Gig review: Woody Woodmansey and Tony Visconti’s Holy Holy at O2 Academy Leeds

Tony Visconti and Woody Woodmansey. Picture: Chris Youd
Tony Visconti and Woody Woodmansey. Picture: Chris Youd
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Tony Visconti looks momentarily overcome with emotion.

The veteran American record producer and bass player has waited a long time to perform in all its glory live The Man Who Sold The World, one of a string of classic albums he made with David Bowie.

“Forty-four years,” he announces. “Forty-five,” seasoned drummer Woody Woodmansey corrects him.

“It’s been worth the wait,” he grins and throws open his arms in appreciation as a loud cheer erupts from the auditorium of Leeds Academy.

Flanked by an excellent band that includes two firecracker guitarists in Paul Cuddeford and James Stevenson and an outstanding performance on lead vocals by Glenn Gregory of Heaven 17, this evening manages to be a lot more than an exercise in nostalgia.

There’s real power in a show that brings these long dormant songs to life.

There’s a reminder too of how much the band contributed to the songs, imbuing the likes of Running Gun Blues and She Shook Me Cold with a hard rock dynamic influenced by contemporaries such as Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. Woodmansey’s drumming is notably robust, and guest vocalist Marc Almond injects drama into After All.

The album’s title track might miss the late Mick Ronson’s distinctive lead guitar tone but it does have his daughter Lisa, her cousin Hannah Berridge and Jessica Lee Morgan, daughter of Tony Visconti and Mary Hopkin, on backing vocals.

Gregory gives it all he’s got in superlative rendition of The Supermen, an apocalyptic collision of the philosophy of Fredrich Nietzche and the gothic sci-fi weirdness of H P Lovecraft.

“Can Glenn Gregory sing Bowie?” Visconti enquires. The answer is emphatically yes.

The rest of the evening may be given over to more populist Bowie classics but it’s the welcome revival of The Man Who Sold the World that makes it especially memorable.

Gig date: June 21