Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars Review

Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

You should know, this is not going to be a particularly critical review.

I love David Bowie. And it’s unconditional. I have all of his albums and his picture on my wall, so really, this won’t be objective journalistic gold. It’ll be much more the style you’d expect from a love letter written in spit and posted through your door at 3am with no stamp.

That said, it is my (ahem) un-biased honour, to tell you about the screening Mojo has put together of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, the motion picture.

Ziggy Stardust, Bowie’s alien creation, had an unmeasurable effect on popular culture. Being sat firmly on my seat in 2017, it’s impossible to imagine what Bowie looked like to 1970’s England. I could understand anyone, on seeing him for the first time, thinking he had been literally beamed down to liberate and shake a population that was suffocating in tradition and poverty. In Ziggy, Bowie managed to splash some colour on a grey England and awoke a generation to an original blend of high camp and rock.

And that’s what you see here. In all its electrifying glory.

This recording of the final show in the Ziggy tour, is literally a rise and fall. It shows the day of the show, the adoring fans waiting outside and is peppered with clips of the band backstage.

The performance itself is a high energy affair with theatrical costume changes, tons of make-up and simple rock attitude. It is also where David Bowie famously declared that ‘it would be last show they ever do’.

Thinking he was retiring, the reaction at the time, was pure shock. And this shock was no less felt within the members of Bowies own band, who he’d neglected to tell.

To give a bit of context to the film, this screening has a little accompaniment. A short interview with the last remaining Spider, drummer Woody Woodmansey.

Mojo’s editor in chief Phil Alexander sits down with Woody to discuss the years he spent working with Bowie and the events that led up to that final announcement. Phil, (seemingly doing his best Leo Sayer high on mockney pills impression) is clearly chuffed to bits with his interviewee and butters Woody with pleasant questions and lots of smiles.

For the most part this works. Woody provides plenty of insight on working with Bowie and warmly recalls anecdotes from his time spent living with him. With his flat cap and thick Yorkshire accent, Woody looks far removed from his days spent covered in glitter and lipstick, but is able to bring to life, what must have been, a career highlight.

It’s only the reluctance of Mojo to delve further into the more ruthless elements of Bowie’s character, that leave you feeling a bit short changed.

Regardless of this, you get a valuable account of a defining period in Bowie’s career and a stark reminder of just how incredible he actually was.

Tim Green

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March 2017
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