Sunday, 21 September 2014

Sarah Jane Morris at the Union Chapel for the launch of Bloody Rain

Sarah Jane Morris at the Union Chapel

I was lucky enough to be invited by Sarah Jane Morris to the launch of her new album, Bloody Rain.
I had not been to the union chapel before, but found it to be one of the most beautiful venues around.  We had options of hot food, drinks from the bar, or teas and hot chocolates, while we sat in the pews awaiting the performance to come.  It was a very civilised affair.

We started of the night with Joe Cang.  His songs were light, funny and in a calypso style.  I particularly loved the one about regretting a tattoo, which he has yet to record.
Sarah Jane is probably best known as the singer on ‘Don’t leave me this way’ with The Communards, but she is so much more than that – and has ventured away from pop music to find her true calling.

Her voice is stunning.  She has a great range and you can really feel the soul coming out of every pore.  She sings with such passion and that passion is contagious.  I could feel the words and music deep within me, moving me.
Bloody Rain is a triumph of talented artists who have come together to make meaningful songs.  Words that really mean something.  Each song tells a story.  For Example ‘David Kato’ was considered Uganda’s first openly gay man and was murdered for it.  Sarah Jane sings:

Who are the queer folk here?

Who is really living in fear?

Who is twisted at the end of the day?

Who sees life in a perverted way?

In contradiction to that, ‘Men just want to have fun’ has fun lyrics and an uplifting tune.

Men just want to have fun.

Men love to play with a loaded gun.

Shoot off all the barrels and done.

You hold up a condom, just watch them run.

 Before each song, Sarah Jane explained the meaning behind the lyrics.  It really did bring weight of the words together.  And Sarah Jane is a wonderful warm and funny person whose personality shines through.  She has an amazing smile and when she smiles the whole room lights up.  I also have to mention her fantastic style.  I love the dresses she wears.  She always looks fantastic.

Sarah Jane’s son was one of the backing singers, but when he did a line or two on his own, he really shined.  He has a fantastic range and if talent was currency, he is very rich indeed.
The whole night was an amazing collaboration of talent, tunes and people getting together.  It was a very special night.

She finished the evening by getting everyone out of their seats, with her own version of ‘Piece of my heart’ and of course, ‘Don’t leave me this way’.  Don’t leave me this way is a very special song to me. I would never be able to just sit down and listen to it. I HAVE to dance to it. And I danced like it was 1986!
For the encore, we all sung ‘I don’t wanna know about evil, I only wanna know about love’ which she did for Martyn Ware’s BEF’s album (volume three).  I just love love love her version of this!

This album is special.  Just reading the lyrics without even hearing the songs, you can see that. But the tunes bring another dimension to the songs. These are great songs.
I would never tell you what to do, but on this occasion you should go out and buy this album. I know you will love it!

Set list

Feel the love

For a friend

David Kato

Bloody Rain

On my way to you

Wild Flowers

Across the desert

Deeper well

Get them out

Coal train

Men just want to have fun

I shall be released

Piece of my heart

Don’t leave me this way

I don’t wanna know about evil


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Holy Holy its a Spider from Mars! (and other special guests)

I had a dream. I dreamt that I got to see the last Spider from Mars, Woody Woodmansey play with legendary producer Toni Visconti a David Bowie set. My dream came true last night.

My dream was not as good as the reality. For how could I have ever dreamt I could be so lucky to not only see that, but to include the hugely talented Glenn Gregory from Heaven 17, who has an amazing voice. I see Heaven 17 a lot, and have heard Glenn sing ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ so I had huge confidence that he could do this along with the Holy Holy band. I also have to mention Steve Norman, a huge talent that you probably know best from being in Spandau Ballet. He is stylish and talented playing sax and guitar and is part of the band.  Paul Cuddeford rocked his guitar too.  Add to this Mick Ronson’s sister Maggi and Lisa Ronson too…and you have the makings of a very special night.
I was already beyond excited for this gig. The first time ever that this legendary group of people will come together to perform ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ in its entirety.

I headed up to the Famous Cock (yes it’s a pub opposite the Garage venue) and counted the amount of Bowie T shirts! What a fantastic group of people with exceptional taste in music.
There was a massive queue to get in and I was surprised at how small the venue was.  Everyone crowded in and the excitement grew. It was hot. It was sweaty. No one cared. We all knew we were about to witness history being made.  Just those first few notes of Width of a Circle and I knew I was where I belonged.

I know I am writing a review but it is so hard to explain to those who did not experience it how life changing it was.
And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Marc Almond from Soft Cell comes on to sing ‘After all’. Now I have a story about Marc.  Many years ago I wrote to Jim’ll fix it to ask to meet him.  I have never seen him sing live and he is one of very few people I had on my list that I hadn’t seen.  I was almost in tears at his amazing performance.  I cannot say enough thank you’s to whomever made it possible for him to be there…but thank you from me. I knew he was going to do the Shepherds Bush gig next week, but not heard he was doing this one. I was blown away.

Lisa Ronson came on to do ‘Lady Stardust’ and boy can that girl sing. Not only is she beautiful and looked stunning in her dress, but she can really sing and did an amazing version. Can I go so far as to say it was better than Bowie’s? (I am trying hard not to be blasphemous) but probably yes.  She was amazing.
Glenn is so good. Glenn can deliver. Each song was sung with passion and love. Glenn is a big Bowie fan himself and really had the crowd going. Glenn also brings his great sense of humour to the show. When he asked the band what was the next song, I shouted out ‘Five years’. He winked at me and said they weren’t doing that one and said let’s do ‘let me go’ instead. ‘Oh no wrong gig’ he joked! I had been lucky enough to hear a private practice of Five Years and Glenn knows it is one of my all-time favourites, so I did have an inkling they were going to do it.

Of course I cannot talk about this gig and not mention two of the legends on that stage. I cannot tell you enough how impressed I was with Woody’s drumming. He really can give it some! He seems a humble person and that just made us love him all the more.
And of course the other legend, Tony Visconti. He can sure play Bass and has a great sense of humour too. I was so chuffed when he blew me a kiss. I felt quite special.

But the whole gig was special. You don’t get gigs like this very often. I had already said that in my interview a few weeks ago. I told you all to buy a ticket. If you didn’t you only have yourself to blame for missing not only the gig of the year…but the gig of a lifetime!
Thanks to Mark for the photo!


Friday, 5 September 2014

The Man Who Sold The World - exclusive interview

2014 – So what’s the best gig of the year?  Prince?  Kate Bush?  Sorry you are wrong.   The best gig of the year hasn’t happened yet. But in September on four very special nights, some very talented people will be doing David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World album in full.
It is a rare and exclusive chance to hear the drums of Woody Woodmansy (Yes a real spider from Mars) play alongside the very talented Mr Tony Visconti, who will be playing bass on the night.

But that is not all.  Others involved are also very talented professionals and include Steve Norman from Spandau Ballet and Glenn Gregory from Heaven 17.  It will also feature Mick Ronson’s sister, Maggi.
Now I ask you..How often does a gig this unique and rare come along?  This is the sort of gig that you want to say  ‘I was there’.

I have heard Glenn sing ‘Boys keep swinging’ with Heaven 17 and he knocked it out the ball park.
And if I haven’t tempted you yet, exclusively to those going to the gigs is the opportunity to buy a special numbered limited edition picture disc signed by the band that is only available at the gigs? Want a ticket? Of course you do!

The Garage gig has sold out but there is still the Shepherds Bush gig (with Marc Almond) in London, another in Sheffield and Glasgow. You can buy the tickets here:
In the meantime…I asked a few of the band some questions….enjoy!

Paul Cuddeford
Involvement in the band: Occasional gob & Guitar
What is your favourite Bowie album and why?  Hunky dory – the first proper album I bought and subsequently wore it out.

How did you get involved with TMWSTW project?  James was busy with the Cult before Christmas for which I am grateful.
What does TMWSTW album mean to you personally?  A great album with Loud bass.

And finally...what is your favourite Bowie lyric?  ‘Falls wanking to the floor’.  Obviously.

Glenn Gregory
Involvement in the band: singer

What is your favourite Bowie album and why?
Oh it’s hard to choose… I love Young Americans because it’s such a cool album, the whole look and the change in musical direction was a surprise and inspiration at the time.  I think it’s probably the Bowie album that I listen to the most.  But then again, Aladdin Sane really made an impact on me when I was young.  It was an album that I played that my mom and dad didn’t like, that’s always a milestone record.  I like diamond dogs as well, oh and Station to Station and Low, and… Sorry that’s not been a very good answer has it?

How did you get involved with TMWSTW project?
I had been working with Tony Visconti on the Stephen Emmer, International Blue project.  I met Tony in Abby Road Studio’s, as I walked into the control room he was sitting at the desk mixing my voice.  It was such a pleasure to meet him and to be singing in the background as we were introduced was very cool.

Sometime later, I had a call from Stephen saying that Tony was wanting to talk to me about something, very intriguing … Later that day I found out what it was Tony wanted to talk to me about. He asked me if I would sing the songs for TMWSTW concert.  I said yes without thinking at all, what an amazing, and fantastic opportunity.  Later that day I received the full set list for the gig, I’ve been lyric cramming ever since.

What does TMWSTW album mean to you personally?
It’s a very influential album… I was very young, it was around that time I met Martyn and Ian (Heaven 17) we used to put it on after all night parties and drift off to sleep on someone’s floor whilst listening to it.  It was a favourite at the time and I’ve always loved it.

From this success, are there any plans to do any other Bowie albums in the future?
I don’t think it’s the kind of thing I would continue to do, it was fantastic to be asked by Tony Visconti to take part in the recreation of TMWSTW but I’ll have to go back to my day job, there’s a new Heaven 17 album to write.

And finally...what is your favourite Bowie lyric?  All of them.

Maggi Ronson 
Involvement in the band: Backing Vocals and Recorder

What is your favourite Bowie album and why?
TMWSTW of course.  Rats/Ronno meets David Bowie.  Actually Hunky Dory.  Great songs and Michael amazing arrangements and guitar work

How did you get involved with TMWSTW project?
Having the privilege and blessing of being Micks sister I guess and knowing Woody since I was knee high to a grasshopper and of course singing is my passion and singing BVs for Holy Holy is so much fun.  Not forgetting my good friend Major Tom who put it all together

What does TMWSTW album mean to you personally?
TMWSTW was like listening to  The Rats/Ronno Hull band, the one I'd grown up listening to in my childhood meets David Bowie, an extra ordinary individual with amazing songs, lyrics and persona.  All the Madmen is one of my favourite Bowie songs and it was like a whole new world/universe was opening up to me.

And finally...what is your favourite Bowie lyric?
Ziggy played guitar, jamming good with Weird and Gilly and the Spiders from Mars.

Photo reproduced with kind permission (c) Paul Fryer.