With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

“You’ll take me aside, and say ‘Well, David, what shall I do?'” – David Bowie Is Happening Now – Cinema Event 13th August 2013 August 13, 2013


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Back in May it was my pleasure to visit the marvellous ‘David Bowie Is’ exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Click here to see my post about the museum visit. Well that exhibition is now ready to go on tour and the exhibits will soon be on display in Toronto, Canada. The show at the V & A closed on Sunday 11th August, but as a special send off there has been a nationwide cinema event live from the museum as a kind of epilogue before it moves abroad.

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It was presented by the two curators Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh. Other guest presenters included author Hanif Kureishi who went to the same school as Bowie and wrote the Buddha Of Suburbia for which David wrote the soundtrack. Japanese fashion designer who provided many of Bowie’s more outlandish Ziggy garbs and choreographer Michael Clark also presented. The amusing and intelligent persona that is Jarvis Cocker had a chance to say his piece. There were many others too, but sadly no appearance from the main man himself.

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But a look behind the scenes and some wonderful background explanations from the curators made up for that to a small degree. It was a well put together and well-informed send off for such a major exhibition which was seen by more than 300,000 people and up to 20,000 in cinemas across the UK this evening. Like many people I was glued to the TV watching Top Of The Pops on July 6th 1972 when Bowie and the Spiders made that now seminal appearance to perform “Starman”. I was transfixed then and have been hooked ever since. If you plan to see this exhibition on its tour I would love to hear from you and I am sure it will blow you away!

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“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.

 

 
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