Legendary Bowie bandmates, producer/bass player Tony Visconti and drummer Woody Woodmansey, are performing together for the first time since 1971, bringing on stage a live version of The Man Who Sold The World. Fronting the band is Glenn Gregory of Heaven 17 and on saxophone and guitars is Spandau Ballet’s Steve Norman.
On 22 February 1970 David Bowie took to the stage with The Hype to perform what is widely accepted to be the first Glam Rock performance. The Hype represents a turning point in David Bowie’s career; a hugely significant step away from being a one-hit wonder – with 1969’s Space Oddity – to finding the formula for enduring success. The Hype, comprising John Cambridge on drums, Tony Visconti on bass and Mick Ronson on guitar was the progenitor of The Spiders from Mars; the band that made David Bowie and helped to define popular culture in the 1970s.
David Bowie’s seminal album The Man Who Sold the World, masterfully produced by Tony Visconti, was recorded in 1970 after The Hype’s performance at the Roundhouse, with the powerful drumming of Woody Woodmansey replacing John Cambridge.
The Man Who Sold the World is unusually sonically heavy and dystopian for a Bowie album; with lyrical themes including annihilation and a totalitarian machine. The sound combines riff-laden heavy rock with futurist synth sounds and Visconti’s innovative production techniques. The distinctive and robust guitar playing which contributed so much to the artistic success of this remarkable record was Mick Ronson, who sadly died in 1993. Mick’s daughter Lisa, his sister Maggi and niece Hannah will perform the album with Tony and Woody.
“One reason I’m looking forward to playing The Man Who Sold The World album in its entirety is because lots of people ask me if I still play bass. I do, but I’ve since rarely played anything as ambitious and demanding as the music of that great batch of songs conceived by David Bowie. With Woody Woodmansey and Mick Ronson, two of the finest musicians I’ve had the pleasure of recording and playing with, we set out to create something both new and classic, we called it our ‘Sgt. Pepper.’ David gave us a chance to bring our unique talents to the table and we made up our parts within David’s framework. Mick forced me to listen to Jack Bruce, however, and told me ‘that’s what great bass playing was all about’. I got it, lead bass playing, as a guitarist this came natural to me. With David as our charismatic frontman we were ‘Young Turks’ determined to spin heads and change the world of music. Well, we sold about 20 copies instead. But over the years members of the public finally got it and eventually the album sold a million or two. A great homage to us was to hear Nirvana perform the title track unplugged in the 90s on an MTV special, note for note. I’m sure Bowie picked up some new fans afterwards although a lot of people still believe that Kurt Cobain wrote it.
“As for Glasgow, I’ve only been there once before – in one room with David, Mick, Woody and Roger the Roadie, and we spent the cold winter’s night sleeping fully dressed with our coats and boots on. The three bar electric heater did f*** all! It would be nice to see the city under more pleasant circumstances”, says Visconti, who has produced most of Bowie’s albums since 1969, including his latest 2013 surprise release The Next Day.
Few days after the announcement of the their already-sold-out London date at The Garage on September 17th, due to popular demand, more dates have been added. Ticket info:
Sheffield O2 Academy2 Thursday 18th September £18.00 adv
*Glasgow O2 ABC Saturday 20th September £20.00 adv
*London O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire Monday 22nd September £25.00 adv