Category Archives: Pop music

2015 ➤ Weird and wonderful new Bowie – his Blackstar man is set to blow our minds

David Bowie, pop music, video, Blackstar, starman, album, Johan Renck

Blackstar: Bowie being messianic and ghoulish

◼ SET ASIDE 10 MINUTES AND HOLD YOUR BREATH. David Bowie’s first video for his January album is titled in plain English Blackstar, though the album itself is titled ★ following the Princely principle of symbols. The video is ghoulish, disturbing, eerie, messianic, ritualistic, jazzy, baffling – and a little mousey. His tale of a starman’s legacy out there in a faraway galaxy is musically immaculately orchestrated and makes compelling viewing and listening. It will have the geeks mining for references in its overwrought and folksy narrative. A momentarily real-world Bowie actually thumbs his nose at us singing “You’re the flash in the pan/ I’m the great I am!” yet the overall gist seems relentlessly morbid and we’re not helped by not being able to catch crucial lyrics, which for a music video is a drawback.

Directed by the Swedish music video maestro Johan Renck and premiered last night on Palladia TV, it’s unlike anything you’ve seen before. Natch.

➢ Blackstar is also pre-bookable on vinyl

David Bowie, pop music, video, Blackstar, starman, album, Johan Renck

➢ Nov 23: “We were listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar,” says producer Tony Visconti. “The goal was to avoid rock & roll” – Rolling Stone reveals all about ★ the album

➢ “As a taster for the forthcoming album, it works perfectly” – Alex Petridis reviews the single Blackstar in The Guardian:

The influence of latterday Scott Walker still appears to be making itself felt in the lyrics – they’re elliptical, filled with images of fear and death (“Take your passport and shoes and your sedatives”) and clearly just waiting to be unpicked by the more dedicated Bowiephile – but the music drifts episodically: from an ambient opening to vocals floating mournfully over a jerkily propulsive drum pattern and synthesisers squelching in vaguely acid houseish style to a sax solo to a beautiful, slow middle section with both a lovely melody and electronically-treated backing vocals. . .

David Bowie, pop music, video, Blackstar, starman, album, Johan Renck



➤ “Just a Friday night at a rock show,” by a survivor

Bataclan, terrorism, Paris

Isobel’s T-shirt

➢ By Isobel Bowdery at Facebook, 14 Nov 2015;

You never think it will happen to you. It was just a Friday night at a rock show. The atmosphere was so happy and everyone was dancing and smiling. And then when the men came through the front entrance and began the shooting, we naively believed it was all part of the show.

It wasn’t just a terrorist attack, it was a massacre. Dozens of people were shot right in front of me. Pools of blood filled the floor. Cries of grown men who held their girlfriends’ dead bodies pierced the small music venue. Futures demolished, families heartbroken, in an instant.

Shocked and alone, I pretended to be dead for over an hour, lying among people who could see their loved ones motionless. Holding my breath, trying to not move, not cry – not giving those men the fear they longed to see. I was incredibly lucky to survive. But so many didn’t. The people who had been there for the exact same reasons as I – to have a fun Friday night – were innocent.

This world is cruel. And acts like this are suppose to highlight the depravity of humans and the images of those men circling us like vultures will haunt me for the rest of my life. The way they meticulously aimed and shot people around the standing area I was in the centre of without any consideration for human life. It didn’t feel real. I expected any moment for someone to say it was just a nightmare.

Bataclan, Paris,Isobel Bowdery, survivor, terrorism, shootings ,

Isobel Bowdery: survivor of the terrorist shootings at last night’s Bataclan concert in Paris

But being a survivor of this horror lets me shed light on the heroes. To the man who reassured me and put his life on line to try and cover my brain whilst I whimpered, to the couple whose last words of love kept me believing the good in the world, to the police who succeded in rescuing hundreds of people, to the complete strangers who picked me up from the road and consoled me during the 45 minutes I truly believed the boy I loved was dead, to the injured man who I had mistaken for him and then on my recognition that he was not Amaury, held me and told me everything was going to be fine despite being all alone and scared himself, to the woman who opened her doors to the survivors, to the friend who offered me shelter and went out to buy new clothes so I wouldn’t have to wear this blood stained top, to all of you who have sent caring messages of support – you make me believe this world has the potential to be better. To never let this happen again.

But most of this is to the 80 people who were murdered inside that venue, who weren’t as lucky, who didn’t get to wake up today and to all the pain that their friends and families are going through. I am so sorry. There’s nothing that will fix the pain. I feel privileged to be there for their last breaths. And truly believing that I would join them, I promise that their last thoughts were not on the animals who caused all this. It was thinking of the people they loved. As I lay down in the blood of strangers and waiting for my bullet to end my mere 22 years, I envisioned every face that I have ever loved and whispered I love you, over and over again, reflecting on the highlights of my life. Wishing that those I love knew just how much, wishing that they knew that no matter what happened to me, to keep believing in the good in people. To not let those men win.

Last night, the lives of many were for ever changed and it is up to us to be better people. To live lives that the innocent victims of this tragedy dreamt about but sadly will now never be able to fulfil. RIP angels. You will never be forgotten.


1982 ➤ Discovered: Lost footage of PX and Steve Strange in drag

◼ A SENSATIONAL DISCOVERY LOST FOR 30 YEARS … This 14-minute TV report captures the subculturally fertile period of spring 1982 when so many of London clubland’s collaborative talents were making their own creative waves, even as nightlife itself went mainstream with a bang and mega-discos started to take hold across austerity Britain.

Here leader of the Blitz Kids and club entrepreneur Steve Strange is discovered by Robert Mugnerot for TF1’s Megahertz in an excellent piece of reportage from London. It was shown in France on 23 March 1982, two weeks before Steve staged his Best of British designers fashion show at Le Palace in Paris, but shot presumably in that pause when Strange and his deejay Rusty Egan were clubless, between the end of Heroes in Baker Street’s Barracuda, Dec 1981, and the opening of Camden Palace in April 1982.

This package intersperses Visage performance clips with initial footage at the always-cool Embassy club showing many of the usual suspects, plus a good sequence inside Helen Robinson’s PX boutique, featuring Helen, the young milliner Stephen Jones and designer Melissa Caplan. It closes with model Julia Fodor in studio for a Visage video shoot, plus Steve Strange dragged up as his pal Francesca Thyssen singing The Lady is a Tramp in a duet with the French singer Ronny, both wearing Antony Price, as featured in Vogue. Cap that!

Stephen Jones , PX, fashion,Steve Strange, Swinging 80s

1982: Milliner Stephen Jones and Steve Strange show off the PX boutique to French TV. (Screengrab © TF1)

Steve Strange , video, Ronny

1982: Steve Strange dragged up singing The Lady is a Tramp with Ronny for French TV. (Screengrab © TF1)

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s, my full 1982 report and videos of the Best of British show in Paris: Steve Strange takes fashion to the French


➤ Princess Julia relives the day when 1980 went Boom!

 Daily Mirror, Blitz Kids, New Romantics

The Daily Mirror, 3 March 1980

◼ IT WAS MARCH 1980 WHEN the term Blitz Kids was first used to describe the “weird” and “whacky” young people making waves with their in-flight haircuts at the Tuesday club-night in London’s Blitz wine bar. The cutting here from the Daily Mirror says it all: in those days the left-wing tabloid sold 3.6million copies daily and was still taken seriously for its news coverage, while the Sun was just overtaking those sales figures with a distinctly down-market approach. Newspapers were a mass medium back then.

Using the lively wide-eyed language of the red-tops, Mirror feature writer Christena Appleyard put her finger on exactly those elements of individualism and waywardness that would later the same year see the Blitz Kids renamed the New Romantics. What she completely omits to mention is that four days later the house band of the Blitz, Spandau Ballet, were playing only their fourth live gig in London, at the trendy Scala cinema. In fact, she doesn’t even mention the band alongside Visage and Yellow Magic Orchestra as part of the club’s “electro diskow” synthesised soundtrack.

Appleyard was a savvy writer hearing only one part of a genesis story, yet her headline put the Blitz Kids on the media map and Boom! – this was lift-off for the careers and reputations of about 50 cool clubbers
in the short term, and a whole new look and sound for UK pop culture generally.

Julia Fodor is part of the founding mythology of the Blitz Kids, and tonight in London she was giving an illustrated “audience” to a select crowd in Hoxton. At The Glory pub she was reliving her teen years as mannequin de vie for PX, the New Romantic clothes shop, and as Blitz Club cloakroom girl, who later became a cultural commentator and international club deejay who at her height was being helicoptered into Paris to play at the posey Queen nightclub on the Champs Elysées.

New Romantics, fashion

PX moves into Endell Street in Feb 1980: New Romantic satin gowns, Fauntleroy collars – and Julia. Photographed © by Martin Brading

And Julia’s rise was the norm for those key Blitz Kids with ambition and attitude in 1980. Before that March you could count the media mentions of Steve Strange’s club night: three in the Evening Standard; a page in Tatler; a feature in New Society, the sociology weekly; and a feature about “chiconomy” in the March issue of 19, the teen magazine.

Then Boom! The Blitz Kids headline triggered a small rash of media outbreaks as two perceptive photographers visited the club to take pictures – Homer Sykes and Derek Ridgers – while student journalist Perry Haines featured his Blitz pals in the Evening Standard fashion pages. What put Spandau Ballet on the map, however, were reports in the Standard, the Daily Star and Record Mirror of their electrifying concert, complete with ornamental Blitz Kids dancing in the aisles to a whole new style of music-making – theatrical, romantic, fashion-conscious and danceable – that resulted in a second Scala concert being scheduled for May.

Reading about the Blitz phenomenon had intrigued a young researcher on Janet Street-Porter’s yoof documentary slot, 20th Century Box, at London Weekend Television which then commissioned the May replay for their cameras. In the meantime one alert talent scout at Chrysalis Records also wanted to hear the band’s music. The next few months saw the Blitz Kids start to gobble up column inches and enliven the odd TV strand, while the two coolest magazines of the decade, The Face and i-D, were launched specifically to report this burgeoning youth culture based on street style.

Spandau landed the first contract for a New Romantic band in October, while Visage released its first album in November after signing to Polydor, and the Romantic band-wagon was under way. By Christmas 1981 the sound of the UK pop charts had been transformed completely from rock guitars to bass and drum.

❏ Tonight and for two more Mondays, An Audience with Princess Julia celebrates London’s glorious counter-culture with extracts from her own memoirs supported by visuals by her friend, deejay and face about the club scene Jeffrey Hinton. Tonight Professor Iain Webb also participates, with bespoke accessoriser Judy Blame on Nov 16 and milliner Stephen Jones OBE on Nov 23 – all at The Glory, London E2 8AS.
➢ Tickets available only in advance via Ticketweb


Blitz Kids, Ryan Lo, fashion, Princess Julia

Julia talks: adorned in a kind of Baby Jane pink ruffled nightie by Ryan Lo, from his SS16 collection, with cap of roses (inset, being snapped by Louie Banks)

Click any pic below to launch slideshow


2015 ➤ All in one room – more Blitz Kids than you could shake a New Romantic frill at

Café Royal, commemoration

Style guru Peter York meets Steve Strange’s family at Club Café Royal last night – sister Tanya, nephew Connor and mother Gill at right – with old friends centre, Judi Frankland and Anne Pigalle. (Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s)

◼ A BUZZING REUNION OF OLD ROMANTICS partied hard last night in memory of the inspirational host of the 80s Blitz Club Steve Strange, who died suddenly last February. He would have been proud of the gathering at London’s Club Café Royal last night, organised by his close friends Rosemary Turner, Amanda Lloyd and Steve Mahoney. Along with Amanda, Steve’s mother Gill and sister Tanya Harrington have created a charity called the Steve Strange Collective to sustain his legacy as style icon, popstar and one of the key shapers of the 80s. This celebration of Britain’s New Romantic heyday was the first of their projects.

The most impressive turnout last night came from the St Martin’s Massive ’78-84, a galaxy of original Blitz Club regulars whose attitude and talent ignited a new pop culture that became the Swinging 80s. Significant absentees included those living abroad or currently on the road with their still-active acts, such as Rusty Egan, Culture Club and Spandau Ballet.

The champagne party warmed up with a series of Steve’s admirers providing intermittent entertainment, opening with poet Celine Hispache. As Two Blondes and a Harp, former Shock dancer Lowri-Ann Richards in leather jacket and her accompanist Glenda Clwyd gave us a Berlinesque rendering of Visage’s Pleasure Boys. Cabaret chantoose Eve Ferret shimmied in a full-length black peignoir before the Harrington family, first setting fashionistas Stephen Jones and Fiona Dealey a-boogeying before animating her number All Ze French I Know by scattering mangetouts o’er the guests. Eve reminded us how Steve became the nucleus around whom a generation of like-minded spirits came to express themselves. For her the night became more special when she was reunited with her onetime partner James Biddlecombe of their act Biddie and Eve which was a backbone of the Blitz wine bar’s cabaret programme.

Click any pic below to launch the first slideshow

Later Romance vocalist Jamie Lovatt reminded us of his near triumph on The Voice TV talent show, and electro-swing deejay Lee Being gave us Love Croaks. Finally came the loyal friends who joined with Steve in recent years to revive the 80s clubbing spirit with their Face club-nights, Camden Palace doyenne Rosemary Turner and new-generation deejay Alejandro Gocast. He hushed the guests gently and reminded us with intense poignancy of Steve’s giant influence on possibly every single person in the room tonight.

Another giant figure quietly circulating the party was style guru Peter York, who in this context we could dub the Anna Wintour of subcultural commentators, having documented all manner of British tribes from Sloane Rangers to his unique discovery, Them, in his landmark book Style Wars. Back in the day, York claimed that Steve’s Blitz club created “a powerful mix of magpie retro, fastidious taste and market exploitation, tailor-made for what they were calling the art form of the 80s”. Last night, he was charm itself, evidently wowed to meet the Harrington family.

The evening’s music was absolutely on fleek. While David Holah resurrected the fabulous Blitz Jive amid some hefty dancing to good old Romo tunes from Roxy and Japan and Bowie, spinning the platters was a sequence of deejays from Lee Being, Dennis Da Silva, Alejandro Gocast, Steven John Proctor to Little Andy.

Lifelong friend of Steve and bright spark of the Welsh contingent Kim Smith reported today: “Steve, we celebrated your life last night and it was fabulous to meet people that you have told me about.”

Click any pic below to launch the second slideshow


In no particular order here are few of the guests we recognised at the Club Café Royal celebration, with apologies to many more whose names we hope to add once they become known. . .

Gill, Tanya and Connor Harrington, Kim Smith, Mark Fuller, Mark Paul Jones, Lorraine Fitzgerald, Amanda and Shannon Lloyd, Lloyd Daniels, Trevor Byron Jones, Richard Lewis, Peter York, Princess Julia, Fiona Dealey, Stephen Jones, Greg Davis, Judith Frankland, Duggie Fields, Darla Jane Gilroy, David Holah, Steve Mahoney, Jennie Belle Star Matthias, Dennis Da Silva, Alejandro Gocast, Steven Proctor, Little Andy, Leo Baker, Paul Simper, Mark Wardel, Pam Hogg, Daniel Lismore, Franceska Luther King, Anne Pigalle, Mick Hurd, Peter Ashworth, Kiki, ‪Gabriella Palmano‪, Paul Lonergan, Gemma O’Brian, Bob Biewald, Louise Prey, Ajay Kenth, Kenny Campbell, Nelson Santos, Robert Gordon Eddie, Tamara Adair, Lowri-Ann Richards, Janice Long, Tommy Mack, Mark Tabard, Laura D’Alessio, Steven Jones, Logan Sky, John Harlow, Kevin Buck, Marc Albert, Pinkietessa Pinkie, Caroline Fox, Terry Challingsworth, Soraya Wilkinson-Wyke, Sandra Fox, Angelina Emma Whelan, Bart Barton, Francesca Shashkova, Crimson Skye, Philip Anthony Gable, Nigel Marlow, Tony Vickers, Mark Allen, James Leigh, Ffio Welford, Fifi Russell, Peter Barney, Jurgita Kareivaite-Hamblin, Alejandro Dante, Neena Richies, Dave Baby, Glenda Clwyd, Matthew Mullane, ‪Lee Being, Issidora Mua Rose‬, Heather Crimson, Andy Adamson, Jamie Karl, Alex Gerry, Sasha De Suinn, Stephanie Henie, Dane Goulding, Michelle Deyna-Hayward, Kevin Bennett…

➢ Click to view Nigel Marlow’s brief video at Club Café Royal

➢ Click to view video by Francesca Shashkova of Alejandro’s moving tribute to Steve

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
A Strangely Steve farewell – the funeral video, 2015

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
Original Blitz Kids say farewell to Steve Strange, their host, pivot, style icon, friend