Manchester and Exeter, 1972
published: 5 /
In 'Gig of a Lifetime' Nicky Crewe looks back on her memories of attending three David Bowie gigs on the 1972 'Ziggy Stardust' tour
The shock of hearing that David Bowie had died is still reverberating through my own mind and memories, from my personal world out to the rest of the universe, fittingly even out there in space on the international space station.
There was a flurry of responses on the Pennyblackmusic contributors’ email group.
As we woke to the news we all wanted to share our connections with this amazing human being.
Of course he may have moved on but he will never be lost. Missed but not missing. His influence is everywhere, in the hearts and minds of those who watched his talents develop and grow and those who have discovered him more recently. I don’t need to tell you the breadth and depth of his talents. His music reflected the times, pushing the boundaries of fashion, culture, performance and image. As he is constantly rediscovered by new generations. he will continue to live through them. What a transcendent presence.
So, my own appreciation of Bowie started with a teenage interest in Arts Labs, thanks to 'International Times'. I had heard of Lindsay Kemp, the mime artist he worked and trained with. As I discovered the alternative world of Manchester’s Magic Village, I was attuned to music that pushed boundaries. Bowie’s poppy singles were enjoyable, but the awareness of his changing image and his amazing androgynous looks were especially intriguing.
Looking back on those heady days of the early 1970s, I’m trying to recapture the moment when I became aware of him, but in a strange way it’s as if he was always there. A mirror for my curiosity, a reflection of my desires. I didn’t get to meet him when he called in to the Magic Village one night, but I have friends who did.
I was working in Salford Central Library, killing time until I was old enough to go to University. Just before I was due to leave Manchester for Exeter a new music venue opened in Stretford. Bowie was booked for the opening weekend, Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd September 1972. The venue was Hardrock. Tickets were £1. Hardrock is now famously the B&Q store on Great Stone Road and has its own history. It’s worth taking a look at the Manchester and District Music Archive’s website for more connections.
There’s even a flyer for these concerts. I bought a ticket for the Saturday night. To put the cost in context, I earned about £13 a week. A friend then invited me to join him on the Sunday night. So I saw the Ziggy Stardust show twice in one weekend.
I was in the right place at the right time.
Then when I got to Exeter University he was booked to play the Students’ Union and I got to see him again within weeks. I loved dancing and had been part of a hippy dance troupe back in Manchester. I can remember dancing with exhilaration to exhaustion that night.
I left Exeter at the end of that first term, too homesick for the North.
Bowie’s chameleon career and influences followed me through life – soul music, experimental fashion, alien and science fantasy other worldly themes. He even made an unexpected appearance when my children were young, introducing the video of 'The Snowman'. That was their first introduction to him and the start of a lifetime’s interest for them too.
We were all his pretty things back in 1972, experimenting with fashion, image, sexuality and attitude inspired by his incredible approach to life. Though I am full of sorrow at the news of his passing, I have never felt more certain that life continues after death.
2114 Posted By: Ged Brookes, Shrewsbury on 09 Jan 2022
I also saw David Bowie back in 1972 when I was 11 or 12 years old (I went with my older brother). To be honest I am not sure which venue I went to as he also did the Spiders from Mars tour at the Free Trade Hall in April of that year. He was supported by Cat Stevens and before that Steelers Wheel with Gerry Rafferty. If they were not the support groups the day that you saw Bowie in Manchester then I must have seen him at the Free Trade Hall a few months before?The Ziggy Stardust is still in my top 3 albums of all time and is a privilege to have seen Bowie in his early days. Hope it was the Free Trade Hall as my grandad worked there a long time ago.