The Welly Club, Hull
For band and audience alike, this always promised to be a particularly significant stop on the current extensive nationwide tour of this extraordinary venture. The band in question, of course, features original Spider From Mars ‘Woody’ Woodmansey on drums, ‘the Brooklyn boy’ friend-of-David and absolute musical icon Tony Visconti on bass, and Heaven 17 stalwart Glenn Gregory with the best fan-boy job in the world, singing his way through the fantastic setlist to the manner born. The location, of course, signified a spiritual homecoming for Woody, back in the birthplace of fellow, much-missed Spiders Mick Ronson and Trevor Bolder. The emotional charge of listening to the music co-created by these absent friends was augmented further by the presence of Ronson’s daughter and niece (along with Visconti’s children) in the band, particularly when Lisa Ronson sang lead vocal on an affecting ‘Lady Stardust’.
The purpose of the tour, following last year’s initial handful of dates, is to perform ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ in its entirety, something which Bowie and the band were never able to do at the time. From the first feedback-drenched rumblings of ‘The Width Of A Circle’, it was clear that the band had the authentic complexities presented by the album pretty well nailed down; this was particularly true of the outstanding guitarist Paul Cuddeford, who channelled the spirit of Ronson to epic effect. Gregory was charismatic and commanding in his own right, without ever pretending or daring to ‘do a Bowie’. As a further highlight, fellow Bowie acolyte Marc Almond was on hand to perform ‘After All’ in a less vocally powerful, but delightfully theatrical fashion.
Following the TMWSTW, the band indulged us with a selection of Bowie classics from the Spiders era. By this time, the atmosphere was absolutely magical. To hear that intro to ‘Five Years’ from its very source was a thrill for the ages. Other highlights included a run-through of the ‘…Freecloud/All The Young Dudes/Oh You Pretty Things’ medley from the 1973 ‘Farewell’ concert, and truly epic, cathartic renditions of ‘Rock’n’Roll Suicide’ and ‘Life On Mars’. Marc returned for a giddy duet of ‘Watch That Man’, before they signed off with an exuberant ‘Suffragette City’.
Shamelessly nostalgic, perhaps, but there was never any doubt that this was the real deal, music played with pride, great care and passion by the people who helped to create it and have had their lives shaped by it.
People of a certain age; ageing space cadets, still in love with the Commander; proud citizens celebrating the memory and talent of a favourite son.
It made me think..
“Oh God I’m still alive, we should be on by now”