David Bowie classics performed in full by Holy Holy - Newcastle gig reviewed

With the shock passing of the David Bowie in 2016 we lost one of the all-time great performers; a musical visionary who broke down the boundaries of creativity to produce some of the most iconic sounds and visions of a generation.

Sunday, 17th February 2019, 1:19 pm
Updated Sunday, 17th February 2019, 2:17 pm
Glenn Gregory sang two classic David Bowie albums, with his former producer Tony Visconti on bass. All pics: Mick Burgess.

Bowie may be gone but he`s certainly not forgotten, as his musical legacy lives on.

And judging by the large crowd who turned out at the Tyne Theatre in Newcastle on Tuesday night to see Holy Holy perform two of his best-loved albums, there's still a big demand to see his music played live.

Glenn Gregory was a compelling frontman who nailed David Bowie's vocals.

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While there are a fair few tribute acts trudging around the clubs paying homage to Bowie's music, none are quite like Holy Holy.

With a band made up of drummer Woody Woodmansey from Bowie's early period and bassist Tony Visconti, who played on his first two records and went onto produce no fewer than 10 of his albums across his whole career, their credentials to play Bowie's music are impeccable. Holy Holy are no tribute band.

With Heaven 17's Glenn Gregory taking the unenviable task of singing Bowie's songs and Generation X/Chelsea/Gene Loves Jezebel guitarist James Stevenson and Paul Cuddeford (Tom Jones/Robin Gibb) tackling Mick Ronson's guitar parts, you just knew his legacy was in the safest and most respectful of hands.

Drawing on Bowie's early days and to many, his best, vintage years, Holy Holy delivered an intoxicating performance of The Man Who Sold The World and Ziggy Stardust albums in their entirety, from start to finish, in their original running order.

Holy Holy played the David Bowie albums The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Man Who Sold The World in full.

To the long-time Bowie fans, this was a dream come true, with the rarely - if ever? - played The Width Of A Circle opening the show and the wonderful gothic-tinged After All coming soon after.

Cuddeford brought some neat guitar moves during the glam-rocking She Shook Me Cold, but the piece de resistance of the first half was the impressive take on the title track to The Man Who Sold The World.

Glenn Gregory absolutely nailed it. Indeed, he was a revelation all night, a compelling frontman who tackled Bowie's unique vocals in his own way while paying all due respect to the way Bowie originally sang them.

The second part of the show was even better. The Rise and Fall Of Ziggy Stardust is rightly considered not only one of Bowie's best albums, but one of the finest from that whole era, and Holy Holy performed it beautifully, from the beer hall singalong of Five Years to the majestical Moonage Daydream.

Drummer Woody Woodmansey is the last surviving member of the Ziggy Stardust line-up of David Bowie's band.

It was perhaps the spine-tingling rendition of Starman that really hit the sweet spot, with its towering chorus and James Stevenson channelling his inner Ronson into the guitar parts and backing vocals.

Jessica Lee Morgan, daughter of Tony Visconti and folk singer Mary Hopkin, has music in her DNA, and provided additional guitars, saxophone and vocals to the show.

And on Lady Stardust she took centre stage for one of the evening's most beautiful moments, before Woody's pulsating drums during Star drove the night to the final stretch.

What a stretch that was too, with the punky Hang On To Yourself preceding Ziggy Stardust and Suffragette City, where Stevenson's snarling, sleazy riff and Visconti's thumping bassline gave it a real edge.

James Stevenson, who has played with Generation X, Chelsea, The Alarm and The Cult, among others, filled the shoes of Mick Ronson on guitar.

How on earth do you match that? How about a four-song encore including the haunting Where Are We Now from the Visconti-produced The Next Day album, followed by a mesmerising Life On Mars, Changes and the rabble-rousing closer Rebel Rebel.

The review in a nutshell? Only two words are needed. Absolutely brilliant.

Bassist Tony Visconti and drummer Woody Woodmansey were part of David Bowie's backing band.