At the 02 Islington, Bowie’s long-standing guitarist Earl Slick and his assembled cast of musicians performed their fourth night of what so far has been a hugely successful run of his mini tour of Station to Station.
The band included Steve Norman from Spandau Ballet on guitar, saxophone and percussion (I saw Steve with Holy Holy in 2014). Also on guitar was Luis Correia, who used to play with the Absolute Bowie tribute act, plus Lisa Ronson on backing vocals and Earl Slick’s son on drums. The concerts were organised before Bowie passed away, and his death gave the performance a certain poignancy – but as Bernard Fowler said, we are here to celebrate a life, not mourn.
Station to Station began with that familiar build up, the steam train rumble leading into Earl Slick’s coruscating guitar and that thrilling and familiar riff. There was a long, heavy intro till Bernard Fowler came on stage, and I did for a few seconds wonder how he would build on this, but from the Thin White Duke intro, it seemed that he was a natural fit. Fowler’s skill lay in his ability to interpret the material in his own way without completely losing Bowie’s spirit, he also managed to – just about – blend in with the other stage performers, although with his magnetic personality and strong stage presence this wasn’t an easy feat.
Wild is the Wind was particularly dramatic, Fowler starting with low key vocals in order to build the song effectively. After StoS the band launched into Diamond Dogs and a bluesy Jean Genie, after which followed a selection of numbers from Fowler’s latest album. We knew that Heroes would conclude the set and it was indeed a powerful version, with Earl Slick giving it his all. A truly wonderful night in which Earl Slick’s band of seasoned musicians communicated their love for Bowie and respect for his music, and it was a pleasure to hear this often-time overlooked album
STATION TO STATION
April 29 2016