It was 1973, a year when Newcastle Town Hall hosted some of the biggest names in rock and pop music.
Elton John, Roxy Music, Slade, Genesis, Deep Purple, Fleetwood Mac, Status Quo, Lou Reed, The Rolling Stones, Wings, Yes, Neil Young, Lindisfarne and even Chuck Berry were among those who graced the Northumberland Road venue.
But perhaps the brightest star to descend on Town Hall that year was David Bowie, who was in the midst of a sprawling world tour as his iconic Ziggy Stardust alter ego.
READ MORE: Newcastle in 1997 – 10 photographs
Nearly 50 years after the event, rarely seen photographs of the public queuing outside the hall have emerged from our extensive archive.
Some fans are dressed like their rock idol at the time, with platform shoes, rolled up pants, long woolen socks and painted faces.
(If anyone knows the identity of the boy wearing Ziggy’s distinctive makeup, or sees this item himself, please get in touch. We’d love to chat. He’ll be somewhere in his 60s these days .!)
Bowie’s mammoth tour had started at Aylesbury Assembly Hall in January 1972 and would take place in the UK, America and Japan, before returning to Britain where it came to a spectacular end at Hammersmith Odeon in July 1973 , when he informed a grief-stricken audience that he was retiring. He wasn’t, of course, but Ziggy Stardust’s character was.
With tickets priced princely at £1.35, the 26-year-old singer will play two sold-out shows at Newcastle Town Hall – a matinee and an evening performance – on Friday June 8, 1973.
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Not for the first or last time at the famous venue, the evening would be enveloped in fan frenzy.
“Rock riot breaks out at City Hall concert” was the main story on the front page of the following day’s Evening Chronicle.
“Scheduled to do two performances, Bowie threw the evening into chaos when he started 40 minutes late,” it was reported.
“Lines built up outside City Hall for the second performance of the evening as Bowie played an encore.
“The hysterical fans inside the venue were restrained by bouncers as they rushed to the front of the stage. Efforts to keep them in their seats were largely unsuccessful.
“During the first performance, the girls were treated to shock and the first three rows of the venue were completely fucked up by the fans.
“The seats collapsed under the weight of hundreds of clinging teenagers, some of whom were injured.
“Many of the fans at the front of the room had to be lifted from the crowd on stage to escape being crushed.
Amidst that, we reported, “Bowie enticed his bubbly, painted followers with provocative moves and embraced the fans who rushed to the front of the stage, while the girls threw a shower of clothes on him. “
Meanwhile, an argument broke out between the town hall stewards and the guards and the singer’s entourage. “It was chaos,” said a spokesperson. “Nobody knew what was going on.”
Looks like it was all night.
Long after Ziggy Stardust passed away, David Bowie would return to the region as one of the world’s biggest music stars – in 1978, at City Hall; in 1987, at Roker Park in Sunderland; in 1991 at Newcastle Mayfair; in 1995 as the first major artist to perform at Newcastle Arena; and in 1997 at Newcastle Riverside.
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