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Marking Time: Holy Holy at The Tower

Mars Blomgren

Mars Blomgren

Maureen "Mars" Blomgren is a writer, photographer, painter, social media overlord. Mars is a loyal servant to her Pekingese named Henry. She's had her work used for album covers, posters, commissioned paintings, branding, merchandise and more. Mars has one of those new-fangled #blendedfamilies that she loves. Mars supports & promotes live music, animals and the truth. She is a proud Philly Girl that will defend the underdog till the end.
Mars Blomgren
Tower Theater Upper Darby, Pennsylvania

Tower Theater Upper Darby, Pennsylvania

Woody Woodmansey’s Holy Holy played The Tower Theater, Philadelphia, PA on April 2, 2016. They arrived after a two-night stint as the house band for the David Bowie Tribute Concerts in New York, playing Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall with the latter concert streamed globally and reported on by major international news outlets.

Woody Woodmansey's Holy Holy Woody and Tony Visconti courtesy of The Official Holy Holy Facebook page.

Woody Woodmansey’s Holy Holy
Woody and Tony Visconti
courtesy of The Official Holy Holy Facebook page.

Being a native Philly gal, one of the things that resonates most with me is music. Philadelphia is a place where many musical stars immersed themselves when creating their art. In the seventies the music scene here was shifting and intermingling with other genres to form what became known as The Sound of Philadelphia. Of the many musicians who loved this town one in particular became an official adopted soul native: David Bowie. During the Diamond Dogs tour in 1974 Bowie came to town and played a short residency at The Tower Theater in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania which eventually became the double live album “David Live: David Bowie Live in Philadelphia”. I believe this was the period when David fell in love with Philly; we certainly were already in love with him. This ongoing love affair led to “Young Americans” being recorded here at Sigma Sound Studios (where the famous Sigma Kids were born). Many will say the concerts he played at the Tower Theater in 1974 on both legs of that tour (the latter becoming affectionately known as The Philly Soul Leg) sealed in the spirit of David within the walls of this historic venue. As someone who has attended hundreds of shows there, I can attest to it. It is always the first thing that comes to mind when I pull up to the venue and see the marquee. No matter which band is playing, in my mind’s eye I always read DAVID BOWIE LIVE. The moment you walk through the doors the vibe is heavy with the energy of everyone who has ever played there, most especially David Bowie, when he was alive and with increased resonance since his death on January 10 2016.

Woody Woodmansey’s Holy Holy performing at this venue was akin to a communion honoring the music of David Bowie. The Tower became a Church of Bowie with an all-star line-up preaching his gospel. Leading the sermon was Woody Woodmansey, legendary Spider from Mars & David Bowie’s drummer from 1970-1973 and Tony Visconti, Bowie’s longtime producer, friend and bass player on The Man Who Sold The World. Holy Holy’s lineup was handpicked by both Visconti and Woodmansey and features Woody Woodmansey on drums, Tony Visconti on bass, guitarist, James Stevenson, (The Cult, Gene Loves Jezebel Gen X) guitarist, Paul Cuddeford (Ian Hunter, Bob Geldof), vocalist, Glenn Gregory  (Heaven 17), keyboardist Berenice Scott (Heaven 17), sax player Terry Edwards and backup vocalist Jessica Morgan.

Jessica Morgan (Tony Visconti’s daughter) warmed up the crowd as the support act for Holy Holy, with a sweet take on Americana mixed with roots and soul. As she ended her set the electricity within the hallowed halls started to build. The air was charged. It felt the same as it does moments before a spring thunderstorm when you can see the lightening striking in the distance. As the road crew loaded the instruments belonging to Holy Holy, the eye of Bowie watched from the head of Woody Woodmansey’s bass drum, as if in approval of everything this band set out and continues to do. It was a little different tonight though, Holy Holy not only brought the music of David Bowie with them, but they also brought his spirit back home to The Tower. Many of us in the audience had a slight idea of what was about to happen, while for some, who sadly never had the chance to see David live, this was as close as they were going to get. Holy Holy was about to lay the real thing on us.

Woody Woodmansey's Holy Holy courtesy of Woody Woodmansey's Holy Holy

Woody Woodmansey’s Holy Holy
courtesy of Woody Woodmansey’s Holy Holy

When Holy Holy started to come out on that stage the entire mood of the audience shifted, we all seemed to sway together, connected by one purpose, to celebrate the life and music of David Bowie. The lights shone on the stage, it glittered, it sparkled, and seemed to come to life. It seemed as if the entire venue awakened, recognizing the music of the man. It was a comforting feeling knowing that even a seemingly inanimate object like a building had feelings and on this night we all were feeling alright.

As Holy Holy began to play TMWSTW they took us on a journey with them. One of David’s least performed live albums; it was sheer joy to hear. The light in all of their eyes as they played was proof they too, were enjoying doing this. I can only imagine how it must feel for them to be on that hallowed ground, to play with the approval of David for all of us here in Philly, the young, the old, the Sigma Kids, the newest fans and everyone in between.

For the next 2 and one half hours Holy Holy played the album The Man Who Sold the World followed by a selection of fan and band Bowie favorites.

The Man Who Sold The World:
The Width of a Circle
All the Madmen
Black Country Rock
After All
Running Gun Blues
Savior machine
She Shook Me Cold
The Man Who Sold the World
The Supermen

Five Years
Soul Love
Moonage Daydream
Medley- (The Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud/All the Young Dudes/Oh You Pretty Things)
Changes
Life On Mars
Ziggy Stardust
Watch That Man
Rock and Roll Suicide
Encores:
Time
Starman
Suffragette City
Starman was not on the set list but was added last moment at the end when the band did not want to stop playing.

Tony Agnello was in the audience. For those of you unaware of the importance of this man regarding how his inventions changed music, Tony Visconti said “The Eventide® H910 Harmonizer fucks with the fabric of time.” David Bowie used this on many albums including Diamond Dogs, Low, Ledger and more.

The Eventide H910 Harmonizer, was first demonstrated to universally positive reactions at the AES show in late 1974. It was designed by Eventide’s first engineer, Tony Agnello (who went on to become the president of Eventide’s audio division). The pre-production prototype was a hand-wired box topped with a music keyboard controller. Jon Anderson of the band Yes was among those impressed, and he became a tester for the first prototype. The production H910 was released in 1975, offering pitch shifting (±1 octave), delay (up to 112.5 ms), feedback regeneration and other features in an easy-to-use box that sold for $1,600. The H910 was named after a Beatles tune (the model number refers to the “One After 909”).

As Holy Holy played TMWSTW it seemed as if time stood still, nothing outside of what was happening right there, right then, existed. All that mattered was that the music of David Bowie was being played live again, lovingly approved by Bowie (long before he passed away) and his music was being performed for his fans, friends and family, the very souls David Bowie connected with since his time began. His music will forever connect all of us for eons to come.

The band was all together and it was alright, in fact, it really was outta sight.

Rosann DiGiallorenzo at The Tower Theater in Philadelphia, PA during Woody Woodmansey's Holy Holy show

Rosann DiGiallorenzo at The Tower Theater in Philadelphia, PA during Woody Woodmansey’s Holy Holy show

Spontaneous tears flowed as the band played. The people swayed in unison. During Life on Mars a complete stranger took my hand and held it tight, he pulled me closer and we danced, sharing our joy, sadness and tears together in that exquisite moment. It wasn’t until later I found out who that stranger was, Per Åke Jansson, Swedish author of “David Bowie in Swedish”, who had traveled to the States just to see Holy Holy play, especially this night at the famous Tower Theater.

Per Åke Jansson at The Tower Theater in Philadelphia, PA during Woody Woodmansey's Holy Holy show

Per Åke Jansson at The Tower Theater in Philadelphia, PA during Woody Woodmansey’s Holy Holy show

There was a 12 year old young lady in the front row named Charlotte who was there with two adult Bowie fans. All three of them danced and sang every song. Charlotte with her Bowie lightning bolt sweater and blue hair was just as happy to be here as the rest of us were because we are a tribe; we all have a connection, a common ground. The music and the man, David Bowie. Watching Charlotte absorb what was happening was thrilling to see, the sparkle in her eyes and smile with each song. When Holy Holy surprisingly played Starman as an encore it seemed as if David was singing through Glenn Gregory directly to her. “Let the children lose it, let the children use it, let all the children boogie”. You could feel just how significant this event was to the audience, to the band and I might go as far as saying to the legend that IS David Bowie.

Let the children boogie. Charlotte at the Tower Theater April 2, 2016 Philadelphia, PA

Let the children boogie.
Charlotte at the Tower Theater April 2, 2016 Philadelphia, PA

Glenn Gregory of Holy Holy and Charlotte sing a spontaneous surprise addition of "Starman" at The Tower Theater in Philadelphia, PA April 2, 2016

Glenn Gregory of Holy Holy and Charlotte sing a spontaneous surprise addition of “Starman” at The Tower Theater in Philadelphia, PA April 2, 2016

 

David may have danced off this mortal coil in January of 2016 but he left behind the most important thing of all, his music and the ability to be whoever we want to be.

David Bowie-The Man Who Sold the World courtesy of Parlophone Records

David Bowie-The Man Who Sold the World courtesy of Parlophone Records

When I tried to relate this entire night to The Chronopages author Emma Connolly she had this to say about Bowie, Holy Holy and how they continue to bring the music live to audiences world-wide. “Watching him (David Bowie) I realize how England can’t produce anything like him again. He stands between worlds, the fin-de-siecle of the cockney Londoner and the new postwar modernity with eyes ghastly open to horror and possibility.

The songs are bigger than ever, the lyrics more poignant, with room for more lives. Teenagers in bedrooms will keep discovering that they can be themselves, turning to face the strange. We know that if our children grow up loving David they might fall in love with another person of the same gender or a different colour; they might wear strange things or they might be totally mainstream but see others doing that. They will be a little more thoughtful, a little less judgmental than they might be. It’s not like so many pressures in life which say ‘you have to strive for this perfect standard’ it’s just saying – here is a way to be imperfect but beautiful.”

Thank you Holy Holy, just thank you for playing his music for all of us.

Woody Woodmansey's Holy Holy

Woody Woodmansey’s Holy Holy

Go see Holy Holy on the road coming to a town near you.

March 31, 2016 Carnegie Hall, @NY
April 1, 2016 Radio City Music Hall, @NY
April 2, 2016 The Tower, @Upper Darby, PA
April 3, 2016 Soundstage @Baltimore, MD
April 5, 2016 House Of Blues @Boston, MA
April 6, 2016 The State Theater. @New Brunswick, NJ
April 7th, 2018 The National @Richmond, VA
April 9, 2016 The Intersection @Grand Rapids, MI
April 10, 2016 House Of Blues @Chicago, IL
April 12, 2016 Pabst Theatre @Milwaukee, WI
April 13, 2016 Fine Line @Minneapolis, MN
April 16, 2016 Uptown Theatre @Kansas, MO
April 17, 2016 Summit Music Hall @Denver, CO
April 19, 2016 Gas Monkey Live @Dallas, TX
April 21, 2016 Fox Theatre @Tuscon, AZ
April 22, 2016 Talking Stick Resort @Scottsdale, AZ
April 23, 2016 The Pearl Theatre At Palms @Las Vegas, NV
April 24, 2016 The Music Box @San Diego, CA
April 26, 2016 Wiltern Theatre @Los Angeles, CA
April 28, 2016 House Of Blues @Anaheim, CA
April 29, 2016 The Fillmore @San Francisco, CA
May 1, 2016 Roseland Theatre @Portland, OR
May 2, 2016 Queen Elizabeth Theatre @Vancouver, CA
May 4, 2016 Grey Eagle Event Centre @Calgary, AB
May 5, 2016 Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium @Edmonton AB
May 8, 2016 Phoenix Concert Theatre @Toronto, ONT
For more info on all things Holy Holy click here:
http://www.holyholy.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/holyholybowie