It was always going to be an historic event. The last Spider From Mars plays the birthplace of Ziggy. I was too young to ever see David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust back in the early 1970’s, but this album, The rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars, was always special to me. It was the first album I ever bought (off a boy in my class for £1.50) and it is still in my top three of all-time favourite Bowie albums. Holy Holy are no tribute band. Woody Woodmansey is the original drummer from The Spiders From Mars and he plays drums alongside legendary producer Tony Visconti, who plays bass. And with Glenn Gregory from Heaven 17 on vocals, you know this is a band of talent and a genuine love for the music of David Bowie.
The thought of this gig sent shivers down my spine. I was genuinely excited. I had bought tickets for both my sons to accompany me (yes, I have brought them up right!) and we were first row of the circle on a VIP package which includes snacks and quite a lot of alcohol. There was an excited buzz as you walked into Waterside Theatre. We got there early and met with friends who have travelled from all over the country to this gig. It was not only myself that considered it special.
The support was Jessica Lee Morgan and she came on and with just a guitar and a fellow musician and performed a set of original songs that had a folky feel. Really lovely words and well written tunes made this a very enjoyable set. Jessica has a beautiful voice and really engaged with the crowd. Although she is the daughter of Legendary producer, Tony Visconti, she doesn’t need to rely on his name – she is a bright talent in her own right. Absolutely worth buying her albums. After her set, there was a 20-minute break before the main event. There was a tangible level of excitement in the room. A real buzz. This was going to be a gig that you remember for years to come.
They came on to Beethoven’s ninth symphony, the track that Bowie originally came on to as Ziggy as he was inspired by the film, A Clockwork Orange. Shivers again. And then the band were altogether and opened with Width Of A Circle. This was a stroke of genius as although they were to play the complete album of The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust, Five Years (the first track on the album) is slow and thoughtful. Width Of A Circle rocked and everyone was really enjoying it. That got the crowd going to sing along to Five Years, Soul Love, Hang On To Yourself and all the other fabulous tracks. Life is never perfect and unusually the band made a couple of mistakes – for example they started Star again as the timings were out. This happens sometimes and Glenn has been suffering with a sore throat. I know when I am poorly there is no way I could go on stage and belt this album out so I have so much respect for him for doing it. He joked to the crowd for them to delete any video footage of it. He also missed ‘Wham Bam – Thank you ma’am’ from Suffragette City but besides these two slight mis-haps – the set was phenomenal. It really was one of the best set lists I have ever heard. It’s not often you get to hear ‘It Ain’t Easy’ and the ‘Medley Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud/All The Young Dudes / Oh You Pretty Things’ live from an original spider from mars! Woody is awesome and beats the drum like no one else. He is obviously enjoying himself. And alongside him is Tony Visconti, Legendary Producer who produced many of David Bowie’s albums including Blackstar, it just felt right. This is the true legacy of Bowie; this is the best way of celebrating his music. This is absolutely joyous. Holy Holy have other extremely talented musicians in their band. There are two amazing guitarists, Paul Cuddeford and James Stevenson. There is Berenice Scott on keyboards, and the hardest working girl in the music industry, Jessica Lee Morgan playing Sax. This is no ordinary band. This is a band who all love Bowie and his music and play it respectfully and with a passion. There is no sight of a glam rock outfit or glitter make up in sight. This is how it should be. Talented musicians playing the best music in the world. (Can you tell I’m a fan yet?). Glenn tells us that Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide is one of his favourites. The way he sings it – I believe him. It’s also one of mine and last year I had ‘cause you’re wonderful tattooed on my wrist. What a positive affirmation that is.
This was an astonishing performance in a very special town. Bowie is loved so much here that a statue will be erected in his honour later this year. Woody gets out from behind his drums to talk to us. He acknowledges both Mick Ronson and Trevor Bolder as well as Bowie and tells us how he was here in Aylesbury trying out Hunky Dory as well as Ziggy Stardust back in the early 1970’s. At the end of the night Woody Woodmansey, Tony Visconti and Holy Holy were all presented with an award. And rightly deserved too.
This gig was also special to me personally as it’s the first Holy Holy gig that both my sons have attended. Having them singing along with me to the songs made it really special. And my eldest son’s face dropped in shock when Glenn Gregory sees me in the circle and says ‘Hello Jasmine’. What a wonderful moment to treasure.
Overhearing a couple of women on the way out one says, that was the best guitar she has ever heard. It gave her shivers (see – it’s not just me!) Neither had seen Holy Holy before.
Woody is not only an awesome musician, but a genuinely nice person too. He takes time after each show to meet with the fans. And everyone please wish June Woodmansey (his wife) a happy birthday as she was manning the merchandise stand on her birthday which was the night of this gig. See… it’s not all rock n roll!
Width Of A Circle
It Isn’t Easy
Hang On To Yourself
Rock n Roll Suicide
Life On Mars
Black Country Rock
The Man Who Sold The World
Watch That Man