Sketch by Keith Fitton
So David Bowie is back at number one. His first album for a decade, “The Next Day” has galloped to the top of the charts, and the musical innovator and fashion icon is once again hot property. It takes me back to a cold February night in 1969 and the historic (now sold to a private developer and made into a hotel!) Free Trade Hall in Manchester. Together with a few of my pals from the Rossendale valley we were really there to see Tyrannasourus Rex, whom had just released “Prophets Seers and Sages…. .. the Angels of the Ages”, their second LP. At that time they were an acoustic duo feted by John Peel, with Marc Bolan on guitar and Steve Peregrine Took on bongos. Peel was present at the concert, there to spin records and host the show. The opening act we had never heard of. Introduced by Peel, he entered the stage accompanied by the loudest music I have ever heard at any gig, bar none. It was a wall of deafening white noise. Dressed in a tutu suit, David Bowie then delivered a stunning mime performance. Whilst he uttered not a word, his theatricality was undeniable. An unforgettable first impression. Then the records; the classic “Hunky Dory” filled with mythical storytelling, fantastic musicianship, sensitivity and craft, it was a record to listen to in a darkened room, or in the back room of a pub, drinking beer and playing darts with your mates. And on and on through the Berlin trilogy, the concept albums, the dance music inspired pieces, the art-nouveau creations and so on to “The Next Day”. Here we have a graceful artist, actor, musician, actor who sails above the ordinary, beyond cliche, or trend. He is a one-off, quintessential English gem. A true national treasure. Let’s dance.