1967 saw the release of D. A. Pennebaker’s Dont Look Back, a landmark release in both film and music history. The film covered Bob Dylan’s 1965 concert tour in England. Pennebaker followed this with Monterey Pop, featuring performances from The Mamas & The Papas, Simon & Garfunkel, The Who and The Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Monterey Pop Festival, which is now held in the same esteem as Woodstock. These films (as well as the follow-ups he did with Dylan) saw him continue to work with many more influential rock artists including John Lennon, Jerry Lee Lewis and David Bowie.
Mime, singer, actor, writer – David Bowie was artist like no other. It’s difficult to try and box Bowie, and even attempting to do so is probably missing the point. A year ago, just days after the release of his 25th album, Blackstar, Bowie passed away following a fight with cancer, leaving the world mourning one of the most versatile performers in history.
In 1973’s Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, Pennebaker captured Bowie – as arguably his best-known persona, Ziggy Stardust – and his band, The Spider from Mars, performing at London’s Hammersmith Odeon. It was at this infamous concert that Bowie made the sudden announcement, “it’s the last show we’ll ever do,” ending his time as Ziggy Stardust and closing a hugely important chapter in Bowie’s career.
This concert is an unforgettable reminder of why Bowie is remembered with such love, with performances of his own songs, including Ziggy Stardust, All The Young Dudes and Changes, as well as interpretations of The Rolling Stones’ Let’s Spend The Night Together and Lou Reed’s White Light/White Heat (an incredibly powerful moment of the film, which is bound to make you jump from your seat). This is the level that other artists hope to reach when performing live.
Pennebaker captured something that day that is impossible to replicate. His camera saw inside the soul of Bowie and Ziggy (both one and the same), and this is what pulls the audience in from the opening moments until the dazzling finale. It’s easy to forget you are watching this on the big screen – in fact, you just end up believing you are watching Bowie live, like he’s in the room with you. Sharing the experience in a room full of other people is exactly the best way to see this film – to feel others emotions and feed off the atmosphere.
This production also features a brand new, exclusive film featuring an in-conversation with Spiders drummer, Woody Woodmansey, which opens up the concert and film in ways that have never been explored before, providing further insight into what he describes as “the adventure of a lifetime.”