If none of us watching could quite believe we were in the presence of greatness, vocalist Glenn Gregory was on hand to vocalise our joy at this turn of events. “Just to let you know, he was in the Spider from Mars,” he gasped, pointing back over his shoulder at David Bowie’s stalwart drummer from the early ‘70s Mick ‘Woody’ Woodmansey.
Holy Holy, Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow ***
“So you don’t forget, this is real!” he later declared breathlessly, indicating the unassuming bassist on his left. “That is Tony Visconti.” For Gregory – himself a British musical innovator as co-founder and lead singer of Heaven 17 – to be gushing fanboyishly about those sharing a stage with him told us what any Bowie aficionado knew; that these guys really were a big deal at various stages of the singer’s musical life.
Alongside a full band featuring Visconti and singer Mary Hopkin’s daughter Jessica Lee Morgan on guitar and saxophone, and sometime Gen X guitarist James Stevenson on electric lead, Holy Holy opened with an in-order run-through of the single Bowie album on which Woodmansey and Visconti played as rhythm section, 1970’s The Man Who Sold the World. Much like the reasoning behind this gig, this section was for the deep-dive fans predominantly, given that only the title track was a widely-known hit.
What followed was the purest of crowd-pleasing sequences, however, with another full reading, this time of 1972’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars – an album awash with signature Bowie tracks, including Starman and Suffragette City – and an encore featuring Changes and Life On Mars. Only Woodmansey played on all of these originally, but Visconti’s influence was inarguably greater, as evidenced by the appearance of 2013’s latterday Bowie classic Where Are We Now?. A first-rate covers show was enhanced by the presence of those who helped birth this music.