How did my son and I wind up at the House of Blues, Boston (across from Fenway Park) to see David Bowie tribute band Holy Holy? (Named for some fairly obscure Bowie single.) Dumb luck. SiriusXM had a giveaway and I won a couple of tix.
Apart from a few songs like “Changes” and “Space Oddity”, my son wasn’t that familiar with Bowie’s material. But as a musician, he was impressed by how many artists The Thin White Duke had influenced. So when I offered him a ticket he felt he had to check this out. And despite that lack of familiarity with many of the tunes he totally dug it. (Quite honestly, I didn’t know all of the songs myself).
Firstly, this is no ordinary tribute band. Two of the members not only knew Bowie but worked with him. Drummer Mick “Woody” Woodmansey was one of the original Spiders from Mars and in fact, sadly, the only one still living.
And bassist Tony Visconti is a legendary musician/producer having produced or co-produced The Man Who Sold The World, Young Americans, Low, Heroes, Lodger, Scary Monsters and Bowie’s final album, Blackstar. Needless to say, these guys know Bowie’s stuff pretty intimately.
So how was the show? In a word, awesome. This is a crackerjack band that knows their way around the material. Glenn Gregory, a singer I confess I was not familiar with, did a great job. Very charismatic singer who said he was having a blast and it showed. (Although he did at one point forget he was in Boston and called us Chicago. That’s ok. We love the Second City.)
The floor in front of the stage is general admission/standing room and so, plenty of room to dance. (Boston HOB is the biggest one in the country). It felt much more like a party than a concert and it was clear the band was getting off on the energy (and the crowd’s singing).
The material? Well, the most recent song was “Watch That Man,” from Aladdin Sane. So attending this show felt pretty much what it must have been like to see Bowie in 1973. They played the 1970 album The Man Who Sold the World in its entirety and then did some tunes from Hunky Dory, Aladdin Sane and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. (Setlist at end of post.)
Here, from Ziggy Stardust is “Five Years.” (None of these videos are from this show. Didn’t have a good enough recorder. But they are a pretty good representation):
When Gregory announced “Life on Mars?” he said he had a hard time getting through it without crying. Near as I can tell, this wildly popular song is about a girl who’s alienated from her parents, tries to escape through movies, wonders if there’s a better life somewhere else in the universe. (Jimmy Fallon and Chris Martin kick this one on YouTube).
The encore was my fave Bowie rave and one of the best rock n’ roll songs of all time, “Suffragette City.” I think I came pretty close to getting run over by the couple excitedly pogoing next to me. (They had to be in their sixties, so, good energy). Not to mention the couple that hammered past me who, only a short while earlier, were kissing passionately outside the rest room):
Unless you believe that seeing a Bowie band without the man himself isn’t worth it, check these guys out. If you love Bowie, you’ll have a great (and possibly very emotional) time. Tour dates here (not sure when they’re headed back to UK):
Members: Woody Woodmansey, drums; Tony Visconti, bass; Glenn Gregory, vocals; James Stevenson, guitar; Paul Cuddeford, guitar; Berenice Scott, keyboards; and Terry Edwards, guitar and sax.
Jessica Morgan, Visconti’s daughter. doesn’t appear to be a regular member. She opened with a nice acoustic set, then sang backup and soloed on “Lady Stardust.”
The Man Who Sold the World album:
–The Width of a Circle
–All the Madmen
–Black Country Rock
–Running Gun Blues
–She Shook Me Cold
–The Man Who Sold the World
Medley: Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud/All the Young Dudes/Oh! You Pretty Things
Life on Mars?
Watch That Man
Rock n’ Roll Suicide