Gig review: Earl Slick and Bernard Fowler, ABC, Glasgow

'WE ARE not here because of a death, we are here because of a life,' proclaimed Bernard Fowler, the man with the seemingly unenviable role of fronting this celebration of David Bowie's brilliant 1976 album Station To Station, conceived and curated by Bowie's 'street guy' guitarist Earl Slick.

Earl Slick and Bernard Fowler celebrate a life. Picture: Contributed
Earl Slick and Bernard Fowler celebrate a life. Picture: Contributed

Earl Slick and Bernard Fowler perform David Bowie’s Station to Station | Rating: **** | ABC, Glasgow

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Slick, a spike-haired stick of a man in a frock coat, was the picture of the elegantly aging rocker, and shrewd enough to know when to take lead and when to defer to Fowler. Best known as long-term Rolling Stones backing vocalist, Fowler was an inspired choice of frontman, bringing an almost operatic soul power, warm charisma and his own interpretative spin to the songs, without betraying the essence of the music.

This was the MO for the entire evening. Slick didn’t spare the free guitar riffing over the opening Station to Station, Spandau Ballet’s skilled jack-of-all-trades Steve Norman was on hand to provide killer high harmonies and cathartic sax on industrially funky versions of TVC15 and Stay, while Fowler delivered a masterful rhythm’n’blues performance of the tender, melodramatic Wild Is The Wind.

The Station to Station set was followed by some connoisseur choices, including a rambunctious Diamond Dogs, gorgeous, sultry slow jam Win from Young Americans – another Bowie album touched by the hand of Slick – and Valentine’s Day from his penultimate album The Next Day, plus an acoustic interlude showcasing Slick’s influences and Fowler’s roots, a super bluesy Jean Genie and a mighty Heroes, with Slick brooding away on that classic controlled guitar line.