Watch rare footage of David Bowie performing ‘Suffragette City’ at his third ever show as Ziggy Stardust
We’re digging into the Far Out Magazine vault to bring you a piece of historical footage, as David Bowie takes to the stage as Ziggy Stardust and the Spider from mars for only the third time. Watch this rarely seen and recently restored performance of ‘Suffragette City’ from 1972.
The gig that night, at Imperial College London, is considered the first time that Bowie truly found his groove with his new persona and judging by this intense proto-punk performance of his iconic Ziggy tune, we’d wholeheartedly agree.
Ziggy Stardust’s official start date is squared back to The Toby Jug in Surrey a few days prior. But it is at this show, their third ever, in the nation’s capital that Bowie and the band really began to swagger across the stage like the alien-rock stars from outer space they were intended to be.
There couldn’t be a better song to show off that imbued confidence than on the monster track ‘Suffragette City’. Not only does it feature as part of the rock backbone that supports Bowie’s concept record The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spider From Mars, but it is a highlight of the influences that went into it.
The band had only just finished recording the song, with sessions at Trident studios concluding on February 4th, 1972, when they performed the track for Imperial College. While on record the undoubted influence of Iggy and the Stooges is notable but perhaps negligible, on this live performance of the song, just 8 days later, it’s clear as day—Ziggy liked Iggy. A lot.
Bowie and Iggy Pop would go on to enjoy a harmonious working and personal relationship for years to come but with Ziggy and The Spiders Bowie paid special tribute to Iggy and the Stooges. Bowie channels him in this performance as he brings a ferocious intensity to the song which is sometimes lost on record.
Spitting lyrics with glittered pursed lips, Bowie begins the formal introductions of his new persona to a stunned crowd at the small venue. The footage of the show had previously circulated the internet via the French show INA Heroes but YouTuber, Nacho Video, noticed that the speed was off.
They said on the of the upload, “The French broadcast plays about 8% too slow. Last time around I didn’t dare correct the speed, thinking Bowie and the boys must have played it slow, in a different key that night. But with hindsight that seems very unlikely. Plus, the INA Heroes on French TV, 1977 similarly plays noticeably slow, so there seems to be a pattern…”
Some extra footage of the show does exist around in the ether but none have been as expertly restored as this fiery performance of ‘Suffragette City’. So, sit back and watch David Bowie performing as Ziggy Stardust for only the third time back in 1972.