David Bowie, “The Last Show We’ll Ever Do” (Eat A Peach 68/69)
Hammersmith Odeon, London, UK. 3rd of July, 1973
Disc 1 – Introduction by Barry Bethal / Mike Garson’s Medley / Clockwork Orange theme (Beethoven’s Ode to Joy) / Hang on to Yourself / Ziggy Stardust / Watch That Man / Wild Eyed Boy From Free cloud (medley) – All the Young Dudes – Oh, You Pretty Things / Moonage Daydream / Changes / Space Odyssey / My Death
Disc 2 – (Announcement and the William Tell Overture) / Cracked Actor / Time / Width of aCircle (BandIntroduction) / Let’s Spend the Night Together / Suffragette City / White Light White Heat / Jean Genie / Round and Round / Rock and Roll Suicide / Pomp and Circumstance by Edward Elgar
There are a few singular concerts considered to be famous enough outside of bootleg circles to be pinned to the mast of rock nostalgia. Concerts that the purists would love to have claimed to have attended, thousands of others who would slap their thigh and curse, “I wish I was there!”.
Of those shows, the event of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars at the Hammersmith Odeon, London on the 3rd of July, 1973 must stand at nearly the stop of the stack. As a rising star in Britain and beyond, Bowie was beyond cool for several thousand teenagers for whom Donny Osmond was too shallow and the glam craze just a little too glamorous for tastes. His career had already shot the trajectory between a hippyish troubadour to space race speaker, his eventual transformation to the alien, Ziggy Stardust had further cemented his cause and now he held pop in the palm of his hand. At the time, however, his fans wouldn’t have had so much of a clue as to how quickly boredom might set in. For that fact, neither could his band as with a brief, seemingly off the cuff, sign off towards the end of the night, Bowie would give the Spiders – Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder, Woody Woodmansley – their leave and as they stumbled, confused towards the dressing room, Bowie left into a car and on to his new phase.
This recording is a new soundboard unearthing – Originally offered via mail order on CDR from sound engineer at that very same evening, Robin Mayhew, the recording is a rather different contrast to the masses of bootlegs that have appeared before. It obviously took a long time for Bowie to release his own version of the show (10 years later) and because of the insistence of Jeff Beck – guesting guitar player on ‘Jean Genie’ / ‘Love Me Do’ and Around and Around – of having his part removed, it was down to the first selection of bootleggers to try to offer the best version of this show to cover the gaps.
The first and most notorious of these releases would have been ‘His Masters Voice’ a single LP on the TAKRL label that featured the abbreviated show with a couple of extra bonus tracks for completeness. Attempts have been made to fill the gap since, including by Mainman to present the concerts in it’s fullest but Beck’s refusal, the Earl Slick guitar and later Bowie overdubs and the fact that the extant tapes recorded at the time were bulked by Mick Ronson to improve his own sound then the original tapes, as recorded, were assumed not to exist anymore. Or rather until now when Robin’s soundboard recording brings us, unexpurgated, the complete concert as committed to tape that night.
Firstly however, the introduction by Barry Bethal, whipping excitement up with the crowd, pointing out the miscellaneous merchandise and getting the audience set is, by the tapes standards, a little hissy. this may be because the recording equipment was generally set up to withstand the electronic noise and once Mike Garson’s medley (An instrumental blend of Bowie’s greatest hits so far ) begins, the tape changes atmosphere accordingly. As anyone knows, these pieces are previously unheard and should be the jewel in the crown for this set but that we’re essentially unmixed and undoubted, several variations begin to work themselves out from other releases for instance a louder piano in the presence of ‘Jean Genie’ for one, flutes higher in the mix on the ‘Wild Eyed Boy ..’ medley.
This is a fantastic release by the Eat A Peach label, especially in lieu of a decent official release of the concert that won’t divide fan’s opinions and a rather shabby cut and paste unofficial release. This will possibly be the last word in this fantastic, classic concert. Don’t miss it!