Line-Up Announced for Bowie Festival 2023

December 5, 2022

The world-renowned Dublin Bowie Festival returns for its 8th edition from January 10th – 15th with another exciting program of live music, dance, art, film and cultural events dedicated to the iconic Starman.

This year sees the return of Bowie’s esteemed guitarist, musical director and co-songwriter Gerry Leonard to the Festival as he headlines two shows in Whelans. Dubliner Leonard was famously ‘discovered’ by Bowie in a small New York city venue and quickly became one of his key collaborators from the year 2000 onwards.

His show on Friday 13th will be an ‘Audience with.. ‘ while his Sunday show sees him team up with the boy wonder of Irish pop music, Late Late Show regular Shobsy for the Festival closing party.

Other musical treats see the brilliant classical ensemble Glasshouse – fresh from their appearances at Electric Picnic and All Together Now – take on a range of Bowie classics in Opium on Thursday 12th of Jan while Ireland’s premier Bowie tribute band Rebel Rebel headline Opium on Saturday Jan 14th. The Festival is also celebrating the 50th birthday of Bowie’s classic Aladdin Sane album – home of one of his greatest tracks, Jean Jeanie – and as a special treat the acclaimed 8-piece band Playback will perform the album in its entirety in Opium on Friday 13th of January.

We will also be hosting a listening party and panel discussion on the album with the venerable B.P Fallon, Gerry Leonard and visiting Bowie scholar Leah Kardos discussing the album’s merits and influence on popular music.

Kardos is an Australian music creator, writer and academic who also brings her fascinating Blackstar Theory presentation to the Festival, an audio-visual spin off from her book of the same name.

The book is an acclaimed study of Bowie’s last works and also tackles the biggest of ideas: identity, creativity, chaos, transience and immortality.

The stunning 17th century Rathfarnham Castle will host what’s sure to be a Festival highlight; Bowie – Icon, a massive exhibition of photographs of the rock star from across the decades by the renowned French photographer Philippe Auclair.

Auclair was an official chronicler of Bowie so a lot of his photos offer a fascinating glimpse into Bowie’s offstage movements and downtime while he also had premium stateside access to many of the superstars most iconic shows.

Other treats include The Bowie Ball with Today FM DJ Ed Smith, where Festival goers put on their red shoes and dance the blues and live sets by Festival regulars I Heart Bowie and Bowie 60’s specialists The London Boys.

Dublin Bowie Festival – Event Program.

Wednesday Jan 10th: Bowie – Icon

An exhibition of Bowie photographs by Philippe Auliac. Rathfarnham Castle. Weds Jan 11th – Sun Jan 15th. Open 9.30am – 4.45pm. free admission.

Since first shooting Bowie in 1972, French photographer has captured the rock icon many times over his long career. Many of these images are now deemed classic portrayals and for this extensive exhibition Philippe will have over 60 photographs on display as well as an audio-visual screening of further images and some rare interviews with the starman.

Wednesday Jan 11th: I Heart Bowie – Whelans. 7.30pm. €18.

Festival favourites I Heart Bowie return to their spiritual home tonight with a stellar list of guest vocalists and the coolest house band in the land. Performing classic hits and revered album tracks, the collective have been a staple of the Festival for many years and never fail to delight and entertain and, as always, there’ll be plenty of surprise guests.

Thursday Jan 12th: The Glasshouse Ensemble: Golden Years – Opium. 8pm. €18.

The award-winning classical ensemble are back to perform an exciting set of Bowie’s greatest songs with some special guest vocalists and a host of great new arrangements. Fresh from performing at Electric Picnic, All Together Now and Beyond The Pale Festivals – covering everyone from Kate Bush to Aphex Twin – the 12-piece ensemble finish up a busy year with a concert dedicated to the Starman.

Friday Jan 13th: An Evening with Gerry Leonard – Whelans. 7.30pm. €20

Bowie’s guitarist and musical director for most of the 2000’s returns to his hometown to headline the Dublin Bowie Festival with a show that includes Gerry homage to Bowie’s work as a songwriter with special guest vocalists, a Q&A and some of Leonard’s solo work as Spooky Ghost. Gerry also plays guitar with Suzanne Vega and Rufus Wainwright and is a bona fide Bowie alumni legend.

Friday Jan 13th: Playback perform Aladdin Sane & late DJ – Opium. 10.30pm. €12

Dublin collective Playback are an esteemed band of musicians and singers who fearlessly take on the big guns of the music world. Their brilliant live show of Talking Heads ‘Stop Making Sense” is a joy to behold and tonight they take on Bowie’s stunning album Aladdin Sane, a record celebrating its 50th anniversary. Led by pianist Justin McCann, the band will perform the album from start to finish, featuring Bowie classics such as Jean Jeanie, Drive In Saturday and the mind blowing title track.

Saturday Jan 14th: Aladdin Sane Listening Party & Panel – Gerry Leonard/Leah Kardos/BP Fallon. Whelans. 3pm. Free admission.

Today we celebrate the 50th birthday of Aladdin Sane, Bowie’s stunning 1973 ode to the seedy underbelly of American nightlife, with a listening party and panel discussion, chaired by Hot Press bon vivant Pat Carty. Pat will be joined by a stellar panel including Bowie guitarist Gerry Leonard, Bowie academic Leah Kardos and the legendary Irish DJ, photographer, musician and PR man to the stars B.P Fallon.

Saturday Jan 14th: The London Boys – Whelans. 5pm. €5.

Playing the songs that made the man, The London Boys are the only band on the planet playing Bowie’s 1960s material, an artistic feat which has seen them invited to Bowie conventions in Liverpool, Blackpool, Derby and London over the last few years as well as being a foundation act of the Dublin Bowie Festival. From Take My Tip to Silly Boy Blue, Can’t Help Thinking About Me to Love You Till Tuesday, the Dublin based 6 piece are a tour de force live and are not to be missed.

Saturday Jan 14th: Rebel Rebel – Drive In Saturday. Opium. 7.30pm. €25

Ireland’s premier Bowie tribute band headlines our Saturday night program with a crash course for the ravers, a spectacular trawl through Bowie’s greatest hits from Space Oddity to Lazarus. Admission includes free entry to the Bowie Ball.

Saturday Jan 14th: The Bowie Ball – Opium. 10.30pm. €10.

Today FM DJ and Bowie fanatic Ed Smith mans the decks for our crash course for the ravers, back to back Bowie classics and floor fillers all night long. Definitely a night to glam and glitter up for!

Sunday Jan 15th: Blackstar Theory – The Last Works of David Bowie – an audio visual presentation by author Leah Kardos. 3.30pm. Whelans. Free admission.

Blackstar Theory author Leah Kardos takes a close look at David Bowie’s ambitious last works: his surprise ‘comeback’ project The Next Day (2013), the off-Broadway musical Lazarus (2015) and the album that preceded the artist’s death in 2016 by two days, Blackstar, over the course of her acclaimed audio visual presentation.

Her superb book explores the swirl of themes that orbit and entangle these projects from a starting point in musical analysis and features new interviews with key collaborators from the period: producer Tony Visconti, graphic designer Jonathan Barnbrook, musical director Henry Hey, saxophonist Donny McCaslin and assistant sound engineer Erin Tonkon. These works tackle the biggest of ideas: identity, creativity, chaos, transience and immortality. They enact a process of individuation for the Bowie meta-persona and invite us to consider what happens when a star dies.

Leah Kardos is an Australian music creator, writer and academic who splits her time between music making, writing and academia. She is currently employed by Kingston University as a senior lecturer in music, and is the Project Leader of the Visconti Studio, a recording and research facility co-founded with legendary producer Tony Visconti. In 2019 she started the Kingston University Stylophone Orchestra, the only ensemble of its kind in the world. Their debut album, Stylophonika, co-produced with Tony Visconti, was released in January 2022 on Spun Out of Control records. She publishes music with Bigo & Twigetti, contributes music reviews and criticism to The Wire.

Sunday Jan 15th: Bowie Raw – Let’s Spend The Night Together.

Featuring Gerry Leonard, Shobsy & very special guests. 7.30pm. €18

Our Festival closing party sees Bowie guitarist/musical director Gerry Leonard team up with some of our brightest emerging stars for an informal night of Bowie songs. Joining him will be the brilliant new Dublin artist Shobsy, fresh from his sold-out headliner gig and some superb performances with the RTE Concert Orchestra on various TV programmes, including The Late Late Show. The Festival will also feature spectacular glamtastic drag shows with Veda Lady in The George on Wed Jan 11th and the Dance To The Underground Queer DJ Collective in Fibber McGees on Fri Jan 13th.  Today FM DJ ED Smith will be on the decks for our big Saturday night dance event, The Bowie Ball in Opium and we are delighted to be screening Brett Morgans stunning new Bowie doc Moonage Daydream as part of our Cracked Actor film program in The Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield.

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