With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

Mike Garson’s “A Bowie Celebration… Just For One Day” – Saturday January 9th 2021 January 19, 2021


I have watched a few streamed shows since this awful pandemic kicked in and like many of us I don’t believe that this type of show can ever replace real gigs. But for now this is all we have so let’s use it. As a huge Bowie fan for nearly 50 years I was obviously looking forward to this show. It was curated by the Dame’s long term piano man Mike Garson and included a wonderful range of Bowie alumni and a stack of special guests performing songs (around 40) from across the Starman’s career. It was an “as live” stream but incredibly well put together. The behind the scenes crew deserve a huge round of applause, they clearly did an amazing job, which in turn helped to provide us punters with three hours of classy Bowie themed entertainment.

First up was Duran Duran with their version of the ‘Ziggy Stardust’ album opener “Five Years”, I have never been a huge fan of Simon Le Bon’s voice, but this was a staggeringly good version of an iconic song. Duran Duran really pulled this off with aplomb. Lzzy Hale off of Halestorm was aided and abetted by Tony award winning actress and singer Lena Hall for a wonderfully theatrical cover of “Moonage Daydream”, very much a star performance from Lzzy and Lena. I have been a Smashing Pumpkins fan for many years, so I was looking forward to Billy Corgan’s piano led take on “Space Oddity”. But I felt it wasn’t a great performance, I am really not sure that Billy’s voice suited the song in this setting. Sorry Mr Corgan! Perry Farrell took on “The Man Who Sold The World” partnered by his wife Etty Lau Farrell and it was a perfect spine tingling take on one of Bowie’s finest tunes. Next there was a bluesy run through a somewhat deep cut, “Bring Me The Disco King” by Anna Calvi. This was originally a track released as a part of 2003’s ‘Reality’ album. Regular readers will know that I am not a fan of Take That’s Gary Barlow, so I cringed a little when I saw his name on the list. But to be very honest the boy did good. Barlow didn’t choose an easy option and went with 1975’s “Fame”. A real Five Star performance from Mr Barlow.

Living Colour’s Corey Glover was spot on with his gorgeous run through of “Young Americans”. This was followed by one of my favourite songs from that period, “Can You Hear Me” performed by the obscenely talented Gail Ann Dorsey who played in Bowie’s band for many years. “Sweet Thing/ Candidate/ Sweet Thing (Reprise)” is a tough song to cover but Bernard Fowler, highly regarded backing vocalist who has supplied backing vox to the Stones among many others didn’t just cover the song, he owned it and frankly, blew me away. Possibly my favourite performance of the whole event. Charlie Sexton, a man who has played with an incredible number of music luminaries appeared next with a funky work out of the 1983 classic “Let’s Dance” the first of four songs by him on the night. Judith Hill, a woman who has worked with Michael Jackson, Prince and John Legend to name just a few was next with a haunting rendition of “Lady Stardust” backed by some beautiful piano from Mike Garson. “Changes” as reimagined by Macy Gray was epic, where have you been Macy, the world needs you. Kevin Armstrong who worked with Bowie in the 80s played a rather excellent version of the Mick Ronson arrangement of Richard Rodgers’ “Slaughter On Tenth Avenue” which was dedicated by Mike Garson, to the memory of Ronson, Bowie and all Bowie alumni that have passed away.

Jazz Singer Catherine Russell sang an arrangement of “Conversation Piece” from the ‘Space Oddity’ album that was completely unrecognisable from the original and for me that made it a perfect cover version, I loved it! Next up was the return of Charlie Sexton with a Stones style take on Bowie’s Stones pastiche “Rebel Rebel”. This is one of my favourite songs from Bowie and Sexton did a great job with it. Def Leppard’s Joe Elliot was on board for two songs and I was a little surprised at his first one, “Win” from 1975’s ‘Young Americans’ album. Surprised but definitely not disappointed, Joe’s voice was immaculate and accompanied by the kind of piano heaven we have come to expect from Mike Garson. For the second song in his brace of Bowie Joe Elliott rocked hard through a powerful performance of “Ziggy Stardust”. Taylor Momsen frontwoman of the Pretty Reckless had a film to accompany her rendition of one of my favourite Bowie songs, especially lyrically, “Quicksand”. She really did the Dame proud it was quite moving at times and I love the subtle touches of her film, and to finish having written Bowie’s name in the sand was special indeed. Charlie Sexton returned for two more songs “DJ” and “Blue Jean”. Both of them fine performances and in fact the latter has moved me to reappraise my view of Bowie’s 80s output which is in my opinion mostly his low point artistically. But on this evidence, perhaps “Blue Jean” isn’t so bad after all. I saw Michael C Hall in the lead role of Thomas Jerome Newton in the Bowie musical ‘Lazarus’ in London in 2016, he was rather wonderful in that and his incredibly moving version of “Where Are We Now” here was wonderful too.

Foo Fighter’s drummer Taylor Hawkins, ably supported by Dave Navarro played a lively and rambunctious “Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide”. This segued into Corey Taylor doing “Hang On To Yourself” aided and abetted by Dave Navarro, Taylor Hawkins and Chris Chaney. But that segue included a nice little romp through “Little Fat Man” from Bowie’s appearance in Ricky Gervais’ ‘Extras’. Actor Gary Oldman was next accompanied by Mike Garson’s eloquent ivories for “I Can’t Read”. I liked that a lot! Jesse Malin’s “Jean Genie” really was top drawer, he aced it. The return of Gail Ann Dorsey brought with it a touchingly sublime take on “Srangers When We Meet”. The show then rocked out wildly with Peter Frampton on “Suffragette City” duties. This was followed by a brace of songs by a great friend and sometime collaborator of Bowie, Trent Reznor supported by Atticus Roos for “Fantastic Voyage” and “Fashion”. “Fantastic Voyage” which was never played often by Bowie was pretty darned good. Ian Astbury tackle “Lazarus”, he did well and put a lot of emotion into it, but I would also liked to have seen Ian tackle something more rock based, even a Tin Machine track maybe. YUNGBLUD poured his very essence into “Life On Mars” and it payed off in dividends, legendary keyboard player Rick Wakeman supported Mr BLUD. Long time Bowie fan Boy George was on top form for his medley of “Lady Grinning Soul”, “Time” and “Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)”. Mr O’Dowd, great respect from me, you nailed it. I was particularly looking forward to Ian Hunter’s performance and I wasn’t disappointed. He kicked off with his Bowie tribute “Dandy” and finished, obviously, with my favourite Bowie song ever, “All The Young Dudes”. I have never been much of a fan of Adam Lambert but there is no denying that he really did “Starman” well, perhaps enough to make me an Adam Lambert fan, time will tell. Judith Hill returned to support Andra Day as they cranked up “Under Pressure” into something even more anthemic than Bowie and Queen managed originally. Bernard Fowler closed proceedings with a highly charged “Heroes” which included some rather excellent drumming from Nandi Bushell.

The credits rolled with a rather decent “Ashes To Ashes” instrumental. Let us not forget the great band members and Bowie alumni that performed throughout the event too, Mike Garson especially, thank you for putting this together Mr Garson. Other band members throughout the evening, that I haven’t already mentioned, were, I think, Guitar: Earl Slick, Gerry Leonard and Carlos Alomar Bass: Carmine Rojas, Mark Plati, Tony Visconti, Tony Levin, Emir Kasan, Erdal Kizcilcay Keyboards: Richard Cottle, Henry Hey; Drums: Alan Childs, Zach Alford, Sterling Campbell, Matt Chamberlain, Omar Hakim, Mark Guiliana, John Lousteau, Gregg Errico, Andy Newark; Backing vocals: Gaby Moreno, Everett Bradley, Robin Clark, Emm Gryner, Ava Cherry, Simon Westbrook; Percussion: Pablo Rosario; Sax: David Sanborn, Clare Hirst, Stan Harrison. I am sure I have missed some names, but thank you to one and all this was a very special event and Mr Bowie would have loved it!

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“We’ll build a glass asylum, with just a hint of mayhem” January 8, 2018


Regular readers of this blog know that I am a big David Bowie fan. This began in July 1972 when I witnessed that now-iconic performance of “Starman” on BBC’s Top Of The Pops. I was lucky enough to see him play live ten times from 1976 to 2004 and I still buy every release, and to be fair there have been many since his death nearly two years ago. I recently received the latest in the seven-inch vinyl picture disc series, the 40th-anniversary release of the “Beauty And The Beast” single. It has a terrific version of “Blackout” on the B Side. Today would have been the Dame’s 71st birthday, I know to many of you that probably sounds old, but it is only 12 years older than me! Obviously like many fans, I was saddened by his passing, but I am still somewhat freaked out by the amount of on-line Bowie fans that still speak of their despair at his loss, how they still wake up crying.

But enough of that morbidity, I do still celebrate the birthday of the late David Robert Jones. On a work day that means that I wear my David Bowie cuff links as I did today. I also received a few more David Bowie related books at Christmas, I think I now own around 70 in total. One of those Christmas presents was ‘David Bowie – A Life’ by Dylan Jones. Jones met and interviewed Bowie on many occasions and he uses that material along with old and new interviews with many people who were a part of the world of David Bowie. This includes the Spiders From Mars, Dana Gillespie, Bob Harris, Earl Slick, Mike Garson, Carlos Alomar, Peter Frampton, Nina Simone, Mick Rock, Nick Kent, Charles Shaar Murray, Bebe Buell and Coco Schwab to name just a few. The book is organised chronologically and is incredibly well put together. In my opinion it is beyond doubt the best Bowie biography for many years and easily the best to be published since his demise. It is tasteful and manages to unearth a few things that personally I had never read before; How he had tried to reform the Spiders From Mars in 1978 and how in the US in the early 1970s someone turned up at his hotel suite and offered him a still warm, dead body to have sex with. In respect of the latter he was apparently visibly shocked and upset and turned the offer down. When he lived in Mustique at a property he used to own there he often referred to one drink from the cocktail menu in Basil’s Bar as a Penis Colada.

This evening I have also dug out the magnificent Alan Yentob documentary ‘Cracked Actor’ from the mid-70s. It is a fascinating portrait of a talented man in a spiral of cocaine addiction and ensuing paranoia. In many ways it is a magnificent insider view of the transition from the Halloween Jack character of the post-apocalyptic tales on ‘Diamond Dogs’ into the white soul boy of ‘Young Americans’. If you have never seen it, whether you are a fan or not you should check it out. From just the social history perspective it is truly fascinating. This is a bit of a Bowie ramble I know, but I haven’t done a Bowie post for a while, well apart from the specific one about the song “Andy Warhol” back in December. I don’t really need an excuse to play some Bowie tunes, but a 71st birthday and the impending second anniversary of his death works for me. Let’s celebrate the Dame’s wonderful recordings together, what is your favourite David Bowie song? My top three favourites are currently; “Quicksand”, “Young Americans” and “Lady Grinning Soul“.

As a footnote the eagle-eyed readers and bat-eared listeners may have sussed out where I took the title of my blog from, go on take a guess!

 

Gregory Porter – Harrogate International Centre – Saturday 11th July 2015 July 11, 2015


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The delectable Catwoman and I took ourselves off to see the supremely talented Gregory Porter in Harrogate on Saturday night. Without a doubt he is an incredibly talented singer. If you see him as ‘just’ a jazz singer then you need to think again, yes he is very much in the jazz field but this guy also oozes soul and he can sing gospel and blues. His band is incredible and could easily work as an instrumental band in their own right. But when you add Mr Porter’s voice to the magical sounds the band produce you have a perfect mix.

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Until tonight I had only really heard the songs from his ‘Liquid Spirit’ album. I hadn’t appreciated that this was his third album! Gregory is also a very talented songwriter. My particular favourites are “Liquid Spirit”, “Water Under Bridges”, “Hey Laura”, “Free” and “Wolfcry”. The pianist Chip Crawford is an incredible pianist and his playing reminded me at times of Mike Garson. In the extended intro to “Wolfcry” Chip slotted in a piece from ‘Peter And The Wolf’ and the ‘Star Wars Theme‘. Ithink my favourite song of the whole show was “1960 What?” from his first album ‘Water’

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Listening to Gregory and his band I was reminded of my days of being a soul boy and heavily into jazz funk in the late 70s. His vocals have a hint of Marvin Gaye about them and the overall sound of Mr Porter and his band was for me reminiscent of Roy Ayers, Norman Connors, the Blackbyrds and especially Gil Scott Heron. I will definitely see Gregory Porter again if the opportunity arises. On top of his immense talent he comes across as a very gracious and humble man. He clearly has great respect for his band; Chip Crawford (piano), Aaron James (double bass), Emanuel Harrold (drums) and Yosuke Sato (Sax). I think the feel-good-factor injected from this gig will stay with me for quite a while.

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As often happens I will end this post with a public service announcement. It is probably obvious, but none of the pictures or videos in this post were taken or filmed by me!

 

” The eagle picks my eye the worm he licks my bones” October 24, 2010


Hello once again regular readers and welcome to any new readers, I would love to hear from you via the comments function and also feel free to utilise the ‘rate’ option for each post.

A blue plaque not a blue meanie

A few more bits of music related news for you today. Firstly the house that John and Yoko lived in during 1968 finally gets an English Heritage blue plaque. The Marylebone property (basement and ground floor) was purchased by Ringo Starr in 1965 and before the Lennon’s moved in it was rented out to Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix. Read the story on the BBC.

Yoko thanked the builders for converting her former home into the leaning tower of Marylebone

To celebrate take a  listen to “Yer Blues” from the Beatles ‘White Album’

Nick Clegg steals food from children as his contribution to the governments spending cuts

Now for some rather disappointing news, well in my opinion anyway. Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat Leader and Tory Party muppet appeared on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs show this weekend and chose a book, a luxury item and 8 records (actually it’s 8 pieces of music. Why is that bad news? Well he’s only gone and chosen a David Bowie song hasn’t he. I just feel bad when people I don’t like happen to like people who I do like, does anyone else feel like that? The Bowie song he chose was “Life On Mars”, he also selected songs by Prince, Johnny Cash, Radiohead and Shakira. So begrudgingly I might have to credit him with some taste, I’d still never vote for him again though. Click here to read the report on the BBC. You can watch Mr Bowie performing the song below at the Yahoo Internet Life Music Awards in New York City in 2000, very ably supported by Mike Garson on piano.

Nick Clegg contemplates another luxury item to take to his desert island. Let's hope the cuts aren't too sharp eh Nick? Don't want any problems with inflation do we?

In another piece of Bowie related news Cheery Vanilla his one time squeeze from the 70’s has published her memoirs and the book is enticingly titled ‘Lick Me’, which is actually quite appropriate given her name. She is quoted as saying that if you’re given the chance to sleep with David Bowie you do it, even if you have giant carbuncles on your thighs. I’m not sure whether she did have those carbuncles though. Read about the book by clicking here.

Cherry Vanilla chooses a novel way of promoting her new book

A week or so back Take That revealed the cover to their new album, ‘Progress’. It is yet another take on the Ascent Of Man idea. The worrying thing about it for me is why Gary Barlow is looking up Mark Owen’s backside. Robbie is right in the middle and Jason Orange seems to have been given a real surprise. One which made him leap high. The Guardian analyses the picture here. What do you think of it?

It's a bit camp and a bit yellow isn't it?

Click here to read a list of 10 things that British Sea Power wished they hadn’t done from the drowned in sound website. My favourites are the fans dressed as 10 foot teddy bears and one of the band dressing as some kind of Geordie/ zebra hybrid to commemorate Kevin Keegan‘s appointment as Newcastle United manager.

The British Sea Power Teddy Bear was a bit grizzly that night!

 

 
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