Recorded live at the Santa Monica auditorium by local station KMET, Live Santa Monica ’72 captures David Bowie at the height of his Ziggy Stardust phase. His band was one of his classic line-ups – Mick Ronson on lead guitar, Trevor Bolder on bass, Mick “Woody” Woodmansey on drums, and Mike Garson on keyboards, and the set list is excellent.
Opening with “Hang On to Yourself,” Bowie and his pals come out rocking. Ronson and Bolder immediately put down riffs to show the audience they mean business. They tear into “Ziggy Stardust” and “Changes” right after, throwing down two tracks you’d figure they’d have in the encore but put on early instead. They’re great reminders of Ronson’s guitar skills. He was at the top of his funky game.
Bowie gets a little obscure, but still wows the crowd, with “The Supermen,” and then delivers a great performance of “Life on Mars?” (while Garson’s piano accompanies him quite well). Woodmansey puts down a slick beat on “Five Years,” and the crowd cheers in appreciation for it and Bowie’s assured vocals.
“Space Oddity” is another crowd favorite, of course, and Bowie uses his voice instead of his guitar to make the sound of Major Tom’s rocket rising from the surface of the Earth into orbit. “Andy Warhol” is a nice inclusion on this recording, as you don’t hear live versions of it much, let alone “My Death” (just Bowie and his guitar), “The Width of a Circle” (Ronson at his rocking best), and “Queen Bitch.”
Bowie introduces “Moonage Daydream” as “a song written by Ziggy,” and the whole band cooks on it. They’re fast and loose with “John, I’m Only Dancing,” and the inclusion of a cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Waiting for the Man” is a nice treat. “Jean Genie” is wonderfully distorted cock rock. Bowie and his pals are so cheeky by now that Bowie momentarily screws up the lyrics of the closer “Suffragette City,” but he makes up for it during the encore of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide.”
It’s a great piece of Bowie history and worth the price if you’re a fan of the Thin White Duke, especially if you like his Ziggy Stardust / “classic” period.
Keep your mind open.
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