Operation Bowie Saturday August 22, 2009 At Nectars

Words by Tim Lewis.

Oh right, the cover band thing again. I was walking downtown on a day off when I noticed a poster saying Operation Bowie was at Nectars. I assumed it was a Bowie cover band and that was confirmed by a write up in 7 Days.

I’ve since lost the details of whom the musicians were who did this though that may work out as the show was a bit of a mixed bag. The musicianship was generally pretty good but did fall apart a couple of times, but I should begin at the beginning and tell the story from there.

I arrived a bit early at Nectars to find a rope line set up and several people in Bowie costumes vamping for the cameras. It turned out that they were all members of the band having a good time. This was a good indication that it was going to be a fun evening. I entered the bar and there was a jazz band on. They were called Jon Dom and the Chicken Kickers. They made some Dominos jokes and played some cool jazz. They sounded pretty good but my mood was otherwise. I listened patiently but didn’t find the groove. I arrived late enough to only hear 3 or 4 songs before they left the stage for Bowie.

When it was time Operation Bowie took the stage. There was a singer, two guitar players, a bassist, drummer, keyboard player and 3 backup singers. All except the backup singers were dressed as Bowie from one era or another, oh and the keyboard player was dressed in a white hooded jumpsuit with gas mask.

They opened with a decent version of Ziggy Stardust. The keys were mixed down a bit and there was no clear distinction between the two guitars but otherwise it sounded ok. They followed with a rousing version of Panic in Detroit and the full dance floor bounced away. The sound was a bit better and they stared to lay into the songs a bit more. The Man Who Sold the World followed and they really hit their stride. They really captured the feel of the song and let it rock.

Somewhere around there someone said to mix up the piano. This dramatically improved the sound but the guitars were mixed down too far and were still pretty muddy. The almost right sound was balanced by the humor of the bass player. During the break between each song he sang various parts of the Flight of the Concords Bowie episode. Bowie’s in Space came up a lot.

From there things become a bit muddy. I’m pretty sure Changes was fourth complete with a Let’s Dance era Bowie playing some killer sax. From there they traveled through Heroes, Aladin Sane (which had a killer end section only marred by the lead guitar being mixed down too far) and maybe a few others. I was surprised and delighted when they announced Oh You Pretty things. They made it sound good for a while before the singer lost his place in the song. One of the guitar players had to obviously help him find it. Things got back on track for Watch that Man and they ended the set with a killer version of Life on Mars.

I had gotten another drink during Mars and was bummed that was where the set break was. After the usual 20 minutes or so they came back and said they would play the more danceable numbers. My drink ended during Fame and so did I. It was late and they were fun but staying for the dance songs was not where I wanted to be.

All in all it was a bit dicey musically but had the vibe and was pretty fun. I hope they practice a lot and do it again sometime.

On my way home I stopped into Parima to give Doors cover band, People are Strange, another chance. Andrew Champagne worked the door last time and encouraged me to try them again. When I arrived they were playing a good version of Hello I Love You then wandered through one of the drifty parts of a Doors song that sounded familiar but I could not put my finger on. They did not play it long before calling it a night. Again they did not grab me but I saw so little it’s not fair to judge. Maybe I will try them again sometime to see if anything is happening.

This post was originally published by Tim Lewis at his personal blog, https://timstriangletribune.wordpress.com.