magic of that 1973 Hammersmith gig when a restored film of the concert is shown in the original venue.
The Eventim Apollo – today’s name for the old Odeon – hosts the premiere of the screening this summer, 50 years to the day since Ziggy retired, before the enhanced, uncut film of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars: The Motion Picture goes on general release in more than 1,000 cinemas around the world.
Tickets for the premiere on Monday 3 July are available via the Eventim Apollo box office, with doors opening at 5.30pm.
Some scenes cut from the original documentary film have been restored, including guitarist Jeff Beck’s playing of the hit Jean Genie, and the film also features fans in Hammersmith on the night of the gig, and scenes in the backstage dressing room.
The premiere on 3 July will be preceded by on-stage chats with musicians who worked with Bowie, discussing the legacy of the musician’s extra-terrestrial rock star character, whose impact on fashion, culture and music is felt to this day.
Director DA Pennebaker filmed the now-legendary concert, with Bowie’s production collaborator Tony Visconti remixing the sound for the re-release.
The film was first seen a decade after the final Ziggy gig, with Bowie’s record company, RCA, also releasing a live album in 1983 after thousands of bootleg versions were illegally sold.
The sound quality of the LP was reckoned to be poor, but new digital enhancement techniques have polished up the original tracks, including ‘Space Oddity’, ‘Changes’, ‘Suffragette City’ and ‘All the Young Dudes’.
Test of time
Drummer Woody Woodmansey – the sole survivor of the original Spiders from Mars backing band – felt as ambushed as the fans in Hammersmith 50 years ago when Bowie announced on stage that it would be Ziggy’s last show.
“I never thought I’d get sacked that publicly,” he admitted. “We’d been working for several years with Bowie, and we’d built it up in America, Japan and the UK, and it was at its peak after 200 concerts, and we were hot… especially those two nights that we did in Hammersmith.”
At first Woody thought the announcement was just another publicity stunt. But a week later he learned it really had been the disbandment of the Spiders. Today, he still plays gigs and includes Bowie songs from the Ziggy era.
He is also regularly asked to sign Ziggy LPs and memorabilia and says he is constantly surprised that it’s for a new generation of music fans rather than for their mums or grans!
“The music has stood the test of time,” he said.
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