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Review: Absolute Bowie at The Square

Lifestyle / Mon 23rd Jan 2017 at 03:22pm

Review by Ian Fish, UK Heir

“Absolute Bowie” at The Square, Harlow was a sobering affair. No, not seriously sensible and solemn – for some of us it’s Dry January you see. The evening which began clearly rooted in the early seventies didn’t have to be laden with alcohol or anything wacky to be appreciated.

Given that the sad demise of the musical genius last year has meant that we have all been recently treated to videos of concerts, backstage footage and interviews with the man himself, John O’Neill (David Bowie) was always going to struggle to please everyone. However, if the atmosphere at The Square was anything to go by O’Neill and his four Spiders did a fab job.

First up was “Space Oddity” and to be honest I wasn’t immediately blown away by O’Neill’s performance. Bowie’s early influences, seldom reflected upon, may have drawn on mime, but some of his moves veered almost towards pantomime. His pouting and frozen tableaux’s suggested someone who had studied the photo archives rather than the subtle nuances of the artist.

Nevertheless, there was something captivating that oozed from the ensemble as they rocked through Hunky Dory, Aladdin Sane and by the time Ziggy played guitar, jamming good with Weird and Gilly, I think pretty much everyone knew we had a great evening on our hands.

There were a number of long costume changes for the main man which allowed us to enjoy the accomplished skills of the band notably Chris Buratti (Mick Ronson) who treated us to the high instrumental points of “Low”.

In the second half of the evening, O’Neill seemed more relaxed as we ventured fleetingly into the ’80’s for “Let’s Dance” and “China Girl” but overall the evening was rooted firmly in the ’70’s which certainly suited this punter.

Tickets were sold out for this gig weeks ago. O’Neill kept assuring the audience he’d be back to play The Square again to be met with mixed bewilderment. Clearly he hadn’t been briefed. The Square is set to close at the end of this month and without wanting to open a can or worms I don’t know anyone happy about that.

Bowie explicitly, though with typical ambiguity, quit the music scene on more than one occasion only to hibernate and re-emerge as a new entity to challenge, amaze and entertain. That’s what I hope for The Square. That the appreciation of good music and the determination to share it in Harlow lives on and if it needs to be reinvented Bowie showed us that’s no bad thing.

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