If David Bowie was to tour again, I’m pret­ty sure he would­n’t play The Man Who Sold the World even though he rein­tro­duced that title track on lat­er tours. There would be a choice of tracks from The Next Day (of which I’m a huge fan), one or two nods to the past… and the rest would be the next, much await­ed album. Nev­er­the­less until that hap­pens, Bowie fans have to either car­ry on play­ing his music alone in their bed­rooms, or ven­ture out to sate Spi­der lust in oth­er ways.

There are trib­ute bands who attract huge crowds (Put­ney’s Half Moon is always a sell­out), but now one can see a real Spi­der, as tonight it’s the last of four Bowie get-togeth­ers for The Man Who Sold the World. Bowie’s drum­mer Woody Wood­mansey has teamed up with producer/performer Tony Vis­con­ti and a huge assort­ment of friends and fam­i­ly, going under the col­lec­tive ban­ner of Holy Holy. Tak­ing Bowie’s place is Heav­en 17s Glen Gre­go­ry, who cer­tain­ly has the pow­er­ful vocals and enough stage pres­ence to do The Man Who Sold the World jus­tice. He’s joined by oth­er 80s mates includ­ing Gary Kemp and Steve Norman.

The first few songs belong to Glen, until – and this was one of the most touch­ing moments of the evening – Marc Almond came out on stage to sing After All  – it’s a song which has a strange, Dick­en­sian feel, and in ret­ro­spect suit­ed Marc rather than Glen. Huge waves of affec­tion reached out to him from the crowd.

The Man Who Sold the World is a short album, so as it drew to a close we did won­der what was com­ing next –  were we going to be turfed out ear­ly into the west Lon­don night? Indeed no, what fol­lowed was anoth­er hour or so of some Bowie greats, com­plete with guest per­form­ers. Of these, Watch that Man fizzed with pow­er, and saw Marc Almond back on stage to accom­pa­ny Glen on vocals. Holy Holy in action Shepherds Bush 2014

A stand­out track for me was Lady Star­dust, sung by Lisa Ron­son, who up till this point had been part of the back­ground as one of the three female back­ing singers. Towards the end, Woody struck the drums for the open­ing notes of Five Years. It sound­ed pure and thrilling. Here was an unadul­ter­at­ed moment in time, those notes, etched on our mem­o­ries, com­ing at us down the wire from so many years ago.

lisa ronson

The evening was clear­ly an emo­tion­al and euphor­ic expe­ri­ence for the per­form­ers, espe­cial­ly with sup­port act Tony Vis­con­ti’s son Mor­gan Vis­con­ti rejoin­ing the band on stage at the end, mak­ing it a real fam­i­ly affair. Glen and Tony com­mu­ni­cat­ed with us at length, relat­ing the sto­ry of how the event had come together.

It felt like a very unique moment  and the audi­ence – many of whom who looked as if they remem­bered Bowie from his ear­ly days. I first saw Bowie in Han­ley, Staffs, in 1973: my friend and I were right at the front, and I’ll nev­er for­get David look­ing down and smil­ing at us. But as the Bowie hits were rolled out at this fun con­cert, I found myself long­ing to see ‘the real David Bowie’ again, giv­ing the audi­ence what will be, no doubt, cre­ative, chal­leng­ing and provoca­tive mate­r­i­al again.

Holy Holy finale Shepherd Bush 2014


WHO: Holy Holy Bowie
WHEN: Sep­tem­ber 22, 2014
WHERE: 02 Shep­herd’s Bush Empire

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