Let’s be honest: Even if the White Duke came back on stage, what would be the odds of hearing him playing live Moonage Daydream or Ziggy Stardust or Time? The dame has a 50-year old career spanning from everything that stays between glam rock and pop, with hundreds of great tunes to choose from, which basically means that he would necessarily have to leave out some of his early works. This makes me even more thankful to Bowie’s producer bassist Tony Visconti, drummer Mick ‘Woody’ Woodmansey (an original member of Ziggy’s Spiders From Mars), Heaven 17’s Glenn Gregory, Steve Norman with Holy Holy for bringing back on the road the magic of Ziggy’s great music.
From the speakers, Carlos’ version of Beethoven’s Ode To The Joy as heard in Kubrick‘s legendary A Clockwork Orange film spawned a triumphant atmosphere, so when the whole bunch of musicians (I’ve seen more people on stage only at Arcade Fire’s gigs) walked on stage at the O2 Empire, everyone in the audience was warmed up and ready for a night of hard-glam-rock.
The band went through the whole The Man Who Sold The World album plus jewels from Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane, proving the choice of Glenn Gregory as the vocalist turned out brilliant: Gregory, who shares a similar timbre with Bowie’s early vocal tone, breathed new life into the songs in a way that sounded as the originals were meant to, still without trying to imitate Bowie, all with perfect pitch.
Visconti and Woodmansey, evidently being still the core of the ensemble, brought back to life the British legend’s early hits in a vigorous, heavy banging style. Far from being anything close to what today might be described as “radio friendly”, with its raw, heavy sounds and distorted guitar riffs, the show unravelled into an unmissable two-hour night with Bowie’s band legends (including Mick Ronson‘s daughters as backing vocals) who were occasionally joined on stage by Marc Almond and Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp.
For those who, like me, never had a chance to see live Bowie and/or Ziggy, being given the occasion to hear and see live Five Years, Life On Mars, The Man Who Sold The World or Starman definitely made this a night to remember… In the wishful thinking of seeing the man himself walking back on stage, sooner or later.
Complete Set List:
The Width of a Circle
All the Madmen
Black Country Rock
After All (Marc Almond on vocals)
Running Gun Blues
She Shook Me Cold
The Man Who Sold the World
Life On Mars
Hang On To Yourself
Watch That Man (Marc Almond and Glen Gregory on vocals)
Lady Stardust (Lisa Ronson on vocals)
We Are King (Steve Norman on vocals)
Starman (Steve Norman on vocals)
White Light/White Heat (Lou Reed cover)