Live: Rainbow Theatre, London

David Bowie performed for the second of two consecutive nights at London’s Rainbow Theatre on 20 August 1972.

This was the the 48th date of the Ziggy Stardust tour, which had begun on 29 January 1972.

It was David’s idea to put on a whole theatrical production for the show at the Rainbow Theatre on 19 August; a second show was added on 20 August when the first one sold out. We appeared on the poster as Ziggy Stardust and his band the Spiders – the first time, as far as I’m aware, that we were billed this way.

As I’ve mentioned, a major influence on Bowie as a performer was the mime artist Lindsay Kemp. Earlier in his career Bowie had joined Kemp’s mime classes and had actually toured with him as part of his show on several occasions. Now Bowie wanted to include Kemp and his troupe at the Rainbow and the pair of them would choreograph a show that embellished the music we were playing.

Woody Woodmansey
Spider From Mars: My Life With Bowie

Poster for David Bowie at the Rainbow Theatre, London, August 1972

Bowie performed at the Rainbow on 19 and 20 August, plus an additional date on 30 August. On the 25th he filmed the promo for ‘John, I’m Only Dancing’ there, directed by Mick Rock, who filmed and photographed parts of the shows.

The support acts on the opening nights were Roxy Music and Lloyd Watson. Bowie’s backing singers were the Astronettes – Annie Stainer, Ian Oliver, Barbara Ella, Carling Patton, and Jack Birkett, all members of Lindsay Kemp’s dance troupe. Kemp was also the stage director, and the costumes were designed and made by Natasha Kornilof.

For these first two shows Bowie and the Spiders From Mars were joined by Matthew Fisher on piano. Nicky Graham was billed on the posters, but had been dismissed by Bowie’s manager Tony Defries during rehearsals.

The show began with a screening of Un Chien Andalou, followed by ‘Ode To Joy’. Bowie emerged onto the stage swathed in dry ice.

He and the Spiders performed 18 songs: ‘Lady Stardust’, ‘Hang On To Yourself’, ‘Ziggy Stardust’, ‘Life On Mars?’, ‘The Supermen’, ‘Changes’, ‘Five Years’, ‘Space Oddity’, ‘Andy Warhol’, ‘My Death’, ‘The Width Of A Circle’, ‘Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud’, ‘Starman’, ‘Moonage Daydream’, ‘Queen Bitch’, ‘Suffragette City’, ‘White Light/White Heat’, and ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’.

Last updated: 25 April 2023
Live: Rainbow Theatre, London
Filming: John, I'm Only Dancing
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