Category Archives: Pop music

This week: Culture Club’s first live show in 15 years

Culture Club, Mikey Craig ,pop music,Boy George,  Jon Moss ,Roy Hay,comeback,Edinburgh Castle, BBC1, TV

Old faces, new photo: Culture Club’s Mikey Craig, Boy George, Jon Moss and Roy Hay stage their comeback at Edinburgh Castle on Saturday

❚ NOBODY HAS YET SAID whether we can expect to hear a track from Culture Club’s new album at this Saturday’s live concert on BBC1. The newly reformed 80s supergroup kick off their comeback among a dozen acts giving a spectacular two-hour concert, Live at Edinburgh Castle, before 8,000 people ahead of the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

The One Show’s Alex Jones will present a line-up of international acts, including Jessie J, Kaiser Chiefs, Culture Club, Smokey Robinson, Rizzle Kicks, Paloma Faith, Katherine Jenkins, Il Divo, One Republic, Alfie Boe, Ella Henderson, Pumeza and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra – plus comedy from Bill Bailey.

This will be the first time the original members of Culture Club have performed together in 15 years. They are Boy George (lead vocals), Mikey Craig (bass guitar), Roy Hay (guitar and keyboards) and Jon Moss (drums and percussion). Time for three numbers is allotted, but not a dickybird yet has leaked out about what the band will play. The past couple of months have been spent in the studio rehearsing new tunes for their 11-date tour with Alison Moyet in December.

➢ Live at Edinburgh Castle starts at 8.30pm Saturday
on BBC1

➢ Buy tickets for Live at Edinburgh Castle, starting
at 7pm Saturday

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: The Culture Club comeback begins

➢ Tickets are still available for Culture Club’s UK tour, December 1–15

FRONT PAGE

➤ The non-Bowie tribute super-duper group Holy Holy to stage The Man Who Sold The World

Tony Visconti, Woody Woodmansey , Holy Holy, The Man Who Sold The World,David Bowie,album, live concert,UK, pop music

TMWSTW: Bowie’s ambitious album to be updated in live performance by Tony Visconti and Woody Woodmansey’s band Holy Holy

➢ David Bowie’s website announces:
Tony Visconti and Woody Woodmansey perform David Bowie’s classic The Man Who Sold the World album with supergroup Holy Holy. Keep reading for further details of this and Holy Holy’s debut 45 with a Bowie cover on the B-side, not to mention a few words from a clearly excited Tony and Woody regarding the event. [Today’s update: After the Sept 17 London gig, a second performance is announced for Sheffield, Sept 18.]

David Bowie’s seminal album The Man Who Sold the World, produced by Tony Visconti, was recorded in 1970. It 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.

Tony Visconti says: “I’ve 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… / Continued at davidbowie.com

Holy Holy, The Man Who Sold The World,David Bowie,album, live concert,UK, pop music,Malcolm Doherty, Steve Norman,

Holy Holy at Peckham Liberal Club last December: Malcolm Doherty on guitar and Steve Norman on sax. Photograph © Marilyn Kingwill

➢ A few tickets remain for Holy Holy’s TMWSTW on Sept 17 at The Garage, London
➢ Buy tickets for Holy Holy’s second performance on Sept 18 at the O2 Academy, Sheffield
➢ Update 5 June: more dates added, for Glasgow and Shepherd’s Bush Empire, plus a live discussion about the Bowie album at the ICA

Tony Visconti on bass, and Woody Woodmansey on drums, will be joined by this stellar Holy Holy line-up:
Glenn Gregory (Heaven 17), lead vocals
Steve Norman (Spandau Ballet), sax, guitar, percussion and vocals
Erdal Kizilcay (David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Freddie Mercury), keyboards and vocals
James Stevenson (Generation X, Scott Walker, Gene Loves Jezebel), guitar
Paul Cuddeford (Ian Hunter, Bob Geldof), guitar
Rod Melvin (Ian Dury, Brian Eno), piano
Malcolm Doherty (Rumer), 12-string guitar and vocals
Lisa Ronson (A Secret History), vocals
Maggi Ronson backing vocals and recorder
Hannah Berridge Ronson backing vocals, recorder and keyboards

➢ Bowie collaborators Woody Woodmansey and Tony Visconti will lead a 12-strong ensemble, says The Guardian:
Woodmansey said the time was right to revive the album that first brought him, Visconti and Bowie together, and that it would be a fitting tribute to Mick Ronson, the guitarist and musical genius behind Bowie’s most successful run of albums, who died in 1993. The Man Who Sold the World was the first album Mick Ronson and I played on, our first even in a proper London studio, yet it never got played live,” Woodmansey said. “It was the forerunner of what we could do sound-wise, and we just let rip. We spent three weeks recording [it] because we were creating the songs as we went… / Continued at Guardian Online

David Bowie, Mick Ronson, 1971,

The day they signed the deal for Hunky Dory in 1971… In a band called Hype, Bowie, Visconti and Ronson (right) created a sound that led to The Man Who Sold the World. And that meant the future was hunky-dory

➢ At Facebook Spandau Ballet’s Steve Norman confirms: “And if that’s not enough, there’s a brand new track scheduled for release on the day of the gig, We Are King. I can’t wait!” A little bird says Steve himself wrote it as the Holy Holy debut single, backed with their cover version of Bowie’s Holy Holy.

❑ Not forgetting possibly the definitive performance of the title track The Man Who, with Klaus Nomi. This thrillingly exact video is (for rights reasons) available to view only in the V&A’s touring exhibition, Bowie Is, which is currently at Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany, until August 10, later visiting Chicago and next year Paris.

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: Bowie drags up in the Mr Fish “man-dress” that appears on the sleeve for The Man Who Sold The World

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: How Bowie defined the difference between glam and glitter

FRONT PAGE

➤ 40 years on from Abba, Austria fields a bearded drag artist for Eurovision

Tom Neuwirth, Conchita Wurst, Eurovision , sexuality, drag

Conchita aka Tom: a bearded lady in the Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen

❚ THE PRIVATE PERSON TOM NEUWIRTH was born in Austria in 1988 and the art personality Conchita Wurst in 2011, the same year Tom graduated from the Graz School of Fashion. In last night’s second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest, the bearded drag performer Conchita won her place to represent Austria in Saturday’s final by singing what could pass gloriously as a Bond theme, Rise Like a Phoenix.

The homophobic backlash could have been predicted from conservative nations such as Ukraine, Belarus and Russia where petitions have urged her removal from the competition. Russian politician Vitaly Milonov called her a “pervert” adding: “It is not normal but a person cannot be punished in Russia for being homosexual, or to live with a dog, with a horse, with a sheep, whatever.”

Ms Wurst answered her critics: “I can only say ‘Thank you for your attention’. If this is only about me and my person, I can live with it. I’m just a singer in a fabulous dress, with great hair and a beard.

“I created this bearded lady to show the world that you can do whatever you want,” she said at a press conference in Copenhagen. Although the German word Wurst routinely means “sausage”, its idiomatic meaning is “irrelevant” so signalling that Conchita’s sexuality is a non-issue. She makes a statement for tolerance and acceptance while 25-year-old Tom’s motto is: “Be the best version of yourself rather than a bad copy of someone else.”

➢ Conchita interviewed by Brendan O’Connor on the Irish Saturday Night Show

➢ Live video meet and greet with Conchita Wurst in Copenhagen: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars. That’s the way I live”

➢ Ich will einen Grammy” – Conchita wird von deutschem Fernsehen auf dem roten Stuhl interviewt: “Ich bin in Kolumbien geboren, am Bogota. Ich wurde genannt meine Grossmutter, Conchita. Und Wurst, bei mein Vater natürlich Alfred Knack von Wurst”

BEFORE: TOM NEUWIRTH …

… AFTER: CONCHITA WURST

HOT UPDATE MAY 10 – CONCHITA WINS!!!

Tom Neuwirth, Conchita Wurst, Eurovision , sexuality

Conchita Wurst victorious: she was second favourite to win going into the contest (PA)

➢ BBC News reports: Austrian drag act Conchita Wurst has been crowned the winner of the 59th Eurovision Song Contest: “The singer, whose real name is Tom Neuwirth, won with the song Rise Like a Phoenix, collecting 290 points. The Netherlands finished second with 238 points, with Sweden in third place with 218 points. Wurst had been the second favourite to win behind Sweden going in to the competition, with many predicting the act could be too divisive among voters. However she was the clear winner, with her victory announced after 34 of the 37 countries had submitted their scores.”

FRONT PAGE

➤ Fab Abba, a far cry from the days of Ward-ahloo

❚ ON THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY of Abba winning the Eurovision song contest with their Waterloo wall of sound and their self-selected kitsch costumes from the age before stylists had been invented we celebrate how this deeply uncool Swedish group turned into a much-loved cult. From the vaults we’ve dug out The Sunday Times’s assessment of Abba published in its encyclopedic Abba-to-Zappa partwork 1000 Makers of Music in 1997 – the decade of Britpop in which they were suddenly rehabilitated by music’s opinion formers.

FROM 1000 MAKERS OF MUSIC, 1997

Abba, pop music, Eurovision

1000 Makers of Music: Abba assessed by The Sunday Times

Abba
Swedish, 1973-82, vocal group
As cheesy now as when they won the Eurovision song contest singing Waterloo, Abba embody a perennial contradiction: you may make the quintessential pop music of the decade but you must remain for ever a bad joke if that era proves as tasteless as the 1970s. Abba’s lovingly coupled foursome – the acme of glitz in their satins and flares – were derided because Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, as journeymen songsmiths, wrote singalong melodies epitomising Europe’s dreaded folkloric tradition. Worse, their sentimental lyrics about love and money – in English – nauseated purists who preferred Anglo-American guitar heroes who mouthed youthful dissent.

Yet Abba scored eight consecutive No 1 albums in Britain and 25 Top 40 singles so catchy that everybody can hum one. In 1992 Abba’s hits were revived ironically by Erasure and ingenuously by a tribute band called Björn Again. Today Abba enjoy cult status in Britain as new generations, numbed by the joylessness of techno, recycle yesteryear’s kitsch to discover ecstasy in pure pop.

Keywork: Knowing Me, Knowing You (1977)

FRONT PAGE

➤ Another emotional gem on Spandau’s long walk to freedom

Soul Boys of the Western World, interview, Spandau Ballet, SXSW, Austin, premiere, movie, pop music,

Spandau Ballet’s post-gig interview at SXSW in Texas: Steve Norman finds the humour in St John Keeble’s healing homilies

❚ NOT TO BE MISSED! Freshly posted at YouTube is yet another heart-on-sleeve prequel to Spandau Ballet’s promised Reconciliation and Redemption tour. A group interview on video unexpectedly becomes a very moving and positive expression of the band’s solidarity as friends. Famously “sticky moments” from the kamikaze wrecking of the band at the height of its success and the atomic fall-out during the 90s are glancingly referred to in the spirit of mild self-flagellation. The five musicians who defined Britain’s New Romantic movement are discussing Soul Boys of the Western World, their warts-and-all documentary biopic premiered last month at SXSW, the cool new-media festival at Austin in Texas.

“The film is pretty honest and hard for us to watch at times,” says songwriter Gary Kemp. “You can see in the film I was a bit precious.”

“That Kray twin moment [a reference to the Kemps making a feature film about the Krays in 1990]: for me that’s really embarrassing cos me and Gary’s answer is really conceited, but that’s who we were at the time,” says brother and bass player Martin. “The film lets us examine where we went wrong.”

SOUL BOYS SET FOR CANNES

The Spandau Ballet documentary that proved a hit at SXSW in March, is to be screened to buyers at the ➢ Cannes Marché next month, handled by UK sales company Metro International

“We’re human, we didn’t always get it right, we were young kids thrust into the limelight,” says singer Tony Hadley.

“We went through that terrible time facing each other in court at one point,” says instrumentalist Steve Norman. “It was awful. I put my saxophone on the top shelf and didn’t want anything to do with it for about four or five years cos it was symbolic of Spandau.”

Throughout the interview St John of the Drums emerges as the Kentish Town savant with a healing prayer for the sins that destroyed lifelong friendships between the five soulboys. “You can’t be revisionist,” Keeble observes. “It was a major thing when we got back together five years ago. You cannot unknow stuff that’s gone on but I think everyone felt in their hearts that it was now better to focus on the future. The whole world’s still in front of us.”

Click any pic to launch slideshow

➢ Why the trailer for Soul Boys of the Western World
stops you in your tracks

What’s sad from a fan’s perspective is that the live gig in Texas which followed the film’s screening was the first and only time Spandau have played together since their year-long Reformation tour ended in 2010. That comeback tour was a sensational success, just as this gig has proved to be. The video interviewer, writer Lori Majewski, called Spandau a formidable live band: “I was surprised how tight you guys were, how great the live show was!” Entertainment Weekly reported the gig exuding “a rare atmosphere for a very youth-centrict fest, and a truly inspired musical moment – not bad for a bunch of fifty-somethings”.

The documentary has received keen reviews for its sole use of vintage footage and director George Hencken’s intelligent deployment of the band’s hit tunes from the 80s. The SXSW interview also reveals that at the 1985 Live Aid concert Steve Norman shot some under-cover footage backstage where cameras officially weren’t allowed. John Keeble remarks on the amount of original footage in their movie which the band themselves had never seen before – much shot by Martin Kemp as a Super8 enthusiast – while there’s plenty more footage that didn’t make the cut. So come on, lads. Let’s stage a premiere for the Spandau out-takes.

Click on video title above, then scroll to No 7 in the playlist

❏ This meeting of travellers at a crossroads in Austin has all the signs of a mystical resurrection sent from heaven, yet we’re told a Spandau tour is unlikely to happen this side of New Year. How patient must fans be? They had to wait three years for this film to be finished, having evolved naturally from a gifted film-maker recording the Reformation tour.

Two superb books on Spandau have been in preparation for years: one, a smart limited edition photobook, still awaits a strategic publication date to support a career jump-start.

The other was commissioned ten years ago, yes ten, in a wishful gesture of reconciliation while band members roamed the wilderness of solo careers. The showbiz writer Paul Simper was rightly deemed the only person qualified and trusted to capture the fascinating inside story of Spandau Ballet. His manuscript was revised five years ago to boost the Reformation tour, then publication was postponed in order to embrace the selfsame Reformation tour. His gripping text is far more thorough than many rock biogs because of the extraordinary times it describes and the wide-ranging context his research has captured. Currently, Simper is re-retuning his words which could become the book-of-the-film – once the film is given a release date. “Hearing the band talk so eloquently and emotionally gives me new impetus,” he said today. “It’s thrilling to hear them looking to the future.”

For the fans camped at the tiny Oasis of Hope, the road to truth and reconciliation for the band who’ve been pals since schooldays is a long one, as it has been for post-apartheid South Africa, and for Ireland since partition. But y’know, those two were nations with histories riven by British politics. Not a chart-topping pop group. Why doesn’t somebody ask Jerry for his Final Word then we can all get back to the music?

VULCAN GAS CO: SPANDAU’S FIRST US GIG IN 28 YEARS

AND AT THE LOU REED TRIBUTE AT SXSW

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: Curtain up on Spandau’s rollercoaster saga of war and peace

CHEEKY CHAPPIES: THE WAY THEY WERE IN ’81

FRONT PAGE