Were you there? What our reviewers thought when David Bowie played Norwich Theatre Royal in 1973

David Bowie.

David Bowie.

What did those who were at David Bowie's Norwich gig make of it? We've dug into our archives to find the EDP and Evening News reviews from the time.

David Bowie performed at Norwich Theatre Royal in 1973.

David Bowie performed at Norwich Theatre Royal in 1973. - Credit: Archant

•Space-age rock hero in Norwich

Eastern Daily Press, Tuesday, May 22, 1973

David Bowie review from the EDP on 22 May 1973

David Bowie review from the EDP on 22 May 1973 - Credit: Archant


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Complete with two pan-technicons of sound and lighting equipment and an entourage which included a wardrobe mistress and hair stylist, rock star David Bowie arrived in Norwich yesterday.

Backed by The Spiders from Mars, he went on stage at the Theatre Royal last night for two shows which put the adjective fantastic to legitimate use.

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Music from 'A Clockwork Orange' filled the theatre to herald Bowie's appearance in the now traditional manner.

A flickering light splintered the movements of The Spiders as they took up position on stage.

David Bowie review in the Eastern Evening News on 22 May 1973

David Bowie review in the Eastern Evening News on 22 May 1973 - Credit: Archant

Then on came Bowie in one of his shimmering stage costumes and the barrage of sound began.

Lead guitarist Mick Ronson, wearing black patent trousers and high-heeled shoes, strained unearthly screams from his guitar, and Bowie struck statuesque positions between bursts at the microphone.

'Space Oddity', the song which gave Bowie space to develop his cult image, was there with some interesting light effects, along with material from his 'Ziggy Stardust' album and hit singles.

There were more outlandish costumes, more dazzling light effects, more ear-shattering sounds and then it was all over to the somewhat chaotic accompaniment of fans rushing around or just standing bemused.

Somewhere there they had seen what turns a boy from Brixton into a space-age rock hero.

The Evening News reviewer was less impressed...

•Bizarre Bowie

Eastern Evening News, Tuesday, May 22, 1973

I began to feel my age last night - all 21 years of it - when David Bowie pranced onto the stage of the Theatre Royal to a chorus of screams.

For the almost electric atmosphere that in the end had the audience shouting for more, standing in the aisles and leaning precariously over the orchestra pit, left me cold.

This personal viewpoint is the complete opposite to the feelings of the rest of the predominantly young, capacity audience.

Their adoration of this unique singer was total and absolute.

The scene before the performance resembled the razzamatazz at the start of a football match - Bowie rosettes, scarves, T-shirts, posters and souvenir programmes were on sale at prices at best described as a little steep.

When seated the suspense was heightened by announcements that David Bowie would be with us in five minutes, two minutes, etc, etc.

Then preceded by the strident sound of the march from the 'Clockwork Orange', the backing group, The Spiders from Mars, appeared, followed by the man himself.

Wearing some bizarre and weird costumes which earned him the occasional wolf whistle, this latest superstar gave the performance his fans expected.

The staging and lighting effects were admittedly brilliant but looking back all the songs were amazingly similar.

This was particularly true in the first half when the sound was ear-shattering.

A request during the interval for the volume to be turned down made the second half slightly more tolerable.

I recognised only one of the songs that had the benefit of Bowie's theatrical talents.

But it seemed that a sight of their idol was enough to tantalise the fans.

The enthusiastic young girls in the front row who actually touched Bowie's hand probably left the theatre in a state of euphoria.

I took home a headache.

Peter Wilson, chief executive of Norwich Theatre Royal, was at the gig in 1973. He wrote:

David Bowie made one highly memorable appearance as Ziggy Stardust at Norwich Theatre Royal on Monday 21 May, 1973, performing in two concerts as part of the theatre's Superstar Carnival Week - which also featured Jimmy Tarbuck and Monty Python's Flying Circus.

There was a huge demand for Bowie tickets with people queueing right down to the city's Woolworths store (now Marks and Spencer) to try and secure seats.

Theatre staff at the time also reported touts outside the building selling tickets for at least double the value to people desperate to see David on stage while in his Ziggy Stardust phase.

It was a tremendous coup to attract such a musical icon to the stage and is still remembered by many, more than 40 years after his appearance in the city.

That, plus his ever-changing image and musical style, have made him a much-respected and loved performer whose restless energy, talent and ability leaves a legacy which will live on long after his death.

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