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Memories of David Bowie’s Norwich visits are re-lived as unexpected new material delights fans of veteran music star

06:30 09 January 2013

The many faces of David Bowie. Graphic: Annette Hudson.

The many faces of David Bowie. Graphic: Annette Hudson.

Archant

Music star David Bowie has broken years of silence and speculation by unexpectedly releasing his first single and album in a decade.

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The glam-rock singer, who shot to fame in the late 60s with Space Oddity, has released the recording Where Are We Now? to coincide with his 66th birthday.

A follow-up album called The Next Day is now set to be released in March and has caused much excitement among his hoardes of fans around the world.

The excitement has reached Norfolk as well, where Bowie has plenty of links, having sung the lyric “from Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads” in one of his most famous song, Life on Mars.

There is also a Norwich Heritage and Economic Regeneration Trust (Heart) plaque outside the former Orford Cellar in Red Lion Street, Norwich to comemmorate his performance there during the 1960s.

Along with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton and Elton John, Bowie is referenced in the plaque as one of the star names to have performed at the city centre venue.

Kingsley Harris, of the Norwich-based East Anglian Music Archive, said: “Many legendary artists played the Orford Cellar in Norwich, including David Bowie and the Buzz on September 10, 1966.

“At one point, before his Bowie days, he changed his name to David Jay, inspired by Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers who were formed at Norwich City College.

“He loved the act and it’s also true that he took to wearing brightly coloured suits in his early 80s tours – another Jaywalkers inspired idea as they all wore brightly coloured suits.”

Produced by long-term collaborator Tony Visconti, Where Are We Now? was written by Bowie, and was recorded in New York, where he was last reported to be living with his wife and daughter.

The single is accompanied by a video directed by Tony Oursler which harks back to Bowie’s time in Berlin, with his face projected onto the body of a puppet.

Mr Harris added: “David Bowie is a visionary. One of the first big stars to embrace the digital world which has seen him double his wealth. He is an artist of the highest calibre. He is the biggest art-rock star in the world.

“He has no trouble reinventing himself and has the fanbase to do it successfully. Long live Bowie!”

Bowie also performed at Norwich Theatre Royal on May 21, 1973, where Peter Steward was one of the lucky people to get a ticket, to review the second of Bowie’s shows at the venue that day for the Evening News.

Mr Steward, now 60 and living in Hethersett, listened to Bowie’s new track “probably 15 times” yesterday and is excited to see an artist he has seen perform live several times returning to his songwriting roots.

Describing Bowie’s 1973 visit, Mr Steward said: “He was a big name by that point, all the Ziggy Stardust stuff had come out. Norwich was at the cutting edge of the arts then, and it still is to some extent, but it was extremely exciting to have Bowie in the city.

“I think I saw his second show and I think his voice was actually a bit off and he had a bit of a throat problem.

“But if my memory serves me right, I think I remember Deep Purple, Bowie and Monty Python’s Flying Circus were all in Norwich that week, so that was three huge acts at the time!”

The new director of Norwich Arts Centre, Pasco Kevlin, is just one of the many Norfolk Bowie fans excited to her the musician’s new material.

Mr Kevlin said: “I remember reading that Bowie turned down Danny Boyle, who invited him to contribute to the Olympics opening ceremony and thinking that was probably it, one of my heroes has retired.

“Bowie was always keen to push the boundaries between art and popular culture, to embrace the unexpected, inspiring generations of artists and fans to go out there and experiment, he would be missed.

“Where Are We Now?, released on his 66th birthday, is a lovely song, reflective, reassuring, and still questioning.

“I am really looking forward to the album release in March and know that it will be full of surprises.”

Watch the video of Bowie’s new track above.

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