With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

Absolute Bowie – Fibbers, York Friday 13th January 2017 January 15, 2017


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I have often seen myself as a bit of a Bowie purist, particularly as I saw the Dame himself ten times from 1976 to 2004. I have also never been a big fan of tribute acts. However I had heard some very good things about Absolute Bowie. But I do believe that this might have been perhaps one of the first gigs I had ever been to where I set out to not really enjoy myself. However I had a little word with myself about not being such a miserable git and to get on and enjoy the show and indeed that is what I did!

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The first set focused on the Ziggy period, John O’Neill is a very convincing Bowie in both vocals and mannerisms. How much more authentic can you get than a 12 string guitar on a marvellous set opener “Space Oddity“. Those early songs were all nailed down perfectly, my particular favourites were “The Man Who Sold The World“, “Moonage Daydream“, “All The Young Dudes” and “Starman”. The band is clearly a very talented bunch, Chris Buratti is a stunning Mick Ronson with supreme guitar skills. There was even time for the obligatory Bowie of old costume change from the glittery jumpsuit into what was a very good approximation of one of Bowie’s Japanese outfits. The audience was in full vocal flow throughout the evening and Fibbers was rocking to the rafters. Close your eyes and you could imagine that you were at Friars in Aylesbury in 1972 or the Hammersmith Odeon in 1973. By now all my doubts had disappeared and I was looking forward to the second set with relish.

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I had wondered which Bowie era would be next on the agenda. I felt that it might jump straight to Serious Moonlight (more of that later!) but we were treated to classic Thin White Duke. The set opened with stupendous and rumbling work out of “Station To Station”. So great that it wasn’t just the all the usual hit singles, although there were plenty of those too. My favourite track from the second set was easily “Stay” which in my opinion never gets played enough. That said though “Fashion”, “Ashes To Ashes” and “China Girl” were all brilliant. “China Girl” is not even one of my favourite Bowie songs! We were even treated to another costume change during the second set, this time from Thin White Duke to the Serious Moonlight Bowie from 1983. Strangely I felt O’Neill looked more like Bowie in the Serious Moonlight segment, which is pretty special given the lack of make-up compared to his take on Ziggy. “Rebel Rebel” was a massive encore moment and the crowd went totally wild at this point.

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If like me before this you consider yourself a bit of a Bowie purist (actually maybe snob would be better) just lose that attitude and lose yourself in the Absolute Bowie experience. I will definitely go and see Europe’s finest Bowie tribute act again. You will never see the real thing again, but this is as close as you’ll get without it being the real thing to paraphrase Woody Woodmansey.

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Public Service Announcement: Obviously none of these excellent photographs or videos were taken or filmed by me, just so you know!

 

“Oh man! Wonder if he’ll ever know he’s in the best selling show” David Bowie Is at the Victoria & Albert Museum 2013 May 5, 2013


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I am sure that by now you are all aware of the ‘David Bowie Is’ exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in Kensington, London. It began on 23rd March this year and runs until 11th August. It is also the fastest selling and best selling exhibition the museum has ever done. It includes many Bowie artefacts and costumes from his archive; many of which have never been shown to the public before. I booked my tickets ages ago and finally made it here on 5th May. ( I was joined by Catwoman and my good friends the Horslens)

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There are handwritten lyrics from throughout his career and stage designs for most of his major tours from the Diamond Dogs US tour in 1974 to the Outside Tour of 1995 via 1983’s Serious Moonlight. The costumes range from those worn in all the aforementioned tours along with all the classic Ziggy outfits; including the classic one worn on that famous Top of the Pops performance of “Starman” from way back in July 1972.

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The whole thing is incredibly arranged, directed and curated. The interactive audio headphones which trigger when you are near a particular exhibit are brilliant. I feel sure that Bowie has played a big part in the whole thing. There are some video shots and audio that have never legally seen the light of day before. I particularly loved the version of “Sweet Thing” from the 1974 US tour. There was also an excellent mock-up 3D stage set design for those shows. Those were possibly my two favourite things from the day.

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Bowie has always been an artist and not just a rock star and this is clearly shown by the volume of his own paintings and sketches on display. Including a series of storyboard pictures for a ‘Diamond Dogs’ film that never got made. There were also some detailed notes showing that he had definitely intended for 1995’s ‘1: Outside’ album to be the first in a trilogy that would have ended in 1999. I wonder if he’ll ever make those other two? Sadly I think not.

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His set of oblique strategy cards used in the studio by Brian Eno are there along with the synthesiser used on the Berlin albums. Another room is dedicated to showing clips from his best known films including; ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth‘, ‘Labyrinth’, ‘The Prestige’, ‘Basquiat’, ‘Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence‘ and ‘Absolute Beginners‘. There is also a rare public outing for a clip from his 1967 black and white short ‘The Image’ (as a bit of a Bowie anorak I already have this on DVD).. Costumes and props from some of these films are also on show.

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The Bowie items in the shop are quite tasteful too, in the main anyway! I had previously bought the David Bowie Is hardback book and today I bought the Ziggyology book along with the set of postcards that relate to the exhibition. Obviously I needed more stuff to continue the pimping of my man bag so I bought a pin badge emblazoned with the phrase ‘David Bowie Is turning us all into voyeurs’.

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I was excited before the exhibition and that was well justified excitement in my opinion. It exceeded my very high expectations by a very long way. If you have been or are planning to go I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you are unable to attend then you have missed something really special. Now let me sign off with a few Bowie classics.

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“For here am I sitting in a tin can” September 13, 2012


I still have heroes, do you? You might have guessed that David Bowie is one of mine and so is Neil Armstrong. Both men were in the news for very different reasons recently. Firstly there was the sad death of Neil Armstrong a true pioneer. Secondly the supposedly retired Mr Bowie has opened his archives to the Victoria & Albert museum in London for a massive exhibition of costumes, set designs, lyrics and many other delights next year. Click here to read the Bowie story.

I know I am a bit late posting about Neil Armstrong but a public memorial service has just been held to honour him in Washington. Click here to read about it on the BBC website. He is a man who I am sure will be remembered in thousands of years as the first human ever to walk on a body that wasn’t earth. Coincidentally he served as a pilot in the US Air Force in Korea in the early 1950s. Which was exactly the same time another of my heroes, my Dad saw active service there in the Royal Navy on board the HMS Belfast. Neil Armstrong RIP.

For this post I thought I’d choose a few space related Bowie songs and one that was produced by him for Lou Reed.

 

“Yet there’s still this appeal that we’ve kept through our lives” June 24, 2012


Many of you will already know that the NME celebrates its 60th birthday this year. It was first published in March of 1952, it was later that year that it also published the first ever UK singles chart based on sales. That was in November 1952 and featured Al Martino‘s “Here In My Heart” at number one.

As part of their birthday celebrations the NME has published a list of the top 100 songs since the paper has been around. I’m sure that there will be plenty of debate about what is in and what isn’t in the list. I was particularly surprised that there are no songs from the 50’s included. How about Elvis Presley’sHeartbreak Hotel” that was pretty damned ground breaking. Incidentally the spread of songs from the other periods are;

60s = 22

70s = 16

80s = 19

90s = 19

00s/ 10s = 24

Why not cast your vote in my favourite decade poll below 🙂

My favourite song of all time; Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry” reaches number 86 and Mr Bowie has “Space Oddity” at number 39 and another song in the top 5 (more of that one later). The Beatles have three entries in the top 100. Thankfully Westlife, Cheryl Cole and their ilk are nowhere to be seen in this list.

So without further ado and in traditional reverse order here is the top 5;

5 “Blue Monday” – New Order

4 “Good Vibrations” – Beach Boys

3 “”Heroes”” – David Bowie

2 “Common People” – Pulp

1 “Love Will Tear Us Apart” – Joy Division

If you’re interested click here to find the top 50 (I haven’t been able to find a site that shows the whole 100)

 

“They take some brain away, then turn my face around” January 8, 2011


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OK perhaps a tad late, but it is still just about 8th January where I am. Anyway I would like you all to join me in a quick chorus of Happy Birthday for David Robert Jones, better known as David Bowie to most of you and possibly even the Dame to longstanding NME readers. I became a Bowie fan in September 1972 after that now legendary performance of “Starman” on Top Of The Pops. Many, many people had their Bowie epiphany from this performance, understandably too, it was otherworldly and alien. Even now it is quite a striking performance, especially subtle touches, like Bowie draping his arm around Mick Ronson‘s shoulders. It might all seem quite innocuous and tame nowadays, but in 1972 it was so very far out there.

That performance was shown on a Thursday night and two days later I raided my piggy bank and purchased four Bowie albums on cassette; “Space Oddity”, “The Man Who Sold The World“, “Hunky Dory” and “The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars“. After about 18 months I had worn them all out! I first saw Bowie in 1976 and have now seen him 8 times in total, although if the rumours are to be believed we may never see him in concert again. However if you’re reading this David, can we at least have another album or two?

I have another piece of very slightly related Bowie news. My good friend Nick Horslen appeared on BBC Radio Berkshire earlier this week to do an interview about his life as a business coach, small business supporter, charity volunteer and many other things. He chose a few songs to play during his slot, notably Mr Bowie’s “Heroes” alongside “Harvest For The World” from the Isley Brothers and “We Can Work It Out” by the Beatles. He interviewed really well and I would also like to thank him for the excellent shout he gave this very blog. You can still hear the interview on the BBC iPlayer for a few days at least. Click here for the link and wind it forward to around 2 hours and 4 minutes and you’ll be able to listen to Nick’s interview on BBC Radio Berkshire’s Phil Gayle Show.

Now take some time out to enjoy a couple of Bowie classics and a couple that don’t get played much. Happy 64th birthday Mr Jones!

 

 
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