A Bowie Celebration | Ventura Theater | 9/26/18

Article Contributed by L. Paul Mann | Published on Saturday, October 6, 2018

The second leg of A Bowie Celebration, the David Bowie Alumni tour made its way to the Majestic Ventura Theater in Ventura, California, for a 22-song marathon concert of David Bowie classics. The show featured a core band of Bowie collaborators including, keyboardist Mike Garson who was Bowie's longest and most frequent band member. Garson played on more than 20 Bowie albums and performed more than 1000 live shows with him. Also, in the band was lead guitarist extraordinaire Earl Slick, who performed with Bowie during some of his most successful early years and again in the new millennium. Bassist Carmine Rojas played on several Bowie multi-platinum hits like "Let's Dance," "China Girl," “Modern Love” and toured on the Blue Jean on the Serious Moonlight and Glass Spider tours. Rhythm guitarist Mark Plati worked as a music producer and musical director for Bowie over several projects. Lee John, the son of Earl Slick, played drums. He is a multi-instrumentalist songwriter and producer from Los Angeles.

Gaby Moreno | Ventura, CA

The singers for this stop on the tour included Gaby Moreno from Guatemala. She is a Latin Grammy-winning singer-songwriter. Also taking a turn as lead singer was Englishman Joe Sumner, a singer-songwriter and bassist for the rock band Fiction Plane. Finally, singer Bernard Fowler held down the lion’s share of lead vocals at the Ventura show. He is a singer and songwriter known for his work with The Rolling Stones for more than 30 years. His exquisite vocals have appeared on literally hundreds of albums including some by Herbie Hancock, Ryuichi Sakamoto, John Mayer, Rod Stewart, Robert Plant, Duran Duran, Philip Glass, Bootsy Collins, and many others.

Mike Garson | A Bowie Celebration

New York-based Mike Garson acted as the MC for the evening and addressed the Ventura crowd at the beginning of the 2 hour and fifteen-minute concert with an explanation about the opening song. The show began quietly with just Garson on piano joined by vocalist Bernard Fowler.

Bernard Fowler | A Bowie Celebration

The dynamic Bernard Fowler was utilized for two classics at the beginning of the show, “Rebel Rebel” and “Fame,” as the full band took the stage and turned the concert into an ear-piercing rock and roll show. Vocalists Sumner and Moreno sang back up voices and played acoustic instruments until it was their turn to rotate to lead vocals. Sumner sang the songs with the high notes while Moreno sang in a more soulful style. But Fowler proved to be the most effective vocalist, with plenty of eye contact and interaction with the crowd and an authentic rock star vibe. Slick pranced around the stage like one of the whirling dervishes. His relentless guitar riffs kept the show in true rock mode. Garson played some fantastic piano solos bordering on jazz territory. The audience responded excitedly dancing and singing most of the well-known chorus lines. The band tore through 22 Bowie classics in a nostalgic night and a fitting tribute to the musical genius of one of the greatest rock chameleons in rock history.