Night Music: David Bowie and the Spiders From Mars, “Hang On To Yourself”

I did not know about DA Pennebaker’s Ziggy Stardust movie until yesterday. Poor me.

It seems that Bowie had plans to retire the The Spiders from Mars as his backing band after these very shows, as well as Ziggy Stardust as his stage persona. He invited Pennebaker to record a couple of songs, for posterity, but the legendary director of music films (Don’t Look Back among others)ghby saw a bigger chance, and recorded the weekend of shows at the Hammersmith Odeon.

With word out that the Spiders were done, many took that to mean that the willful Bowie was retiring from the stage himself. I watched half of this today and it is so fine, a mixture of fab musical performance and just enough verite color to make it all feel immediate and up close.

There is a DVD of the whole show that surely has better pictures and sound, but this clip will give you an indelible taste.

5 thoughts on “Night Music: David Bowie and the Spiders From Mars, “Hang On To Yourself”

  1. I’ve known about this movie for a long time yet have never watched it. Why I do not know. Must go on the bucket list. Interesting, in that I think the sound is kind of empty, which a hired touring rhythm guitar would’ve fixed in a big hurry. Of course, I know everything.

  2. One of my all time favorite moments in music-mentary, towards the end of the film, during Rock and Roll Suicide, Bowie keeps belting out ‘gimme your hands cause your wonderful’, arms outstretched (I start to remember listening to it back in the day and thinking hell-yeah I’m wonderful), and some poor peaceable kid from the audience comes up to the stage to try to do just that and Bowie swats him away and then he’s set upon by security.
    a crack in the facade.

  3. I just love this period, and especially Ronson, who is indeed among my favorite (and vastly under-rated) guitar players (along with Peter Green, Richard Thompson, Nina Gerber, and Bill Frisell). Mick Taylor and Keef are pretty good, too.

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