“Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes” at the Brighton Centre

Posted On 19 Dec 2020 at 1:40 am

Absolute Bowie live at the Brighton Centre 18.12.20 (pic Ian Bourn Photography) (click on pic to enlarge!)

ABSOLUTE BOWIE – BRIGHTON CENTRE 18.12.20

“Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, Turn and face the strange” – an apt statement indeed, as this evening the Brighton Centre with the assistance of Black Rabbit Productions, hosted a successful socially distanced concert performance by Absolute Bowie.

This was our first return to the Brighton Centre during these worrying Covid times and customer health and safety was the top priority. Thus the normal 4,500 capacity was greatly reduced and only the main arena area was open to lucky punters. The upstairs was totally shut and the eager concert goers were seated downstairs at distanced tables (cabaret style) with a maximum of four people on each. Drinks were ordered via an app and served directly to each table. The bars were shut and there was a one-way system in operation throughout the cavernous popular venue. The Brighton Centre staff were all very helpful and efficient.

Absolute Bowie live at the Brighton Centre 18.12.20 (pic Ian Bourn Photography) (click on pic to enlarge!)

There were no giant banks of speakers as to be honest they weren’t required. The lighting was ample. Sadly, for obvious reasons, people were not allowed to stray from their seats, other than for comfort breaks and so the consequence this evening was much chair wiggling and rocking to the two Absolute Bowie sets. OK so it’s not the same as before with the hordes all squashed together toe to toe just like they were at last year’s Absolute Bowie concert at the Concorde 2 on 22nd December 2019, but sadly these are new times. We should just thank everyone involved who has collaborated together in order to bring us Brighton folk a much needed live music boost!

To be perfectly honest, I’m not usually a fan of ‘tribute acts’ as I prefer to watch the real thing! However as The Thin White Duke signed off on 10th January 2016, this is certainly no longer possible – Thank God I saw him live at the Birmingham NEC on his final tour in 2003. But this certainly does not detract that John O’Neill is a most convincing Bowie. The band were the Winners of the ‘Best Bowie Tribute’ and ‘Best Tribute Band in the UK’ as announced at the Agents Association of Great Britain Awards in July 2018. So when people ask me “What was it like?”, my standard reply has become “There are tribute acts, and then there’s Absolute Bowie!”.

Absolute Bowie live at the Brighton Centre 18.12.20 (pic Ian Bourn Photography) (click on pic to enlarge!)

I’m sure many punters recall their previous Brighton concert, which was at the Concorde 2, as at the very end of the band’s excellent performance, the keyboard player, Alex Paolillo, sprung a life changing surprise on his girlfriend, Jane, when he produced a ring and got down on one knee and said “Jane Zeopolous will you marry me?”……..the reply “Definitely yes! Yes yes yes yes I would love to!”. The packed multi-generational crowd went wild!

This evening, there were no proposals, but the crowd warmed to their two sets of Bowie numbers, curated from his ‘Golden Years’ material, which was originally released from 1969 to 1983.

The personnel performed 22 tunes in total and on stage this evening were John O’Neill (vocals/12 string guitar) as David Bowie, Andy Marr (guitar) as Mick Ronson, Alex Face (drums) as Woody Woodmansey, Eric Guy (bass) as Herbie Flowers, and Alex Paolillo (keyboards) as Rick Wakeman.

Not only does frontman John make himself look and sound like ‘glam years’ and ‘pop years’ Bowie, but he moves exactly like him too. It is very convincing. I, myself, have been a Bowie fan since hearing ‘Space Oddity’ back when I was a little lad, and am aware of many videos of him. It’s obvious that John is too and has no doubt spent thousands of hours mimicking them to great success! He’s choreographed every movement.

Absolute Bowie live at the Brighton Centre 18.12.20 (pic Ian Bourn Photography) (click on pic to enlarge!)

Absolute Bowie’s first dozen song set spanned from the glam years of 1970 to 1974. It was vintage Bowie. They began with ‘Diamond Dogs’, running through to a great version of ‘Life on Mars?’. Other standout tracks were ‘The Jean Genie’ and ‘All The Young Dudes’.

After a 20 to 25 minute interlude and costume change for the band, set two commenced with ‘Modern Love’, which was followed by ‘Young Americans’ and ‘Fame’. There’s such a plethora of material that can be raided, it must be a nightmare in choosing which delights to perform. Track four of set two being a point in question. This was ‘Look Back In Anger’ (from the 1979 ‘Lodger’ album) and a tune I hadn’t heard the band perform before at their previous concerts. I honestly really enjoyed it, but not everyone on my table did. For me it was one of the best tunes all night, but this time around the award for that goes to ‘Rebel Rebel’ as they nailed it.

I would really love them to add any of the following tracks for my next encounter with them:
‘Silly Boy Blue’ (from 1967 self titled ‘David Bowie’ album)
‘Sorrow’ (from 1973’s ‘Pinups’)
‘Golden Years’ (from 1976’s ‘Station To Station’)
‘Warszawa’ (from 1977’s ‘Low’)
‘Jump They Say’ (from 1993’s ‘Black Tie White Noise’)
‘Hallo Spaceboy’ (from 1995’s ‘1.Outside’)
‘Little Wonder’ (from 1997’s ‘Earthling’)
‘Heathen (The Rays)’ (from 2002’s ‘Heathen’)
Where Are We Now?’ (from 2013’s ‘The Next Day’)

Absolute Bowie live at the Brighton Centre 18.12.20 (pic Ian Bourn Photography) (click on pic to enlarge!)

However, this evening’s setlists reads:
(Part One)
‘Diamond Dogs’ (found on the 1974 ‘Diamond Dogs’ David Bowie album)
‘The Man Who Sold The World’ (found on the 1970 ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ David Bowie album)
‘Changes’ (found on the 1971 ‘Hunky Dory’ David Bowie album)
‘Panic In Detroit’ (with drum solo) (found on the 1973 ‘Aladdin Sane’ David Bowie album)
‘Moonage Daydream’ (found on the 1972 ‘The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars’ David Bowie album)
‘Ziggy Stardust’ (found on the 1972 ‘The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars’ David Bowie album)
‘Suffragette City’ (found on the 1972 ‘The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars’ David Bowie album)
‘The Jean Genie’ (found on the 1973 ‘Aladdin Sane’ David Bowie album)
‘Queen Bitch’ (found on the 1971 ‘Hunky Dory’ David Bowie album)
‘All The Young Dudes’ (found on the 1974 ‘David Live’ David Bowie album)
‘Starman’ (found on the 1972 ‘The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars’ David Bowie album)
‘Life on Mars?’ (found on the 1971 ‘Hunky Dory’ David Bowie album)

(Part Two)
‘Modern Love’ (found on the 1983 ‘Let’s Dance’ David Bowie album)
‘Young Americans’ (found on the 1975 ‘Young Americans’ David Bowie album)
‘Fame’ (found on the 1975 ‘Young Americans’ David Bowie album)
‘Look Back In Anger’ (found on the 1979 ‘Lodger’ David Bowie album)
‘China Girl’ (found on the 1983 ‘Let’s Dance’ David Bowie album)
‘Ashes To Ashes’ (extended version) (found on the 1980 ‘Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps’) David Bowie album)
‘Let’s Dance’ (extended version) (found on the 1983 ‘Let’s Dance’ David Bowie album)
‘Rebel Rebel’ (found on the 1974 ‘Diamond Dogs’ David Bowie album)
(encore)
‘Space Oddity’ (found on the 1969 ‘David Bowie’ David Bowie album)
‘“Heroes”’ (found on the 1977 “Heroes” David Bowie album)

Find out more about Absolute Bowie HERE.

Gig flyer

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