All the gigs of my life

All the gigs of my life: Gig 139 – Holy Holy, Thursday, March 30, 2017, Shepherd’s Bush Empire

My final venture into the world of tribute bands.

Unusually for me, my early 2017 gigging life was marked by a series of tribute shows. First came the Celebrating David Bowie concert in January, and then the Mansun tribute bands at the convention in February. Finally, here was another Bowie tribute show here in March by Holy Holy, performing two classic albums in full. I was particularly keen to see this band as it boasts on drums the one member of the Spiders from Mars still with us, Woody Woodmansey, as well as legendary producer Tony Visconti on bass.

Unfortunately, this show turned out to be probably my least favourite of the year, largely due to the crowd. This was my first venture back to Shepherd’s Bush Empire for several years, and it seemed a much less pleasant place to be than in previous visits. From my diary:

‘Bloody hell! Had I forgotten just how packed Shep Bush Empire gets, or had I never experienced it quite like that, coming in when it’s already full to the brim of middle aged dudes?’

I’ve no objection usually to finding myself in bloke-heavy crowds – it’s pretty much a given as a middle aged gig-goer outside of a Take That show – but this manly crowd was a particularly unpleasant one. First, as I squeezed my way past one bloke in search of the toilets, he leered down at my chest and said ‘thanks for that’. And unfortunately, there was an even worse dude in the crowd that night, the ‘wanker who got pissy and shouty when I suggested he might kindly refrain from leaning on my boobs‘. It’s safe to say that this was the worst gig crowd I have ever found myself in.

The crowd. Can you see any women? No, neither can I.

I managed to find another spot amongst much nicer people and with a good view, but all this unpleasantness did throw me out of the mood for much of the performance of the “Ziggy” album. Happily, the second Bowie album they played was one much closer to my heart, and I was able to enjoy it much more completely.

‘Hooray then for “The Man Who Sold The World”, never did I ever think I’d hear “Width Of A Circle” or “The Supermen” live, sounding so authentically 1971, even the singer was quite reminiscent of the real thing at times, tho’ I’ve no idea who he was.’ (Apparently it was Glenn Gregory from Heaven 17).

This gig was not therefore a complete lost cause. The appearance of “Time” in the encore was another particular treat, and I was glad to have seen Woody Woodmansey: ‘what a sweet and lovely man, and how glad I am, that I’ve been in the presence of the last remaining Spider from Mars.’

But I had one resounding conclusion at the end of this night: ‘I think I’m done with tribute bands for now.’

And I have stuck with that. The three tribute concerts I saw in early 2017 proved fairly resoundingly to me that tribute bands are Not My Thing. What I care about when it comes to live music is hearing the songs I love so much being performed by the artist who created them, and not some random imposters, however proficient they may be. And when it comes to Bowie songs, I am happy to have the memories of the seven amazing shows I saw between 2003 and 2004. They mean far more to me than any tribute act ever could, no matter how star studded.

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