A review : David Bowie live in Memphis
As Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
At the Ellis Auditorium North Hall. Sept. 24,1972.

We all knew that this was going to be an event like no other. When tickets went on sale they sold out in a couple of hours. That's why a second show was added. I do remember that much. Also that the show was going to be on a Sunday, which was unusual. Upon viewing of a poster for this show (which I don't remember seeing around at the time), I see that the added show was a 3:00 p.m. matinee, also very unusual. In any case, I am attempting to recall events from over 30 years ago, so some of the details maybe a bit fuzzy, so please bear with me.

I know that this was a show I wanted too see badly so I went out and purchased a ticket to assure my presence was secured. At this point in time tickets to most shows at Ellis were not needed since we always knew the way into the Auditorium from the half constructed Cook Convention Center, which had remained half built for years. Everyone knew the way in back then. Some guy showed me and I showed a couple of other guys and before long everybody was sneaking into concerts that way.

We would enter through the parking garage and ascend up many flights of stairs  which  led to the roof. Once on the roof we would then open a metal hatch and climb down on a series of catwalks into the Auditorium, which  placed us directly above the stage. After a series of twists and turns we would come to a large concrete wall that had a long metal ladder attached. We would climb down this ladder which led to a small utility room that had an unlocked door leading into the seating area of the second tier. This was the way I got into so many concerts, that I don't think I could name them all even if I tried! It may sound dangerous. It was since most of the trip from the parking garage to the roof was in total darkness! We almost never had a light. Sometimes we used lighters or matches to light the way. But, once we got over the stage area there was plenty of light.

But, like I said it was dangerous, people got hurt attempting entrance. But, I never did. We had parties on   The rooftop  with sometimes as many as 25 or 30 people. We would stone out and watch the traffic coming across the bridge into Memphis.

But for Bowie, who had the top selling record in the county, I had to have a ticket, just in case.   Now onto the music. The show. Before the band took the stage there was soft classical music playing. This went on for quite a while. But when the house lights went down the music came up to a deafining level breaking into the first few notes of  the movie A CLOCKWOK ORANGE's theme music. The lights came on with an explosion and what followed was one of the best and most original shows ever presented in the River City!

A blistering set of songs in rapid order, covering most everything  from the ZIGGY album was played, Along with most of the material from HUNKY DORY. A couple of tunes from MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD and a acoustic solo version of  SPACE ODDITY  performed in regular street clothes on a simple wooden stool that stood apart as a sharp contrast from the six or so wardrobe changes that were part of this most unique show. After all this was the birth of GLITTER ROCK and it was as much a visual experience as it was musical! The sound was crystal clear and loud enough to peel the paint off the walls! The songs were all performed with note for note perfection!

There was also a MOTT THE HOPPLE tune included in the lineup. ALL THE YOUNG DUDES which Bowie not only helped to write but also acted as producer on. Seems like ALL THE WAY TO MEMPHIS Would be a natural choice, but not at this show. That tune was played in this same venue about a year later When MOTT toured and IAN HUNTER saved that little gem for last!

Memphis was the first U.S. city to get the SPIDERS  FROM MARS tour. Two identical shows. I was lucky enough to get to see them both! About a year later Bowie returned to Memphis with the DIAMOND DOGS tour which played at the Mid South Coliseum to another sold out crowd. This time the pale alien decends from a mirrored space ship lowered from the ceiling. When the space ship hatch open, a large hand with a staircase built in slowly lowers and our hero is there in all of his glitter glory. His band mates on this tour included ANSLEY DUNBAR on drums and ADRIAN BELEW on guitar. But that was another show. And as fate would have it was to be his last real "glitter" show.  Since the next stop on that tour would be DETROIT and for whatever unknown reason, Bowie abandoned the Diamond Dogs tour completely deciding then and there that  "glitter rock was dead".

He then proceeded to create a whole new show with a new band he picked up in the Motor City doing Funk and blue eyed Soul versions of his now famous songs. That is where the lp entitled DAVID LIVE came from. So Memphis has to be the real birth and death place of glitter rock. A unique distinction held by no other city in the world! I feel lucky to have been there.

- Bob X  Nov. 16, 2006