A Wednesday night out on the town? How very daring, hey? But don’t be too impressed with me – I bailed out at an un rock n roll 10:30 in order to get home and relieve the babysitter. So this is a pretty uncomprehensive review of the Double R Club’s “Ashes to Ashes” Bowie tribute but it was impressive that we got there at all…so bear with me.
I may have mentioned before how Nathan and I were quite into glamrock as teenagers. And he can still fit into his shiny purple coat and Goblin King-esque shirt but me…I still own that sequin miniskirt from 1999 but I’ve had two kids and aged a fair bit since I last wore it. So, DIY tribute t-shirt it was:
It lost a fair bit of glitter shortly after I made it, when Reuben put his fingers in it to see if it was dry yet. It wasn’t. By the time we left the house, it had lost yet more glitter. Running for the train in an un-Bowie-like way didn’t help. But damn it, we were out of the house and we didn’t even have any kids with us.
We got to the Bethnal Green Working Man’s Club just in time for the show to start. It was packed with beautiful people and Bowies of all eras. I began to feel a little underdressed but it was so dark no-one would be able to see anyway.
The spoken word of “Future Legend” echoed around the room and our host Benjamin Louche stepped out, resplendent in red suit, lightning flash and feather earring. He opened the show by singing “Diamond Dogs” and already we were grinning. Ever since Bowie died, this has been what we needed – to gather with the other freaks and ageing glamrockers and just enjoy the music of the Man Who Fell to Earth.
There was to be a series of scenes from Bowie’s career, in no particular order, but the first was Tricity Vogue’s recreation of Bowie’s very first gig, around a campfire as a scout. Apparently he didn’t really sing “Oh You Pretty Things” as he played the ukulele, but it was ever so cute and Nathan and I have been humming it ever since.
(Incidentally, if anyone has any photos they’d be OK with me using, please get in touch at email@example.com. Among other fails, I failed to take more than one photo of what was really quite a visual night. Look here’s one more for luck…)
I might have the order wrong here but I *think* the next act was Josephine Shaker’s amazing tap dance to “Hello Spaceboy”. Tap is an underused art form nowadays but this girl was easily as good as Vera Ellen in “White Christmas” and that’s saying something. I’m going to give up on trying to remember the order now, but let’s pick out some highlights, like Champagne Charlie getting us all to wave our mobile phone lights as he sang “Time” and then a cheery singalong to “Changes”. And the surreal coat-dance of Rhyannon Styles to “Rock n Roll Suicide”. We’d been primed to expect some flesh on show – it was the “All-Nude Cabaret” that gave it away – and the first bit of nudity came with Lydia Darling’s reinterpretation of the 1996 “Outside” album. I’ll be honest – it was a little disturbing. Not the boobs, but the self-mutilation-as-art. Call me a square, but live bleeding has never been quite my thing. To be fair to her though, self-harming was a pretty 1990s thing to do so she really captured the moment. And it took a while for the menfolk to notice the sharp things sticking out of her arms – apparently boobs are quite distracting.
There was a bit more burlesque before the interval – Bettsie Bon Bon’s cheery take on “Rebel Rebel” and a Goblin King who turned out to be not quite as “blessed” as the movie version. But never let it be said that these performers let their natural disadvantages get in the way of donning skin-tight leggings… On that subject, Abnormalik’s mime routine didn’t quite hit the skin-tightness of the Bowie original but in every other way was a faithful tribute to “The Mask”.
During the interval, I happily stumbled upon an old friend in the basement, which was lovely. But time was ticking on and once interval and raffle were done we didn’t get to see much of the second half unfortunately. We saw another Benjamin Louche number, the short film of “Rock N Roll Suicide”, directed by Nathan Evans and left just as Laurence Owen was on. The babysitter had to up for school in the morning, ysee. I’ve heard that Clifford Slapper was brilliant and I’ve seen a video of the raucous “Starman” encore that looked entertaining but damn it, I’m just not rock n roll anymore.
Luckily for us those, Bowie was…right until the end. And this motley crew of Bowie-lovers really summed up his life’s work with passion, humour and some beautiful music. Thank you Double R Club for making this happen and for raising so much money for Cancer Research. It was a great tribute to a great man. I only hope Major Tom could hear it…