Jeff Duff brings the songs of David Bowie to the Tasmanian Festival of Voices on the evenings of Friday 3 and Saturday 4 July. That’s Bowie × Duff @ the Hobart City Hall.
See here for the Bowie Unzipped Toolbox and other blogposts about the Duff/Bowie shows, like at the Sydney Opera House in 2014 and 2013 and 2012.
Going by the weather forecast for Hobart, it will be interesting to see how much of a Bowie Unzipped show this one will be.
From The Mercury about the Festival:
"SINGERS from across Australia will descend on Hobart this week for this year’s Festival of Voices … More than 2000 singers – the most in the event’s 11-year history – are coming to participate in the festival, about two-thirds of them from interstate. … About 12,500 tickets were purchased for Festival of Voices performances last year and organisers are hoping to increase that figure to 16,000 — including more than 1200 to interstate buyers — this year, with a 114 per cent increase in ticket pre-sales so far." … read more
Mind you, this time in 2014, the same paper reported that 25,000 tickets were expected to be sold for the last Festival. Hopefully this year’s estimate is more reliable; with Duff for sure.
From the venue:
"Hobart City Hall is being transformed for the Festival of Voices: "into a musical Luna Park … with cocktail and lounge areas, candlelight and cabaret performances, … a place of temptation for the senses." … read more
The ABC also has this recent article about the history of the venue:
"From Dame Nellie Melba to AC/DC, a 1954 state reception for Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, as well as trade fairs, exhibitions, political and religious gatherings, dances and balls, Monday night wrestling, school speech and social nights, the City Hall has welcomed all." read more
Exciting from the start what with the Strauss “2001 theme” reverberating through the hall, from ground zero, crowned, creamed and topped-off by Duff’s backstage baritone spruiking up the spectable to come. Glenn Rhodes, Jess Ciampa, and Jak Housden emerged in genuine NASA outfits, taking up positions at keys/bass, drums/percussion, guitar (respectively) … followed by Duff in golden angel-wings, intoning that revolutionary “la, la, la, la” of Bowie’s Starman. Then followed Ziggy Stardust, … China Girl …
Duff, Rhodes, Ciampa and Housden performed some songs that are not always a common part of their Bowie Unzipped repertoire; or did them in previously unfigured ways (and way outs). Here are recordings from one or another of the 2 nights off my phone of the same: go your graphic equalizer.
Walk on the wildside
All the young dudes
These are just samples, tasters to keep us getting hither and smacked to the next Duff-does-Bowie gig.
And as for the “Festival”: City Hall was spectacular at least as it was magically caught in Duff’s earrings; there was nothing of the promised “Luna Park” of sensory smorgasbord that FOV’s marketeers spun about in its invitations. Against the often undistracting back-drops (a flat wash of purple here, then one of green, and so on, occasionally dispersed with bubbles and streaks), Duff’s two little earrings “blitzed” out like fire-flies, beguilingly sparked anew with his every twitch, encasing his pretty head with every idea we might yet know of Cleopatra and Elizabeth Taylor.
And as for the audience — All quickly warmed to Duff’s characteristic breaking of the 4th wall, through his ambient patter, and his frequent ambles down-stage and beyond, his conversational piques and prods. How’s this for a line?— "Does David Bowie get you aroused?" [‘yay,’ all scream]—then Duff asks “"How about the ladies?" (muted guffaws follow). On the first night, pitched royally front and centre in the auditorium, was the excellent presence of the late Premier of Tasmania, Lara Giddings, with the now Federal Labor senator Lisa Singh, also at table. Plain courtesy and discretion prevent us from reporting what exactly was the answer to Duff’s question, from this table, as he ad libbed to Young Americans, "Do you remember … your Julia Gillard …?".
On the second night, Duff got up three likely “Bopsy Twins” to perform the “Do-to-do” parts, with dance steps, throughout his rocky and then funky rendition of "Walk on the wildside.". So the crowd was lock-stepped with him all the way. Duff even cut through the 5th wall at the end of the 2nd night by getting the dame who called for “lights out” to come out and report why: a curfew, she alleged, was nigh. Duff carried on, obligingly, with a short but swelling song (“All the young dudes”), and no encore.
The night before, someone (who?) almost got JD excited enough to do “MacArthur Park” for an encore. But the crowd here in Hobart, as elsewhere, are rusted on glam and dance fans, calling out for “Jean Genie” to the end, and giving much less than thunderous applause to the operatic arts of Duff’s “Wild is the wind” (rarely performed by Bowie himself). So, no post-“Let’s Dance” Bowie here, no “I’m Afraid of Americans,” “I’m Deranged,” “The Dreamers,” “Sunday,” “Where are we now?,” or so on. That’s all probably a whole ‘nother show worth. “Bowie Intime,” perhaps.
Bowie’s songs are more important than Duff’s own? That’s something JD announced, amid his patter. Explore. Everything Duff’s composed, from "Logical Questions to God" to "Mumbo Jumbo" would set free-men building coliseums across the Milky Way, all in the hope and herald of Duff’s showing, while saints come long and hard, cathedral-high, in photons and alabaster, delirious like automatons, into aeons of Renaissance, blinding all eternities in showers of Enlightenment.