Performing The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars in its entirety
Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
13th April 2017
Reviewed by Rob Harrison
The gig begins with the Wendy Carlos Clockwork Orange film theme in true Ziggy fashion, right from the time in 1972 when David Bowie would play this before the gigs.
The band then bang into width of a circle whoops wrong album, surely this is “The Man Who Sold The World” not Ziggy, and it’s quite a racket too blasting forth from the PA stacks.
After the minor hiccup, we go into Ziggy properly, the whole point though of Five years, the opening track on the album is to set the scene, that of a dystopian society facing up to having five years “left to cry in”, to quote a line from the aforementioned song. it was supposedly Angie Bowie’s idea.
She noted that it needed an intro to create an atmosphere,
so Bowie scampered off and wrote Five Years.
Glenn Gregory is once again on vocal duties and camps it up with some style, but it’s interesting that Bowie did all the campy vocals but he still remained quite masculine, another feat of Bowie genius perhaps.
Remembering back to when Glen did the vocals on The Man Who Sold The World he wore a suit and remained sexually androgynous, but I suppose the character in The Man Who Sold The World was a bit nasty perhaps.
Soul Love is good followed by Moonage Daydream, which becomes a dionysian freakout and,
at one point, we appear to have three madmen on stage, James Stevenson, Tony Visconti and Paul Cuddeford. Cuddeford and Stevenson respectively on guitars doing their best Mick Ronson Impersonation and the audience going bonkers. I’m sure David would have been pleased.
After that we have the relative calm of Starman, which is nice with a groovy intro by Jessica Lee Morgan. The PA can’t really handle lots of noise but then again the venue is not equipped to be a rock venue, it’s built for classical pieces to be played, but I suppose now Ziggy is a classical piece of music so there you go.
Starman of course is followed by It Ain’t Easy, which is really good, as they do their own version of it and the same with Lady Stardust. The vocals this time are handled by Jessica Lee Morgan. Actually flipping it round and having girls sing the Bowie stuff makes for an interesting alternative. I think this is what is needed to tackle the album – a fresh approach similar to the Flaming Lips version of Sgt Pepper. The Lips threw out the rule book and did a rather crazy psychedelic version of the album.
I suppose everybody has come here tonight to listen to the album played pretty well note for note and they do that here, but I think a little tip to the modern world would perhps not go amiss perhaps.
Back to the gig, Star is another good bouncy track with the groovy drum fills courtesy of Woody at the back, and finally Rock and Roll Suicide finishes Ziggy.
They then bang into some other Bowie stuff, strangely enough it’s the other album Aladdin Sane which seems to shine. Aladdin Sane, which followed Ziggy, seems to stand up better live,
Watch that man blasts out with its explosive power. Time is another good track although Bernice Scott’s piano intro is marred by the bad PA. But it’s still good.
Then a nod and a wink to the 72 performances, where they do a medley of the wild eyed boy from Freecloud and All The Young Dudes, finishing off with Space Oddity where Tony Visconti works his magic with intricate guitar arrangements, complete with crashing cymbals from Woody.
They return to encore with Heroes, which has more dionysian guitar riffing, courtesy of Paul Cuddeford on his E Bow.
It’s good to see the band tackle the post Diamond Dogs era, so overall it was a good gig, but maybe a bit more adventurous take on Bowie tunes next time.
With so much Bowie material to play with you could probably gig for the next ten years.
Read Rob Harrison’s interview with Woody Woodmansey here: www.catalystmedia.org.uk/local-art-news/interview-with-woody-woodmansey