Just six months after the June 1972 release of his The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars album, David Bowie had became an interstellar icon. After staging their first US tour from September through to early December, Bowie and his band, The Spiders From Mars, returned to the UK as the road-hardened unit they’d promised to become. With early flushes of fame building into a tidal wave of Ziggymania, he booked a special homecoming gig for 24 December 1972 – Christmas Eve, no less – at London’s Rainbow Theatre, with a view to gifting fans his hardest-hitting live performance yet.
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“Whether it’s Bowiemania or Ziggymania or a combination of the two is not yet apparent”
Bowie had first unveiled his Ziggy Stardust alter ego at Friars Aylesbury, on the outskirts of London, in January 1972, before playing extensively through England, with shows in Scotland and Wales, for much of the year, in what would grow to become an 18-month world tour lasting through to July 1973. It was in the US, however, that Bowie and The Spiders began to perfect their live show, one which balanced high-octane rock with boundary-pushing theatrics. Having enlisted pianist Mike Garson ahead of The Spiders’ debut US show, at Cleveland Music Hall, on 22 September, by the time Bowie made it over to the West Coast, just under a month later, the group were performing the shows of their lives.
Broadcast on the Los Angeles-based radio station KMET FM, and given official release years later as Live Santa Monica ’72, Bowie’s 20 October show at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, in Santa Monica, California, presented the new-look Spiders in all their glory. Slaying the audience with lithe versions of Ziggy Stardust songs (Moonage Daydream, Suffragette City) and taking an animalistic prowl through his then unreleased new single, The Jean Genie, Bowie proved that he was fast becoming the rock’n’roll messiah the 70s had been waiting for.