The show may have been designed for Bowie die-hards but it should please a much wider audience.
Large touring productions that celebrate the work of significant musical artists are becoming more common. Incorporating an orchestra can be a point of difference that adds a richness to on-stage performance.
David Bowie: Nothing Has Changed reached Adelaide last night after a premiere in Sydney with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and visits to Melbourne and Perth. With that history, one might expect a well-honed show.
The big songs are there – “Starman”, “All the Young Dudes”, “Diamond Dogs”, “Fame”, “Oh! You Pretty Things”, “Sorrow” and more. The list of featured singers – iOTA, Tim Rogers, Steve Kilbey, Deborah Conway and Adalita – suggests a wealth of experience and the songs were shared in solo and duet performances and, occasionally, larger groupings, but to varying effect.
Conway and iOTA displayed the best command of the material and were always a pleasure to hear. Conway, for instance, strutted with Rogers against the spiralling suspense of tension from the strings in a version of “Fame”. Solo, and with only a piano for backing, she made “Oh! You Pretty Things” her own.
Similarly, iOTA sang “Is There Life on Mars?” so convincingly that one could forget this was a show about Bowie and simply be swept up in the performance. He was flamboyant and even Bowie-sounding, though the latter should not be a prerequisite for this kind of show. Rogers was also in good form and appeared to enjoy his role.
We can thank Ashley Naylor (a band member) for the musical direction and Nicholas Buc for ably conducting the orchestra. The guitars, however, were often drowned out by the swell of sound from other instruments, even during a solo, and sometimes in the vocal duets one singer had markedly less volume than the other.
The second and final Adelaide performance of David Bowie: Nothing Has Changed – tonight at the Festival Theatre – has already sold out.
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