David bowie

A David Bowie doc like no other: Moonage Daydream reviewed

Moonage Daydream is a music documentary like no other, which is fitting as the subject is David Bowie. If it’s David Bowie, make it special or just don’t bother. And this is special. It’s an immersive, trippy, hurtling, throbbing two hours and 15 minutes. If Disneyland did a Bowie ride, this would be it. Yet it isn’t shallow. There are some real insights. Bowie was cool and sexy and beautiful, but also somehow aloof and otherworldly, an enigma, never everyday. I can imagine Paul McCartney at home and I can imagine Mick Jagger at home. But I have never been able to imagine David Bowie at home, turning to Iman

The day I caught the train with David Bowie

Not long after being diagnosed with cancer, David Bowie reportedly made a secret trip to London to say his farewells. One of his stops was No. 4 Plaistow Grove, a modest terraced house in the heart of suburbia where he grew up, having moved there in 1955. I knew the house well. It was five minutes down the road from our home, which stood in a private lane alongside the golf course, in the village of Sundridge Park. Here, Davy lived with his mum Peggy and dad John. Back in the early sixties, heady rock and rolls days even in Bromley, it was clear that Bowie – or Davy Jones,

How ‘ACAB’ links David Bowie and BLM

A favourite piece of graffiti to spray on the Cenotaph or the plinth of Churchill’s nearby statue is ACAB. It stands for ‘All coppers are bastards’, though Americans substitute the word cops for coppers. In graffiti form it is sometimes rendered 1312, from the place of the letters in the alphabet. As a slogan, ACAB was taken up by Black Lives Matter. In an Independent comment piece, Victoria Gagliardo-Silver declared that ‘ACAB means every single police officer is complicit in a system that actively devalues the lives of people of colour’. It has come a long way from an uncontroversial statement among the criminal classes of my youth in the

The festivalisation of TV

The Glastonbury festival has undergone a series of metamorphoses in the 31 years since I first attended as a 15-year-old fence hopper (as, indeed, have I, thank heavens). One of the most significant changes, to pillage Gil Scott-Heron’s famous prophecy, is that the evolution has been televised. Back in 1989, if your boots weren’t on the ground — often a quagmire, though not that year — you missed out on all the fun. This has not been the case for aeons. Television coverage of Glastonbury began on Channel 4 in 1994, switching to the BBC three years later. In recent times, the Beeb has sent its staff in numbers comparable

Taxonomy reaches celebrity heights

Heteropoda davidbowie is a species of huntsman spider. Though rare, it has been found in parts of Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and possibly Thailand. (The uncertainty arises because it’s often mistaken for a similar-looking species, the Heteropoda javana.) In 2008 a German collector sent photos of his unusual looking ‘pet’ to Peter Jäger, an arachnologist at the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt. Consequently, and in common with most other living finds, David Bowie’s spider was discovered twice: once in the field, and once in the collection. Bowie’s spider is famous, but not exceptional. Jäger has discovered more than 200 species of spider in the past decade, and names them after politicians,

Arctic Monkeys: Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

Grade: B+ Oh, terrific — a concept album about a 1970s hotel somewhere in space, plus an attack on our over-technologised world. Just what I wanted. There is no restraint on self-indulgence if you have a sufficiently remunerative back catalogue. This is also a Bowie tribute album, which fits in nicely with all that outer-space business. I have never heard any performer clamber so comprehensively into the skin of a dead rock star as Alex Turner does with Bowie here, in the writing and even more so in the mannered singing with its characteristic falsetto swoops. This is pure Bowie from the era between The Spiders of Mars and David

Daft celebrity mourners have made 2016 the year of the ‘Tearleader’

Despite my ‘difficult’ reputation, I am a cheery cove in real life, all the more so as I get older. But in true Dorian Grey style, I only stay this way by letting my intolerant side rule the roost on Facebook. Every morning my hot little hands positively itch to unfollow, defriend and block: a day which passes without binning a few dim bulbs is a day wasted. I’ve had an especially good run of it this year, as two things in particular have acted as cracking prompts for my ‘negging‘ narrative. One has been the showing of bad attitude on the part of many Remain-supporting mates. I don’t expect

Rock’s quiet right-wingers

They will be sitting there right now, listening tearfully to the song for one last time on their dinky little iPods, before deleting it for ever. ‘-Heathcliff — it’s me, Cathy, I’ve come home, so co-wo-wo-wold, let me into your window.’ No, Kate. You are never coming in through our windows again. What about the cuts? What about the refugees? What about Brexit? How could you? The window is closed, double-glazed and with a mortice lock. ‘Wuth-ering Heights’ — which once I loved — is dead to me. Also that one about going up a hill or something. That’s gone too. Die, Bush, die. They are strange people, and perhaps

Space oddity

One of David Bowie’s last works, Lazarus, is a musical based on Walter Tevis’s novel The Man Who Fell to Earth. Enda Walsh has written the script. The lead character, Newton, is a derelict celebrity addicted to gin who occupies a big brown apartment full of bickering attendants. It’s unclear who or what Newton is. Human or alien? Something in between? His ontological status is a further puzzle. He may be alive, dead, half-dead, non-dead, half-undead or semi-not-quite-half-unalive. This is a problem, dramatically. A character who exists outside the mortal realm can’t make choices or perform actions that affect himself and others. He’s not a personality, therefore, just a puzzle

1966 and all that

In the song ‘All the Young Dudes’, David Bowie gamely tried to reassure the youth of the Seventies that, despite what their Sixties elders were always telling them, they hadn’t been born too late after all. On the contrary: it was the ‘brother back at home with his Beatles and his Stones’ who was missing out. Sadly, for those of us growing up at the time, even Bowie at his most thrilling wasn’t quite as persuasive as we’d have liked. OK, so it was definitely annoying to be surrounded by people banging on about how great the Sixties were. But once we’d heard the music, there was an uncomfortable sense

Fringe benefits | 30 June 2016

‘How do we feel about leaving the EU today? Who doesn’t give a fook?’ yelled Oli Sykes of Sheffield’s Bring Me The Horizon — instantly becoming my favourite act of this year’s Glastonbury Festival. Sorry, I’m just not buying the line put out by the Guardian, the BBC, Damon Albarn and the rest of the wankerati that the crowds were bummed out by the referendum going the wrong way. Most of the 160,000 revellers had more pressing matters to consider like: Adele or New Order; long queue for the shower or not bother; samosa or falafel; cider or reefer or both; and — of course — how to negotiate the

Gay tittle-tattle

The Comintern was the name given to the international communist network in the Soviet era, advancing the cause wherever it could. The ‘Homintern’, a wry play on that, was first coined at Oxford by Maurice Bowra and gladly passed on by Cyril Connolly, Auden and others, inferring an international homosexual network of mutual interest and support. Gregory Woods, in his very first sentence, defines it thus: ‘The Homintern is the international presence of lesbians and gay men in modern life.’ A few pages later he says: ‘There was no such thing as the “Homintern”.’ So which is it to be? And what does Woods mean by ‘modern life’? The opening

‘So quick and chancy’

When asked the question ‘What is art?’, Andy Warhol gave a characteristically flip answer (‘Isn’t that a guy’s name?’). On another occasion, however, he produced a more thoughtful response: ‘Does it really come out of you or is it a product? It’s complicated.’ Indeed, it’s those complications that make Warhol’s works compelling, as is demonstrated by a new exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. One is that it is hard to tell how much he was really in control. When you look at one of his pictures, are you really looking at the work of his assistants or, indeed, of chance? And the way he forces you to think about

High life | 21 January 2016

The death of David Bowie — how is it that Stephen Glover always gets it right about our over-reaction and hysteria when a pop star goes the way of all of us? — triggered a memory of something that happened long ago with Iman, his still beautiful widow. It was exactly 30 years ago, on a rainy and cold night in New York. But first, a brief background to the story. In the winter of 1985 the mother of my children had taken them to Paris, to her mother’s, as a warning to me that my constant womanising would no longer be tolerated. At the same time, an English friend

David Bowie had sex with underage girls. Is that creepy or cool?

Though I adored David Bowie as a teenybopper, I felt that one would have had to have a heart of stone not to laugh at the lush smorgasbord of lachrymosity that accompanied his death earlier this week. I said as much in a short blog on these very pages. Soon I was trending on Twitter, and from the comments you’d have thought that I’d shot, cooked and eaten Shergar the Racehorse. But I stand by what I said. Like Princess Diana and Nookie the Bear before him, Bowie was not some selfless saint; he was a sharp-eyed, ambitious creature who once floated himself on the Stock Market in the 1990s,

Portrait of the week | 14 January 2016

Home David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said that, on Britain’s place in the European Union, ‘what I would like to see is a deal in February, then a referendum that would follow’. The pound sank to its lowest against the US dollar since 2010, after Britain’s manufacturing sector shrank unexpectedly by 0.4 per cent in November. BP said it was cutting 4,000 jobs round the world, 600 of them from its North Sea operations. A split in the Anglican Communion over homosexuality ‘would not be a disaster, but it would be a failure’, said the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, as 38 primates met at Canterbury. Trains

Rod Liddle

Bowie once praised Adolf Hitler… but he was always changing his tune

[audioplayer src=”http://rss.acast.com/viewfrom22/projectfear/media.mp3″ title=”Rod Liddle and Kaite Welsh discuss David Bowie’s legacy” startat=678] Listen [/audioplayer]I was desperately worried that you hadn’t read or heard enough platitudinous drivel about David Bowie — and therefore felt compelled to weigh in with my own observations. In all honesty I haven’t heard so much repetitive, imbecilic guff since Mandela shuffled off this mortal coil. It was even worse than the confected sobfest that greeted the passing of the charming and likeable Lou Reed. The eulogies for Lou were simply a case of the BBC telling everybody that they are dead hip and edgy, really enjoyed ‘Perfect Day’ and once knew someone, back in uni, who

The Spectator Podcast: Cameron’s ‘Project Fear’, David Bowie’s politics and Brighton’s Brideshead set

In this week’s issue, James Forsyth reveals the strategy that David Cameron will use to campaign for Britain to stay in the EU. He’ll campaign not just on the economics, but on security – arguing that Britain is safer as part of the EU collective: safer from the Russians, safer from terrorism. Isabel Hardman, the new presenter of the Spectator podcast, is joined by James and Fraser Nelson to discuss the implications of such a strategy. Much of the week’s news has been overshadowed by the death of David Bowie. But what exactly made Bowie such an important figure? In his column this week, Rod Liddle argues that it’s simply because he was a terrific

Ed West

There’s nothing wrong with public grieving

One of the things that repeatedly comes up with David Bowie fans talking about their hero is how much he meant to people living in small towns or suburbs. For adolescents who felt confined by stuffy suburban mores and maybe felt themselves a bit different, Bowie must have felt like a lifeline. Personally I grew up in bohemian west London and many of my parents’ friends were easily as weird as Bowie, if not quite so cool or well-dressed. I liked Bowie when I was 16 and 17, but I can see why for some people he meant a lot. Whenever a celebrity dies there follows a certain outpouring of

David Bowie, 1947 – 2016: the only Englishman to have landed on the moon

David Bowie has died at the age of 69. In 1972, Duncan Fallowell was quick to highlight his merits in The Spectator’s pop column: I am writing about David Bowie, and had originally intended to do so by jotting down on pieces of paper all the appropriate epithets and phrases, putting them into a silver top hat, shaking it all about, you know, selecting them at random and typing out the results with a dash between each. It began as follows: Deciduous/carnivorous — sleeve as tattooed prophylactic — erectile lyric, retractile music — car mechanic catamite — henna in the works — lurex (that word contains everything) — butch drag