At a time when millions of people remain forced to stay home amid strict social distancing measures, we’re exploring some of the most entertaining stories from music history with Far Out Magazine’s ‘From The Vault’ section.
While the premise of nightclubs, music venues and, of course, VIP tables remains nothing but a distant dream during the current crisis, we decided to dip back into the archives to remember the moment indie darlings the Arctic Monkeys unwittingly snubbed the great David Bowie.
Founding duo, drummer Matt Helders and singer Alex Turner, sat down with Jo Whiley during an interview on BBC Radio 2 to discuss some of the momentous moments during the band’s meteoric rise to critical acclaim.
Whiley, mentioning Bowie as part of the conversation, prompted Turner to recall the moment the Starman arrived at an Arctic Monkeys concert in New York and landed himself a primetime viewing spot reserved for family members and special guests — an area Bowie quite rightly had become accustomed to.
Turner, remembering the short exchange with Bowie backstage, allowed Helders to retell a tale of awkward miscommunication: “They had tables up the top for guests and VIP guests and I think Bowie was sat there with whoever he came with,” said Helders.
With demand high for the lucrative seats, Arctic Monkeys roadies knew of family members desperation to get a good spot: “And our tour manager didn’t even realise and he moved him so my brother and his wife could sit there and watch it and have a better view,” Helders explained.
Typically though, Bowie remained humble during the experience: “He didn’t say anything like, ‘I’m David Bowie’ — he just moved politely and then came to say hello afterwards.”
Turner has made no secret of his admiration for Bowie in the past, detailing how his first listening of ‘Moonage Daydream’ inspired his songwriting to take on a more abstract approach. “I suppose the things I’d been writing before I heard this were a lot more [holds hand close to face]. The first Shadow Puppets album lyrically was definitely the first dip of the toe into the abstract for me,” Turner told MOJO previously.
“I recognised that sometimes the lyrics can be just another component along with the melody and the music. You might write a song about a girl you’re in love with, or a comedown, but there’s the space in-between all that that we’re interested in occupying sometimes,” he added when explaining the influence of ‘Moonage Daydream’.
“It’s like casting a shadow on a wall. And it’s like that’s the thing, rather than the object that’s causing the shadow. It’s like a secret, and you’re kind of wrapping it in a sugary shell with imagery.”
You can listen to the the interview with Whiley, here.