With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

Holy Holy – Barbican, York – Friday 8th February 2019 February 10, 2019


I had wanted to see Holy Holy for a long while but I have never been in the same place at the same time. But this time I made it! For those of you who are unaware Holy Holy is a band with the backbone of two David Bowie stalwarts; Mick ‘Woody’ Woodmansey a former Spider From Mars and Tony Visconti who produced many of the Dame’s albums and contributed bass on ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ The vocalist is Glenn Gregory off of Heaven 17. Are they a Bowie tribute act? Not in the wonderfully theatrical sense that Absolute Bowie are I see Holy Holy more as a band that is keeping the legacy alive through people who were there and were a part of the whole Bowie phenomenon. But more of Holy Holy in a bit, there is the support act to consider first and this was a solo acoustic set by none other than John Bramwell off of I Am Kloot. This was apparently his first support gig in sixteen years since I Am Kloot supported Turin Brakes. His between song chat was hilarious, John is a true raconteur who speaks eloquently and intelligently. That eloquence and intelligence is a strong part of his lyrics too. This was the first night of the tour and John regaled us with the fact that he had forgotten his guitar stands and that he had left his merch in the car. He also explained why he always talks to the audience while tuning his guitar, at a gig some years ago while tuning he overheard a comment from the audience where someone said “I don’t like this new one!” Bramwell is a very talented singer songwriter who knows his audience and wins people over with wit and very classy songs. I reckon he had quite a few new fans after tonight.

In the past I was never a great fan of bands playing a whole album from start to finish at a gig, but I have grown to love it over the years. Tonight was a fabulous night with not just one Bowie album played in its entirety but two. First came ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ followed by ‘The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars’. It takes a good band to do these two LPs justice and this is a great band. Along with Woodmansey on drums, Visconti on bass and Gregory on vocals there are two guitarists; James Stevenson and Paul Cuddeford. Berenice Scott on keyboards and the multi instrumental Jessica Lee Morgan on acoustic guitar, saxophone, percussion and vocals. Glenn Gregory as the singer in this band is an inspired choice, he doesn’t try to be Bowie but he handles all the songs powerfully and tastefully. He certainly knows his rock god shapes and poses too. Hearing these two albums again in this environment made me think how fresh, new and different they must have sounded to fans back in 1970 and 1972 respectively. The explosive power and sheer bombast of set opener “Width Of A Circle” should have given Sabbath and Led Zep a run for their money but ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ album never really took off until after Ziggy Stardust exploded into being. The band really showed their full on hard rock credentials during this epic track and it set the scene for a great night. As a part of this blogs recent 10th birthday celebrations I posted my top ten Bowie songs, I did say that it changes regularly and after this Holy Holy gig I really need to find a space for the magnificent “All The Madmen”. When I first bought the album on cassette back in 1972 that was always my favourite song. Tonight all those teenage memories were brought to the fore again with an immaculate run through of this classic treatise on insanity where the only sane people are those in the asylums. Glenn Gregory and the band were firing on all cylinders for the first album of the evening and the crowd were singing along with most songs. Especially the title track and the “oh by jingo” refrain from “After All”. Obviously the first part of the show ended with “The Superman” on which Gregory’s vocals reached a new peak.

Now it was time for what many see as their favourite Bowie album, “The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars” to give it its full title. Incidentally my favourite Bowie album is ‘Diamond Dogs’. Woody Woodmansey’s understated drum sound on “Five Years” still sends shivers down my spine coupled with lyrics of hopelessness in a world that is dying. I don’t believe that Glenn Gregory quite captured the sheer emotion in Bowie’s delivery on the record but he still did a great job. “Moonage Daydream” was probably the point where many of the crowd left their seats to dance, that song blew the house down and I reckon Mick Ronson would have been more than satisfied with the guitar skills on display. As expected no one stayed quiet for “Starman” especially the “la la la” part. Interestingly, and perhaps to give Glenn Gregory a well deserved break, Jessica Lee Morgan (who is Tony Visconti’s daughter) sang “Lady Stardust”, this woman is incredibly talented. Has there ever been an album with a better closing four tracks than this? “Hang On To Yourself”, “Ziggy Stardust”, “Suffragette City” and “Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide” tore the house down and put the roof into orbit. The only thing that could possibly have made that better would have been David Bowie actually being there. A spectacular band had just played two of Bowie’s finest albums, did they have anything left? Well yes they did, after a short break they were back for an encore. They kicked off their four song closing part with a wonderful surprise, not another hit from 1969 to 1973, but the beautiful and emotionally charged come back single from 2014, “Where Are We Now”. The band did not put a foot wrong and Glenn Gregory gave his finest vocal performance of the night, possibly not a dry eye in the house! This was followed by two classics from ‘Hunky Dory’, “Changes” and “Life On Mars”. The showed closed with the sing along sonic assault of “Rebel Rebel”. At the end Woody said a few words about being a part of this experience and being back in Yorkshire and then it was all over. It took me a while to come down from this high after getting home. I will definitely be seeing Holy Holy again!

Public Service Announcement: All photographs and videos were found on line. If any of them are yours and you would like a credit or for me to take them down please let me know.

 

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!

 

“He’d like to come and meet us, but he thinks he’d blow our mind” November 26, 2013


milkyHave you ever heard of Milky Edwards and the Chamberlings? No? Nor had I until recently. They (if indeed they are a they) come across as a classic ‘lost’ Motown band, perhaps in the mold of the Four Tops. From what I have discovered on-line Milky Edwards first appeared on YouTube last year with a video showing a record playing a cover version of some classic early 70s rock with the supposed album cover propped up behind. The album cover is very reminiscent of a 1960s Supremes album cover (see below).

Supremes-1968-reflectionsIt never really took off until the links were posted last month on David Bowie’s Facebook page. Why were they published on Bowie’s page? Well largely because the cover versions were all taken from the Ziggy Stardust album. The songs published so far are; “Starman”, “Moonage Daydream” and “Soul Love“. Mark Ronson and Tom Jones have denied any involvement in the recordings as have Bowie’s camp. But for me I would be very surprised if Bowie himself has played no part in this. I also believe that it is a wonderful hoax. There is even a website with the strap-line ‘rediscover the music of Milky Edwards, click here to see it. What do you think of all this? Have any of you got the inside track on these recordings? Personally I bloody love these tracks!

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“The wall-to-wall is calling, it lingers, then you forget” June 3, 2012


I couldn’t let the 40th anniversary of the release of Bowie‘s classic 1972 album ‘The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars‘ go unmentioned could I? It will be 40 years old on June 6th and of course being the Bowie fanatic that I am the vinyl reissue which comes with a DVD including some unreleased mixes is winging its way to me as I type. Bowie has said in the early 70s that the Ziggy album was a concept album, personally I don’t really see that, but that doesn’t make it any less of an album.

How many of you own at least one version of Bowie’s Ziggy album? lots of you I hope and if you don’t own it what’s keeping you, go out and buy it, download it, borrow it or steal it now! The album took just no more than 10 days to record, which by todays standards is faster than the speed of sound and light, or perhaps sound and vision, (get it?) combined.

So, as I’m sure you have heard the album many times I thought I’d present it in a slightly different way, by giving you all the tracks in their original order but performed by different artists. Some whom you may have heard of and others you may not have. But just to make sure you don’t miss out on the Dame himself I have tagged on two cover versions that might have made it onto the album but didn’t. The covers track listing is shown below. PLAY LOUD and Enjoy!

“Five Years” – Polyphonic Spree

Soul Love” – Tim Kasher

Moonage Daydream” – Killers

“Starman” – Culture Club

“It Ain’t Easy” -Raconteurs

Lady Stardust” – Seu Jorge

“Star” – System Noise

“Hang On To Yourself” – Charles De Goal

“Ziggy Stardust” – Balzac

Suffragette City” – Turbonegro

Rock n Roll Suicide” – Black Box Recorder

Now it’s time for Dave does Chuck and Jacques or Bowie does Berry and Brel!

Bowie has a message for MC Hammer about big trousers……”U can’t touch these!”

 

“Jamming good with weird and gilly” February 27, 2012


According to a recent report in the UK tabloid the Daily Mail (so only a small chance it’s true) Ziggy Stardust is about to be honoured with a plaque in London. In the year that marks the 40th anniversary of the release of what many consider Bowie‘s finest moment it seems that the powers that be may be ready to give Ziggy a commemorative plaque.

Note that this would be very special as they are not awarded to living people. But it’s not a Bowie plaque it is most definitely to honour the Ziggy character. It will be placed in Heddon Street where the cover pictures for ‘The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars‘ album were shot.

Can you think of any other fictitious characters from the rock world that should be honoured in the same way? The Kinks ‘Terry and Julie’ on Waterloo Bridge perhaps?

 

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


Bowie was an early adopter of the guitar string floss method

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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