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Bowie Experience. Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury.

I have been called a die-hard David Bowie fan. I talk about him and quote him almost daily without realising. He accidentally crops up in my conversations. I saw him live four times and since his passing, my only tattoo is sporting the Blackstar’s and a quote from Rock N Roll Suicide. So, I feel well qualified to review a Bowie tribute. I totally understand that most people going to see a tribute are not in my category and that the band has to accommodate that. It must be difficult choosing a set list that everyone is happy with. It’s rare to hear anything past Blue Jean and in fact, tonight we didn’t even get that far. However, being a 70’s Bowie girl (if I am forced to pick an era) I was more than happy with the set list.

I have seen many David Bowie tributes since his passing. I never saw any while he was still with us, but now I feel this is a good way to celebrate his songs. You are in an audience of fans who want to sing and dance along; you are enjoying his music and remembering his genius. I had not seen Bowie Experience before. Please note this is a separate band to The Bowie Experience which I saw a few years ago.

This band are hugely talented. They certainly played perfectly and a special shout out to Tim on guitar who gave Mick Ronson a run for his money. Highlights include Under Pressure which was outstanding with one of the backing singers taking on Freddie’s lines. She was wonderful and it got me thinking that it might be nice to hear a few more songs sung by women. It gives a unique sound to Bowie’s songs and I feel it’s something that Bowie Experience could consider as they certainly have the talent in the band to do it. It would also give Oliver a chance to rest in-between songs. I also loved that during Heroes, the background images were Bowie quotes. It reflects Bowie’s genius and how much the band love and respect him.

I felt it was a brave decision to start with Space Oddity. It’s a slow number and it might be better placed further along the set list. I loved that Queen Bitch was included. I felt that was definitely one added for the die-hards so thank you. However, I believe it is sacrilege to cut half of Station To Station off. Yes, it is a long song but if you are choosing to play it, don’t cut the best half of it off. I beg you to play it in all its glory. I loved some of the imagery on the big screen but sometimes it felt distracting to the performance. It was used really well with Space Oddity and Heroes but not sure it is needed for every song. The Bowie Experience logo would be enough and allow the audience to concentrate on the performance on stage.

Oliver had a lot of costume changes. I felt these were not all needed. Do we really need so many changes from the Ziggy Stardust period? I loved the Life On Mars suit (designed by Freddie Burretti) which even had the tie pattern accurately replicated. I also loved Halloween Jack and I have always loved the Earthling jacket. However, I did feel that while Oliver was changing, we probably could have squeezed a few more songs in so perhaps do not have so many changes. And I am sorry but I have to talk about the wigs. Please buy some better wigs if you are relying on a look. The Thin White Duke wig was the worst and just not an attractive look. Bowie was sexy and the wigs are not giving off sexy at all. It is giving us a cardigan wearing IT nerd who lives alone and surfs the dark web. I am sure that is not the look that Bowie Experience are intending.

The second half felt better paced than the first and Oliver seemed more in flow with his performance. He didn’t sing exactly on the bar of each song (which is rather annoying for a die-hard) but clearly enjoys performing and we could feel the Bowie love. It saddens me slightly that everyone gets up to dance to Let’s Dance, but not Fashion or Boys Keep Swinging, but that is no fault of the band. That is because David Bowie’s commercial period is the one that people know the most. But for the 80’s period, the audience were going wild in the aisles. Overall, it was a fun night out. My friend and I sang and danced and enjoyed the show for what it is. You go to a tribute not expecting to see Bowie. And it is the only way to see Bowie’s music played live which deserves to live on.

If you want to see Bowie Experience, please see their website for future performances:

Set List:

1. Space Oddity

2. Queen Bitch

3. Changes

4. Life On Mars

5. Ziggy Stardust

6. Moonage Daydream

7. Jean Genie

8. Suffragette City

9. The Man Who Sold The World

10. Sorrow

11. John I’m Only Dancing

12. Rebel Rebel

13. Diamond Dogs

14. Cracked Actor

15. Station To Station

16. Golden Years

17. Young Americans

18. Sound and Vision

19. Boys Keep Swinging

20. Fashion

21. Let’s Dance

22. China Girl

23. Under pressure

24. Modern Love

25. Ashes to Ashes

26. Starman

27. Heroes


All The Young Dudes


Oliver Slee – David Bowie

Tim Wedlake – Guitar

Paul Gill – Drums

Lidia Cascarino Close – Bass

Lotte-Elizabeth Leighton – Vocals/percussion

Martyn Cooper – Keys

Emily Westwood/ Sarah Bolter/Jemma Love (at alternative performances)

Darren Jones/Dan Booth – Guitar (at alternative performances)


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