The gig tonight is hosted by The Thin White Dukes who are a Bowie cover band from Canberra. Members are Justin Halstead (Lead Vocals), Michael Bye (Lead Guitar), Garth Heron (Bass/Vocals), Indiana Richardson (Vocals) and Mark Levers (Drums). Tonight is a celebration of the year just had and their last gig for 2018.
Two acts performed before The Thin White Dukes and yet the crowd in the last 20 mins has multiplied suggesting that there is a following for the group and I have seen them billed at several locations across Canberra since becoming aware of their existence.
All members with the exception of Halstead make their way on stage and they are dressed accordingly in the ‘glam rock’ attire of the Bowie era…ahhh, I remember it well! The music begins and our lead track is ‘Rebel Rebel’ – I recognise it instantly. Halstead joins the others on stage dressed in a ‘Starman’ inspired silver suit.
‘Rebel Rebel’ is followed by ‘Suffragette City’. In the lower and mid ranges Halstead capably performs vocally and with the ‘Bowie’ sound we all came to love. As Halstead’s upper range weakens, Richardson takes up the support role vocally and together they produce a full sound adding to the interest of delivery.
From my viewpoint I am a little hindered by my perception of “clutter” on stage as four of the group members make up the front line. This lineup pushes both Bye and Heron to the side stage area where the lighting at the venue keeps them in the shadows for the most part. This was a little disappointing as they had so much to add to the experience visually and instrumentally.
Throughout the set we are taken on a journey through some of Bowie’s most notable hits – The Man Who Sold The World, Starman, China Girl, Under Pressure, Only Dancing and ending with an encore performance of Hero’s.
Only three members of The Thin White Dukes play an instrument and yet the sound was full and true to the genre’s of each track. Levers sets about his task of keeping tempo and adding percussion balance to the performance with flair and style. Likewise both Bye and Heron provide good rock solid and muscular performances on their respective instruments.
Covering Bowie is a brave vocal challenge yet Halstead’s delivery is honest and fitting of a Bowie cover. Richardson’s support vocals lend to the whole experience and her upper register is on point however at times her strength appeared to overshadow the lead which could have been an issue with their sound mix on the night.
All this being said there is no denying that I had a fantastic time and loved what I saw. I’m not the only one, the punters were up on the dance floor and singing along shouting out and screaming for an encore from the group at the end of their set. I lost count of the numbers I saw with their phones out capturing hopefully great pictures or videos of the night…so if you are looking to book a crowd pleasing act then I’d suggest The Thin White Dukes was a group you could count on!