Legendary David Bowie bandmates, producer/bass player Tony Visconti and drummer Woody Woodmansey, are performing together for the first time since 1971. 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.
Tony Visconti on bass, and Woody Woodmansey on drums, will be joined by Woody’s stellar supergroup Holy Holy, at this gig, including:
Glenn Gregory (Heaven 17), vocals
Steve Norman (Spandau Ballet), sax, guitar, percussion and vocals
Erdal Kizilcay (David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Freddie Mercury), keyboards and vocals
James Stevenson (The Cult, Generation X, Scott Walker, Gene Loves Jezebel), guitar
Paul Cuddeford (Ian Hunter, Bob Geldof), guitar
Rod Melvin (Ian Dury, Brian Eno), piano
Malcolm Doherty, 12 string guitar and vocals
Hannah Berridge Ronson, backing vocals and keyboards
Lisa Ronson, backing vocals
Maggi Ronson, backing vocals
Tony Visconti says:
“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”.
Woody Woodmansey says:
“I’m genuinely excited about these gigs.
The first set we’ll be playing is the whole of ‘The Man Who Sold The World’, which has never happened before, though we did do a couple of songs from the album during the Ziggy period. To perform that album with Tony Visconti who played bass on the album and also produced it will be amazing! It’s been a long time since we grooved together!
For me it was the forerunner to the Ziggy and Aladdin Sane albums. I always thought the band ‘kicked like a mule’.
It’s also an honour to have such an array of world class musicians in the band, Steve Norman, Erdal Kizilcay, Glenn Gregory, James Stevenson, Paul Cuddeford, Rod Melvin and Malcolm Doherty, plus adding even more significance to the night will be Lisa and Maggi Ronson, and Hannah Berridge Ronson, on backing vocals. See you there…”
Steve Norman says:
“Being a childhood fan of Bowie and The Spiders From Mars, I know that Woody Woodmansey and Tony Visconti reuniting for the first time in over 40 years is something very special but I never imagined it would become such a hot ticket. It seems only fitting that they perform together at such an iconic venue as O2 Shepherds Bush Empire.”
Holy Holy will release their debut single, ‘We Are King’, written by Steve Norman, on 17th September.
Twitter: @holyholybowie Facebook: www.facebook.com/holyholybowie
Glasgow O2 ABC Saturday 20th September £20.00 adv