David Bowie heads for No 1 and breaks V&A records

The new album and his museum exhibition are both hits – and tour rumours are growing

David Bowie is having a pretty good year, for someone who is "too old to lose it", as he himself once wrote. Bowie, who now qualifies for a pensioner's bus pass, released a surprise single, Where Are We Now?, on his 66th birthday in January.

That was followed by a critically acclaimed video co-starring Tilda Swinton for a second single, The Stars (Are Out Tonight). And when the album from which those songs are taken, The Next Day, was released last week it went straight to No 1 on iTunes. This weekend it is likely to become Bowie's first No1 album in the official UK charts since Black Tie White Noise in April 1993.

For the Victoria and Albert museum, the return of Britain's foremost pop genius to centre stage has spectacularly paved the way for one of its most eagerly awaited exhibitions. Demand for tickets to David Bowie Is … , which opens this week, is breaking all previous records at the museum. More than 42,000 advance tickets for the in-depth retrospective have been sold, more than double the advance sales of previous exhibitions.

David Bowie - The Stars (Are Out Tonight) on MUZU.TV.

The V&A is hoping that international interest in the show, which runs until August, will take off, according to director Martin Roth, who called Bowie "a true icon". The merchandise is already doing a roaring trade, from coffee-table books to the budget range of the V&A Bowie Paper Doll – the "best dress-up fun you'll have with a pair of scissors".

The timing of the exhibition, whose curators have had open access to the David Bowie Archives, is surely no accident, although the release of the new Bowie songs had been described as "the best kept secret in rock" by Rolling Stone. The exhibition opens on Saturday 23 March, and the museum is staying tight-lipped about whether or not the man himself will be attending the preview party on Wednesday.

Curators Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh have gathered more than 300 objects from the archive, include more than 60 of the flamboyant stage costumes that marked Bowie's many theatrical personas from Ziggy Stardust to the Thin White Duke and beyond.

This weekend also sees another retrospective exhibition at the Snap Galleries in London of David Bowie images dating back to 1972 from Japanese photographer Masayoshi Sukita, who took the image for the cover of the album "Heroes".

But while excitement and critical acclaim of the latest Bowie album grow, the big question is whether or not we will see a 66-year-old Bowie on stage.

The star's album producer and long-time studio collaborator Tony Visconti has previously rubbished reports that the singer could tour.

"He made that very clear to the label that he wasn't going to tour or do any kind of ridiculously long album promotion," he said in January. "I spoke to him two days ago and he said, 'I'm really adamant I'm not gonna do a tour.' And he said, 'If I might, I might do one show.' But who knows when?"

But Bowie's wife, businesswoman and model Iman Abdulmajid, appeared to hint that a tour might be on the cards in an interview to a magazine journalist last week, saying: "We have a 12-year-old [daughter, Alexandria] in school, so we are stuck, we can't travel. Our schedule is around her, so I don't know.

"We'll have to go visit him, but we won't be on tour with him because she's in school."


Tracy McVeigh

The GuardianTramp

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