Tag Archives: Concert

➤ How Bowie threaded blue notes through his final surge of creativity

David Bowie, The Last Five Years,TV,video, Sue,

Bowie as a projected image in the video for Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)

“If you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel capable of. Go a little bit out of your depth and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting” – David Bowie

THE MOST GRIPPING SEQUENCES in the new TV documentary about Bowie’s final surge of creativity are those which assemble every musician in the bands he worked with from 2012 to the end. Each band re-enacts pivotal moments when they rehearsed the music, inspired by his lyrics, and laid down the tracks for the albums The Next Day and Blackstar. Particularly revealing is the session when pure jazz soloists created the nerve-tingling Sue (Or in a Season of Crime), which Bowie added to his 2014 “best-of” collection, Nothing Has Changed.

To mark the first anniversary of the star’s death, this weekend BBC2 screened David Bowie: The Last Five Years, Francis Whately’s sequel to his other superb documentary Five Years broadcast in 2013. The role of jazz in Bowie’s musical temperament seldom gets discussed, though his producer Tony Visconti says the jazz influence had always been there in the music but underneath the surface. As a small child Bowie heard a jazz band and right away said: “I’m going to learn the saxophone. When I grow up, I’m going to play in [this] band. So I persuaded my dad to get me a kind of a plastic saxophone on hire purchase.”

In 2013 in New York he met Maria Schneider, a jazz composer, handed her a demo disc and asked her to extemporise around a tune called Sue. In turn, she told him he had to listen to this sax player Donny McCaslin and without missing a beat Bowie went straight into the studio with his group and Maria and out came possibly the purest jazz number of his career, a discomfiting tale of infidelity. It won Schneider a Best Arrangement Grammy in 2016.

➢ Watch the Donny McCaslin Group working
on Bowie’s Blackstar

Click any pic below to launch slideshow

REVIEWS OF THE LAST FIVE YEARS TV DOC

➢ A thrilling portrait of a late-life renaissance
– Jasper Rees at the Arts Desk

The opening yielded much joyful footage of Bowie goofing around on the Reality tour (2003), seeming much more like one of the boys than he ever managed with Tin Machine. The band still seemed spooked at the memory of his collapse, before he was carted off to retirement in an ambulance.

Maria Schneider was one of many musicians – three complete bands – who re-formed to walk through the creation of the music. Drummer Zachary Alford still looked shocked at the NDA handed him as he showed up to work on The Next Day. “If I said anything about it,” remembered bassist Gail Ann Dorsey, “I would be in big trouble legally.” Nobody was asked if Bowie really would have sued his collaborators for spilling the beans.

The recent collaborators reflected on the extent to which the new music was steeped in the past. But there was also good stuff from the old lags who worked (and sometimes slept) with Bowie in the feather-cut era: Ideally there would be a DVD with extras featuring much more from each of them. Chief keeper of the flame Tony Visconti sat at a console and played excerpts of Bowie’s unaccompanied vocal takes. On Blackstar came the haunting sound of Bowie wheezing like an ancient mariner fighting for every last scrap of breath. . . / Continued online

➢ A treat and a treatise on music’s departed genius
– by James Hall, Daily Telegraph

The Last Five Years wove previously unheard Bowie interview material with on-screen contributions from collaborators including producer Tony Visconti. The access and insights were faultless. Whately’s programme was essentially a treatise on artistic rebirth. And it showed that although Bowie’s musical style constantly changed, the themes that preoccupied him — alienation, escape, the notion of fame — were there until the end.

During his final creative burst, Bowie gradually revealed to collaborators that he was ill. In the most poignant scene, we learned that Bowie only discovered his cancer was terminal three months before he died. This was in October 2015 when he was filming the video for Lazarus, in which he sings the line “Look up here, I’m in heaven”. Bowie worked and cared and joked until the end. Through tears, Visconti said that he was at ‘the top of his game’. . . / Continued online

➢ David Bowie: What have we learned since his death? Some astounding new Bowie facts
have come to light – via The Guardian

70TH BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE CONCERT IN LONDON

tribute ,concert, David Bowie, Steve Norman, London

Brixton tribute concert for Bowie: Gail Ann Dorsey singing Young Americans with Spandau Ballet’s Steve Norman. (Photo: Getty)

❏ On what would have been Bowie’s 70th birthday his friend the actor Gary Oldman gathered at the Brixton Academy a 30-strong all-star lineup of musicians who had collaborated throughout his career, with some glorious orchestral and choral support. The show is the first in a run of gigs around the world taking place in cities that have a strong connection with Bowie and his work.

The London concert featured Mike Garson, Earl Slick, Adrian Belew, Mark Plati, Gerry Leonard, Sterling Campbell, Zachary Alford, Holly Palmer, Catherine Russell, plus such guests as Tony Hadley and Simon Lebon. Special highlights saw Gail Ann Dorsey singing Young Americans with Spandau’s Steve Norman on sax; and an audience singalong to Life on Mars? led by Adrian Belew and gifted vocals from Tom Chaplin from the band Keane. Plenty of live videos at YouTube.



➢ 10 Jan update: Gary Kemp joins his friend Robert Elms on BBC Radio London to discuss David Bowie, one year on. (Catch up on iPlayer for one month: starts at 13mins)

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: “I’m not a rock star” Bowie often said – No, David, you were a messiah

➢ 13 Jan: Iggy Pop’s tribute to The Songs of David Bowie on BBC Radio 6 Music and iPlayer for another month

➢ As a confused teenager living in Seventies suburbia, singer Andy Polaris retraces his obsession with Bowie

➢ Commemorating Bowie at the BBC

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➤ Prince live in London puts the afro back in fashion!

Prince, live, London, pop music

Last night’s secret gig: Prince live at the Electric Ballroom in London backed by his new band 3rdEyeGirl. (Photograph PA)

❚ HERE’S THE GODLIKE ONE live onstage in the Electric Ballroom at about 1am this morning all in black with a furry sleeveless top plus wild afro hair. Prince was backed by his new band 3rdEyeGirl and his audience consisted of whoever ventured out in last night’s lashing storm.

His first London gig since he played 20 nights at the O2 arena seven years ago opened with a slow version of I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man and Prince told the smattering of fans: “You sound like ten thousand. We love each and every one of you.” His manager Kiran Sharma tweeted: “If you were there… you know :) See you tomorrow! Same place.”

Prince, now aged 55, said he hoped to play “iconic” London venues such as Ronnie Scott’s jazz club and the legendary 60s club the Bag o’ Nails, where Jimi Hendrix performed and recently reopened.


According to the passionate lifelong Prince fan Goldies Parade a series of “guerrilla gigs”, which mark the release of the PlectrumElectrum album, is expected to be held at the Electric Ballroom for the remainder of the week. Info is sparce but leaked out following the long-awaited “press conference” in the Leyton, east London, living room of Lianne La Havas, the British soul singer whose debut album became iTunes Album of the Year 2012. There Prince played two acoustic tracks, Pretzelbodylogic and FunkNRoll, bathed in purple light.

The London jaunt is, he said, “open-ended – we’re going to be here until people don’t want to hear us any more”. 3rdEyeGirl consists of Danish bassist Ida Nielsen, Canadian guitarist Donna Grantis and American drummer Hannah Ford.

Ticketing for further dates is to be handled by one outlet, but to avoid touts cashing in, tickets for this week – price £6 !!! “because it’s a new band” – will be available only on the door and only one per person.

This year of course marks the 30th anniversary of Prince’s astonishing debut album Purple Rain.

➢ On video: the monster queue for tickets in Camden at 3pm!

Prince , live, concert, UK tour, Electric Ballroom, pop music

First pic tweeted last night: Prince live at the Electric Ballroom. Photograph @stephenbudd

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➤ Thief duo take a trip into the 90s

Fin Munro, Charlotte Mallory, electronic music, pop, Thief, concert, review, London, Hoxton Bar

Thief in Hoxton: languid romance from vocalist Charlotte Mallery. (Photography Shapersofthe80s)

❚ A DECADE SHIFT HAS MOVED Thief’s sound into another era of Britpop. Wednesday’s live set of half a dozen numbers at the Hoxton Bar and Grill suggests that the electro duo’s early 80s vibe has acquired the garagey feel of the 90s, while still evincing languid romance.

Mesmeric hints of Sade layered with essence of Massive Attack result in laid-back electronic lounge music with kickin’ beats and bleeps. The single Friend Lover becomes a mildly melancholy love song as delivered by its lyricist, drama-studies graduate Charlotte Mallory, yet it is propelled by the optimistic harmonics and percussion of Fin Munro, keyboardist, deejay, producer and London club-host. As they told radio deejay Gary Crowley in an interview last month, their songwriting partnership pursues the themes of soul and emotion, complicated feelings and unrequited love.

An EP is planned for release within the next couple of months. Meanwhile catch Thief again on Thursday Jan 30 at The Notting Hill Arts Club.

Fin Munro, Charlotte Mallory, electronic music, pop, Thief, concert, review, London, Hoxton Bar,

Thief in Hoxton: electronics by Fin Munro, vocals by Charlotte Mallery. (Photography Shapersofthe80s)

➢ Listen to Thief interviewed by 80s pathfinder Gary Crowley – Tuesdays at 7pm on Amazing Radio (not forgetting his Music Machine, Saturdays at 6pm on BBC London)

➢ Fin Munro interviewed at Farah, Feb 6:
We’re a two piece, Charlotte sings and I play the music. We’ve been influenced by bands like Sade, Everything but the Girl, but also more recent acts like SBTRKT, James Blake and Purity Ring. We’re an electronic band but we definitely have influences of soul and R&B in our songs… / Continued online

➢ Charlotte Mallory blogging at Huffington Post, Feb 6:
Fin and I first met at a house party four years ago. He’d just been to see The XX at Maida Vale studios earlier that day, so was feeling musically inspired to start something new. Although we didn’t form Thief that year, we began sending each other music we liked and kept in contact while I was studying at Sussex Uni in Brighton and he was DJing and running club nights in London… / Continued online

FRIEND LOVER AT SOUNDCLOUD

Don’t Let Go (En Vogue Cover) AT SOUNDCLOUD


➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: Fin Munro plunges into love and takes a walk on the wild side

➢ Thief at Facebook

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2013 ➤ Gary Kemp’s video message for posterity on TV this Saturday

Dublin O2, Reformation Tour, Spandau Ballet reunion

Afternoon sound check at Dublin’s O2: Spandau Ballet on stage together in 2009 for the first time in two decades – John Keeble, Steve Norman, Tony Hadley and Gary Kemp. At centre, production manager Lars. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

❚ SONGWRITER GARY KEMP recalls the 2009-10 Reformation Tour by his pioneering New Romantic band Spandau Ballet, to be screened as a 2 hours 30 mins broadcast on Sky Arts this weekend:

The Reformation Tour was a coming back together I never thought would happen. After years of fighting, this tour taught us that being Spandau Ballet is a thing to be proud of. It turned out to be the best and most successful tour we ever did. If there’s one piece of evidence I’d like to leave for posterity it would be this film.

➢ The Reformation Tour 2009, produced by Scott Millaney –
Sky Arts 1 on Saturday November 9 at 9pm GMT
and again on Sunday at 12pm GMT

➢ Full coverage and review by Shapersofthe80s of Spandau’s reunion concert at the O2 arena in Dublin on October 13, 2009, plus more backstage colour from the UK tour

➢ 2010, Shapersofthe80s with Spandau touring overseas:
“so British, so gracious”

Spandau Ballet, Reformation Tour, 2009, Dublin, Gary Kemp, Tony Hadley, reunion

The picture they said could never be taken: a big hug between Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley and Gary Kemp during the band’s 2009 comeback concert in Dublin, after duetting With the Pride from 1984. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

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2012 ➤ Grace Jones celebrates the day she met the Queen, two months on

Grace Jones, HM Queen Elizabeth II, Diamond Jubilee Concert,

Meeting of two queens on June 4. At Facebook Ivan Antunovic adds this caption… The Queen: Tell me your secret, dear… Grace: Nightclubbing, your majesty, nightclubbing. (Photograph: PA)

❚ IT WAS A MEETING OF TWO QUEENS in their own realms… This isn’t a new photo but it was published yesterday on Grace Jones’s Official Facebook page as if the singer is suddenly chuffed to bits with the moment it captures. Just as chuffed seems to be the expression on the face of one’s monarch as HMQ greets Grace backstage following the star-studded Diamond Jubilee Concert on June 4. The official Facebook caption marks the two-month-old occasion: “It was an honour to play a part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations with such an incredible band… two months ago this weekend.”

Between the regal pair, the photo captures the terminally unfunny comedian Rob Brydon giving his impersonation of the nation in shock. Other videos record how his gags died the death on the Jubilee stage, but Grace’s video continues to make compulsive viewing as she twirls a hula-hoop (Why?) while singing Slave To The Rhythm, her biggest hit and title track from her triumphant seventh studio album, produced by Trevor Horn in 1985. Priceless cutaway shots of the royal box as Grace performs might have come straight from the Mel Brooks movie satire, The Producers.

The Jamaican-American singer, supermodel and actress Grace made her home in Britain after settling down with music producer Ivor Guest, 4th Viscount Wimborne. Didn’t she do well?

Grace Jones, HM Queen Elizabeth II, Diamond Jubilee Concert

Grace’s showstopper: This BBC video cutaway to the Royal Box during Grace Jones’s orgasmic act is a dead ringer for the gobsmacked audience watching Springtime for Hitler. How many astonished princesses, archbishops, ex-prime ministers and director-generals can you count?

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Grace Jones, HM Queen Elizabeth II, Diamond Jubilee Concert

Grace’s finale: Another cutaway as Grace bids farewell to her audience and becomes confused about the occasion: “We love you! Happy birthday, our Queen.” How many humourless heirs to the throne and bemused princesses royal can you count?

➢ Shapersofthe80s records how this happy breed enjoyed the rainiest Diamond Jubilee Pageant of the year on June 3

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