“I swapped my first illegal six pack of beer for a mates Hunky Dory album on Halloween night in 1981 and never looked back,” recalled John Brereton, the founder of the Dublin Bowie Festival.
“I was consumed by his music and the lyrical imagery and cultural references within his songs made me delve into what made Bowie tick. It was a magical journey; his influence opened so many doors and I just loved how he brought theatre and sexual playfulness into rock n roll.”
The Bowie Festival attracts over 8000 fans to its programme of events and here are a few of our highlights from the 2019 edition.
Ground control to Major Tom…thus spoke Bowie at the start of his seminal album. This world premiere performance of the Space Oddity album from start to finish (and Other songs from the Bowie Universe) by the I Heart Bowie ensemble alongside the renowned Trinity Orchestra and some very special guest singers. National Concert Hall, Monday January 7, €18-€26
A Bowie Celebration
Comprising of five key members of Bowie’s band over his long career – Mark Plati, Carmine Rojas, Earl Slick, Dubliner Gerry Leonard and Bowies longest serving sidekick, pianist Mike Garson – A Bowie Celebration bring an unforgettable and critically acclaimed evening of Bowie songs with world-class vocalists and an ever rotating mix of hits and deep cuts. Olympia, Wednesday January 9, €40.50
Bowie by Duffy
Brian Duffy had an eight-year working relationship with Bowie and shot five key sessions over this period providing the creative concept as well as the photographic image for three album covers, including the 1973 Aladdin Sane (often nicknamed ‘the Mona Lisa of pop and Bowie’s – and arguably Rock n Roll’s – most famous image), 1979’s Lodger and 1980s Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)
The story of his life and work is documented in a BBC documentary titled The Man Who Shot the 60’s and in 2013 Duffy was included in the Professional Photographer list of the 100 most influential photographers of all time. Duffy’s input had a significant influence on the creation of Bowie’s chameleon-like public image.
ebow Gallery, Wednesday January 9 to Sunday January 13, 11am-5pm (until 8pm on Thursday)
Labyrinth / The Man Who Fell to Earth / 2001: A Space Odyssey / Moon
This quartet of films will be screened as part of the festival. If we had to plump for one it is The Man Who Fell to Earth which was directed by Nicholas Roeg who sadly died last month. This 1976 sci-fi film tells the tale of an extraterrestrial who crash lands on Earth seeking a way to ship water to his planet, which is suffering from a severe drought. its’ Bowie’s first starring role as the alien Thomas Jerome Newton and befittingly surreal.
Moon – Thursday January 10, 8.30pm
The Man Who… – Friday January 11, 10.45pm
Labyrinth – Saturday January 12, 12pm
2001… – Sunday January 13, 3pm
Miriam Aïda – Loving The Alien
From Sweden welcomes Jazz/Bossa Nova vocalist Miriam Aïda who will be showcasing her stunning new album – Loving The Alien – a 12 track reinterpretation of classic Bowie tracks in her own inimitable Bossa Nova style. From Space Oddity to Let’s Dance, from Ziggy Stardust to Dollar Days, Aida takes on the Bowie songbook and infuses the melodies with unique rhythms and vocal phrasing more associated with Bossa Nova & Samba while staying true to the inherent soul of Bowie’s amazing songs. Sugar Club, Thursday January 10, €12
Other musical highlights include a thrilling double bill at The Grand Social on Friday, January 11, featuring the dynamic Heroes From Mars and the only act on the planet that cover Bowie’s 1960’s material, The London Boys, while superb Irish tribute band Rebel Rebel headline The Academy on Saturday 12. Later that night the action resumes in The Grand Social for a midnight Space Masquerade Ball featuring those rum rogues of the Electric Picnic, The Salty Dog Allstars.
For family fun there’s the 80’s musical fantasy Labyrinth and its noon screening on Saturday 12th kicks off a family friendly day of activities in Smithfield Square that includes talks, workshops and experiments as we engage our inner scientist while gazing up at the stars from inside a Mobile Planetarium looking at The View from Major Toms Tin Can.
Renowned Rolling Stone photographer John Rowlands pays the festival a visit for a visual presentation and discussion of his years working with Bowie. John was tour photographer for Bowie from 1974-78 and has captured some of his most iconic images, most notably ‘The Archer’ which was featured on Times Square this Summer, advertising the V&A’s worldwide mega-successful Bowie Is expo.
John’s portfolio also includes photos of Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys and many more legends of popular culture.
For the festival’s space program, they have Dr Niamh Shaw on board to curate an amazing array of events based around humanity’s quest to conquer Space. Dr Shaw is artist in residence at Blackrock Castle Observatory and brings scientific gravitas to the program with specially curated talks, workshops, Q&A’s and even comedy improv. They are teaming up with the Science Gallery for a series of events.
The Dublin Bowie Festival runs from Monday January 7 to Sunday January 13.