Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Lazarus

A year on from his death, I celebrated David Bowie's life by having a bit of a themed weekend.


On Saturday, I travelled to the Kings Cross Theatre and watched Lazarus; the musical that Bowie had been working on in New York in the months leading up to his death. Having transferred to the UK, this version shared the premiere's leading man - Michael C Hall - although the production is winding down, and due to close in just over a week.


It's been extremely popular. So, I considered myself very lucky when a single ticket came up for it last month, at a very reasonable £35. I'm glad I go to go, especially to see this version of the play - with the same cast and crew that Bowie originally worked alongside. Any future version of the production just won't be the same - as if Bowie guided this one, and gave it his seal of approval.

But what was it actually like? Hmm. I loved the songs, how they were used, and how they were interrupted/incorporated into the narrative. The actual story was a little New York art scene for my tastes (although not bad, just... a tad pretentious) - but it's hard to fault a production when the entire cast and crew are giving it their all, and it shows.


Later on Saturday evening BBC 2 premiered a documentary called David Bowie: The Last Five Years. It was an intimate portrayal of Bowie at a time where he was working on Lazarus, and the albums The Next Day and Blackstar. It was refreshing to see some behind the scenes footage of Bowie from a 2004 tour, looking very relaxed, and joking quite a lot. So much of what we saw of him was Bowie sat intensely stern in interviews, that this brought a more human Bowie to the foreground.

Afterwards they played the movie The Man Who Fell To Earth, which I had never properly seen before. Which might have helped before seeing Lazarus, as the musical acts as a semi-sequel to the film. D'oh! Oh well. I liked it for what it was - a surreal, beautifully shot slice of 1970s cinema. It's hard to connect to the film emotionally - but perhaps that's the point? Bowie is marvellously weird throughout it, and it's hard to take your eyes off of him.


Sunday brought a reunion with my friend Dan O'Connor who had, coincidentally, journeyed down from Manchester to watch Lazarus. He's seen it before, so we got to talk about the show in depth - what worked/didn't, how well the songs were used, what it meant, etc. We also had a bit of a catch up about my comic strips. Dan seemed pleased for me, which was nice.


As he headed off inside the theatre, I left him again - eager to commute home before the Tube strike started. As I did so, I rounded off my Bowie themed weekend by getting my iPod out and - for the first time in 2017 - listening to a number of my favourite Bowie tracks.

I couldn't post this last year, as I wasn't writing in 2016, but here is a great rendition of Ashes to Ashes that I remember seeing at the BBC Proms: Tribute to Bowie concert:

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