Live: Shinjuku Kōsei Nenkin Kaikan, Tokyo

David Bowie and the Spiders From Mars performed at the Shinjuku Kōsei Nenkin Kaikan (東京厚生年金会館) in Tokyo, Japan, on 8 April 1973.

It was the 103rd date of the Ziggy Stardust Tour, which had begun on 29 January 1972.

We were faced with an audience that we presumed didn’t understand a word of what I was saying. There I was more physical than on any other tour that I’ve ever done. Literally, I activated the whole thing with my hands and my body. I needn’t have sung half the time. The Japanese are theatrical and far more aware than either England or America.
David Bowie
NME, 9 June 1973

This was the first Japanese date of the tour, and the first of three shows at the Shinjuku Kōsei Nenkin Kaikan. The others were on 10 and 11 April 1973.

Our first gig of our tour of Japan was at the Shinjuku Koseinenkin Hall in Tokyo and it was a sensation. David received an uncharacteristically wild reception from the obviously socially repressed and rock-music starved audience. Though the venue was not as big as those that we had played across the USA, the noise produced by the Tokyo audience – predominately made up of young girls – was much louder. It was a shrill, high frequency sound, and it was deafening. On some of our songs I couldn’t hear a thing I played, the on-stage monitors in Tokyo were poor (worse than the ones on the USA tour) and almost useless, and I thought of the Beatles’ experience at Shea Stadium back in the sixties, not hearing anything and not being heard. It appeared that the crowd could hear David Bowie alright though, and next morning the Japan Times reported that: ‘Musically, he is the most exciting thing that has happened since the fragmentation of the Beatles, and theatrically he is possibly the most interesting performer ever in the pop music genre’. Both the illustrated pop music magazines, and also the strange hand-drawn ‘thriller’ magazines that are so popular in Japan, carried spectacular photographs (and drawings) of David Bowie straddling Mick Ronson mid guitar solo. Many of the excellent tour photographs were to be taken by another of David’s Japanese acquaintances, the talented Masayoshi Sukita. David had met Sukita in London a year previously, and had asked the photographer to accompany the Japanese tour from start to finish.

Geoff MacCormack had wanted a live action stage photograph to send home to his mum, and so by prior arrangement, mid concert in Tokyo, David leaped up on to the auxiliaries’ rostrum between Geoff and me (the only night he ever did that) whilst Sukita took the photograph of the three of us. My mum was to appreciate the picture too.

John ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson
Bowie & Hutch

The setlist

Last updated: 9 May 2023
Rehearsal: RCA Nippon Victor, Tokyo
David Bowie sees Tomasa Boru live
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