Today, April 29th, is the 16th anniversary of the death of Hull's rock legend, Mick Ronson; Mick died of liver cancer at the far-too-young age of 46. The story of how he came to work with some of the world's greatest rock musicians is told in this fascinating presentation, featuring some of the people who played a part in his musical journey. The words are from the well-known Bowie song 'Changes' - a word which encapsulates how this talented youngster rejected his council estate background for something better and ended up as one of the best guitarists and arrangers of the 70's and 80's.
The multi-media show includes the writers, Garry Burnett and Rupert Creed with rock musicians (who played with Mick Ronson and David Bowie) Keith 'Ched' Cheeseman, John Cambridge (who introduced Ronson to Bowie) and John Bentley along with film of Mick himself and recordings by Mick's sister, Maggi Ronson, amongst others, reminiscing about Mick's life. The band, augmented with Kristian Eastwood, Bobby Joyce and Rachael Jarvis, play Ronson standards, with Ched Cheeseman doing a 'full' Ronson on 'Moonage Daydream', for which he got a standing ovation. A string quartet and clarinetist ensured 'Life on Mars' and 'Perfect Day' were recreated - well - perfectly! My own favourite rendition was 'The Jean Genie' which was just joyful but there are so many musicians who Mick worked with, and song arrangements which you would never have realised were his, that the show could have gone on all night! As it is, it lasts 3 hours - but they fly by!
The set, staging and lighting were fabulous and the whole evening went far too quickly. It was extra-special that Maggi Ronson herself was in the audience, too. In my view, this story deserves as much exposure as other greats of the musical world (e.g. Freddie Mercury) to show that anything is possible if you have talent - and boy, was Mick talented! Thank goodness his parents were able to provide him with a musical education and Mick was such a personable lad that he was given opportunities to progress. His work ethic was amazing in that he would never forget where he came from, never let anyone down, give others a leg up if he could and continued to work even whilst being treated for cancer. He, and this play, are inspirational!
'Turn and Face the Strange' plays at Hull Truck until May 4th. Tickets available from https://www.hulltruck.co.uk/whats-on/drama/turn-face-the-strange/ or 01482 323638