Key collaborators, friends and peers contribute their memories of working with a man whose awkward perfectionism reaped great rewards, but not without causing significant collateral damage along the way – his transformation from the folkie-on-the-make of ‘Hunky Dory’ to the emaciated coke fiend of the LA years is terrifying. Bowie himself contributes only through archive interviews, but the clips are smartly chosen if seldom revelatory.
But as a one-stop shop for the great man’s finest moments, ‘Five Years’ is invaluable. The likes of Brian Eno, Robert Fripp and Nic Roeg (whose ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ follows at 10.50pm) compete for best anecdote, but Nile Rodgers wins by a mile with his uproarious tale of Bowie, Billy Idol and barfing in early ’80s NYC. Opaque, intriguing and exhilarating by turns – which is surely just how Dame David would want it.
From Fluid Movement, which brought us Purl and the Worship Street Whistling Shop, VOC occupies a smallish, cosy space in one of north London’s most restaurant-intensive precincts. The name derives from the Dutch East India Company, and there’s a nautical and historical theme to the drinks list. Punches based on old recipes figure large, though modern technology brings them right up to date. Playing it safe with the classics is by no means the inferior option, however, as textbook martinis and caipirinhas proved. It took us a while to get our drinks because of lack of staff behind the tiny bar (barely five feet long), and there’s no table service, so you have to queue. But no one seemed to mind. Interestingly, more people were drinking beer or wine than cocktails, at least on our visit. VOC now has a restaurant too, majoring on grilled meat.
Venue says: “New small plates introductory offers: two dishes for £9 or one small plate plus a drink for £10. Ts&Cs apply.”