There is a happy land where only Bowie fans play…and this weekend it was in Derby for the annual Bowie convention. This David Bowie convention is where fans get their fix of all things David Bowie and being in need of such a fix I went along to find out more. There is an amazing array of Bowie art on sale plus videos, DVDs, t-shirts, badges and a raffle where you can win some ‘Money can’t buy’ prizes. The fantastic two-day event attracts fans from all over the world and I got to meet like-minded fans from France, Italy and Australia. This is really an international event!
The line up was fabulous with a jam-packed schedule for everyone to enjoy. To open the event on the Friday night was Liqueur. They are a band based on The Cure and were absolutely fantastic. Not only did the lead singer look and sound just like Robert Smith but the whole band played a great set of Cure tracks including Boys Don’t Cry, Close To Me and A Forrest. They were quickly followed by our first Bowie fix of the night with Rebel Rebel. Rebel Rebel offered two sets; the first including Lazarus as its opening track with the lead singer being led onto stage with button eyes. The set continued with a good range of 80’s Bowie and after a quick change into a cape he came back on to 70’s Bowie set. It was lapped up by the audience who loved every track and were singing at the top of their voices. This performance was followed up by Bowieoke, where anyone could get up and sing their personal favourite track. Andy Yeo led the Bowieoke with an amazing performance of Blackstar. It was a powerful performance and his whole-body movements reflected the songs. After the songs we partied on with a DJ set by Baz until 1am.
The next day (see what I did there?) was a full 13 hours of DB fun so fans started turning up even before the official opening at 12 noon. Actually, the parts in between the bands were just as important. Fans getting to meet other fans who ‘get’ Bowie. Fans whose own families don’t understand the commitment and love but here in this room strangers knew without explaining. It’s a Bowie family and you could feel the Bowie love in the room.
The Bowie Room opened the Saturday session and were real rock n roll. Playing a range of songs including Nightclubbing, Roxy’s Love Is The Drug, Iggy’s Passenger and Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side and well as Bowie tracks such as Queen Bitch, Jean Genie and Golden Years they got the crowd on their feet singing along lunchtime. This is no easy task which goes to show that The Bowie Room were awesome and I think Bowie himself would have enjoyed the energy in their performance.
The Bloody Marys gave a break from pure Bowie to let John Dyson do his thing as Iggy and wow, was he mesmerising! He comes on with the Iggy attitude and introduces himself by saying ‘Hello Fuckers’. It fits the performance perfectly. He moves and contorts his body just like Iggy would and with his bare chest and raw charisma, he was Iggy personified. The set was mainly Iggy which went down with many fans very well and included Lust for life, I Wanna Be Your Dog, Sister Midnight and China Girl.
The next band up were Faerground Accidents. They sound like a cross between Bowie and Suede and in my book that is no bad thing at all. The lead has a very unique and stunning vocal range that one could just gasp at, and along with his wonderfully quirky mad hatter look., he gives a really great performance. Their set included a range of their own material alongside Ashes to Ashes, I can’t give everything away and five years. This was followed by The Major Toms. They were outstanding and although very smart in their waistcoats they could really rock the joint. Opening with Five Years they played the full Ziggy Stardust album including It Ain’t Easy and Rock N Roll Star which are rarely played live. This was followed up by Where Are We Now and Black Country Rock. A really great set list performed with style and class.
We then had a short break from the live acts to rest your feet, singing voice and grab a bite to eat if desired. (It was fortunate the venue sold food so you didn’t need to leave it to enjoy 13 hours straight of Bowie, Bowie, Bowie if you chose to). For those who fancied it, a Bowie Quiz. Soon enough the live bands were back with Luxury Stranger (what a great band name!) who did a lot of their own material with the odd Bowie track thrown in such as Slow Burn, Win and Fall Dog Bombs The Moon. The non-Bowie stuff blended so beautifully with David Bowie’s work that a non-fan would not be able to tell the difference. I can’t offer a higher accolade than that.
Our friends from Dublin were on next. The London Boys are normally a six-piece band but today we were honoured to have two of them doing an acoustic set of 60’s Bowie. It is so rare to hear 60’s Bowie performed live so it made it especially anticipated. Their Irish charm and warm personas had the crowd enchanted, singing songs such as Let Me Sleep Beside You, Can’t Help Thinking About Me, She’s Got Medals and such a beautiful rendition of When I’m Five that it actually made me cry. They also did Amsterdam which had the crowd (and me) singing along at the top of our voices. Sixties Bowie really is underplayed and underappreciated. The words and stories in the songs are pure genius and as The London Boys said, it’s the birth of Bowie in these songs. The headline act were The Bowie Contingent, a six piece smartly dressed band. Their set list was phenomenal. It was just perfect for the convention, offering 80’s Bowie such as Fashion, Ashes to Ashes, Absolute Beginners and China Girl, 70’s Bowie including Be My Wife, Sons of the Silent Age (what a great choice!) and Changes. They played Valentine’s Day (another brilliant choice) and Blue Jean alongside Cactus (The Pixies cover). Two encores had some all-time die-hard favourites such as a full version of Station To Station and a stunning version of Quicksand. Jason had a great range for singing Bowie’s material and alongside Conor, a young guitarist who would give Mick Ronson a run for his money, they absolutely smashed it out of the ball park. Or as I would like to say, the band were all together. After their set Baz came on to invite all the bands to participate in All The Young Dudes – a convention tradition. The final speech by the Jimster himself said ‘Thank you for keeping David Bowie alive. He is always in our hearts. Long Live Bowie.’ I couldn’t put it better myself.
This event is very well organised by people who know what Bowie fans want. Timings to the schedule were perfect and with a quality venue and great staff make it a wonderful experience. It fed my soul with Bowie love. Bowie himself said ‘How can life become a point of view?’ It shouldn’t.
The measure of a good event is if you want to do it again. If you want to feed your soul with Bowie love this is the place to be.