10th January 2016.
The day the world lost the most flamboyant, influential, iconic and trail blazing British singer/songwriter the universe has ever seen. After a career spanning five decades, every music lover I know was devastated by the loss of David Bowie. His music was, and of course still is, instantly recognisable. After his death, our airwaves were inundated with plays of his most famous hits, with no less than 8 of his songs ending up in the January 2016 top 100 UK charts. I never had an opportunity to see Bowie live, I don’t imagine many of you reading this did. By the time I was born, his musical career had already surpassed 10 years.
Fast forward to 17th February 2018.
The Marrs Bar, Worcester.
Bowie Tribute act “Aladdinsane” came to play.
Billed as the greatest Bowie tribute in the UK and beyond, Paul Henderson and his band had big space boots to fill.
Opening aptly with Space Oddity, which was indeed Bowie’s first top 5 entry into the UK singles chart in July 1969, Paul, dressed in simple white shirt and black waistcoat, took to the stage with the famous line of “Ground control to Major Tom” and it became instantly apparent that the billing had been correct. Bowie used his natural baritone singing voice to storytell his songs, often not even trying to hide his heavy English accent. Yet his pitch and range was phenomenal. Paul was recreating that in his opening number, clearly showing years of dedication and real admiration for the man he was portraying. Paul once appeared on Stars in their Eyes, and having seen that performance, which in itself was spot on, its clear to see that since then, Paul has worked away at this persona and its paid off. So, an iconic song to open with, brave almost as its so well known, but absolutely the right choice to reel us in.
After greeting the crowd and announcing it was their first time in Worcester, we were treated to Starman and then into Ashes to Ashes. The guitar is put down and Paul is able to showcase the moves and mannerisms of Bowie, and as the song peaks, the actions are more dramatic, and the whole sound and vision of Bowie that his advertising posters claim to offer, are showcased to their full extent. Although confident and out-going, I often thought Bowie always had a slight awkwardness onstage, which Paul carried out perfectly. The twitch of the head, the stilted but everso dramatic arm movements, it was uncanny.
The tempo raised with a perfect rendition of Fame, fading out to strains of “War, what is it good for?”, exaggerated dance moves only added to the experience we were being treated to. I didn’t know the next two songs, Be My Wife and Boys Keep Swinging but, I have no doubt they were as vocally close to the originals as we’ll ever be lucky enough to hear, but I was soon brought back to familiarity with Let’s Dance and Changes.
The Man who Sold the World and Moonage Daydream led up to the end of the first set, a personal favourite of mine, Life on Mars, delivered impeccably, suitably emotional.
During the interval, I took a moment to look around. My trusty photographer friend L had found out that a fair few people there had travelled from Paul’s home town and surrounding areas, and there was a handful of our own local crowd there. Everyone was buzzing about what they’d seen so far, eagerly waiting for more.
The second set came with an outfit change, more of the ilk of Bowie’s Glam Rock alter ego Ziggy Stardust. “The Jean Genie” from the 1973 album “Aladdin Sane” saw the crowd get on their feet and there they stayed for the rest of the evening. “Ziggy Stardust” and “Stay” led into “Heroes”, which saw Paul come to the front of the stage and the subtle backing music left his impeccable vocals exposed. We were treated to a bit of Sax with a rendition of ” Sorrow”, followed by “Time”. A song I didn’t know, but felt very show tune, and Paul gave a stage show performance, dropping to his knees and giving all the emotion the song called for.
Another crowd pleaser was “China Girl”. By now the dancing crowd were in full swing, and I noticed a girl dancing barefoot with her partner, younger than me but clearly loving the iconic music as much as the older crowd. A woman with long blond hair danced alone, the music clearly running through her veins. Hello Spaceboy, John I’m only Dancing, All the Young Dudes and Queen Bitch followed, taking us to the last song of the night, Rebel Rebel. A rocky tune to dance to, some of the band went out onto the dance floor and the crowd were left wanting more. A short walk off stage led to an encore of White Light/White Heat, another song I didn’t know, but one that I’ll now forever remember.
A repeated line asked “What’s that sound?”.
The sound that night was most definitely Bowie.
Photography by Lissywitch photography