Absolute Bowie

David Bowie tribute band

Joe's Bar & Grill, 260 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 7DX, Thu 2 October - Thu 21 May 2015

May 22, 2015

When a man strides on stage in a crotch-high silk kimono and glitter lipstick, you know something special is about to happen.

We arrived a little early at Joe’s Bar and Grill, but already the place was buzzing. We sat ourselves down at the bar, and as we ordered cocktails and carefully counted the number of people in Bowie t-shirts (at least four), the tension began to grow. As the puddings were cleared away, we waited for our hero to hit the stage.

Finally at half nine, with most guests happily fed and on to their third drink of the night, the lights went down and Ziggy came out.

Absolute Bowie has been described by Woody Woodmansey (the drummer from Bowie’s band) as ‘the closest to the real thing you’ll get.’ Sadly I’ve never seen the real thing, but I’m pretty sure that last night Ziggy and his Spiders actually popped forward in time from their 70s heyday to play especially for us.

With such incredible songs to choose from, a Bowie tribute act is never going to go far wrong, but Absolute Bowie goes beyond copying to inhabiting both the great man and his cast of incredible musicians.

Mick Ransom in particular brought his near-namesake’s guitar playing back to life, screeching and noodling through some fabulous solos (though probably suffering somewhat under his bleached blonde wig while he did so).

Bowie pouted and posed his way through favourites like 'Ziggy Stardust', 'Life on Mars?', 'All the Young Dudes' and 'Moonage Dream'. His voice didn’t always hit the real Bowie’s sleek, spaced-out style, but the red hair, elaborate cape and spot-on mannerisms more than made up for it.

Ok, so occasionally you could tell we weren’t actually in the presence of a superstar, but that’s the accepted cognitive dissonance of seeing a tribute act. Personally I didn’t like Mr not-quite-Bowie breaking the fourth wall to encourage the audience to sing along, but he’s an entertainer with a crowd to please – and that he did.

A short interval and a flurry at the bar, and Bowie was back: blonde and sharp-suited. After a true-to-Bowie self-indulgent performance of 'Loving the Alien' (mask included), came the 80s hits: 'Fame', 'Fashion' and, everyone’s favourite, 'Let’s Dance'.

And as the room got hotter and the cheers got louder, people couldn’t help but sway through the crowd to an empty space and dance the blues.

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