Review: Ultimate Bowie, Seaham Town Hall

STARS IN THEIR EYES   TX:  Saturday 5 March 2005 ON ITV1''Family favourite Stars In Their Eyes makes a welcome return to Saturday night screens, featuring ordinary people with an extraordinary talent for song.''CAT DEELEY presents the multi award-winning soundalike series, which showcases fifty more faces who are set to walk through the immortal portals, and emerge through the dry ice as their favourite performers.''In the 16th series viewers can look forward to contestants' performances as chart toppers Anastacia, Emma Bunton, Ronan Keating, Ricky Martin, Will Young and Katie Melua as well as classic crooners such as Engelbert Humperdinck, Al Green and Andy Williams,  ''Pictured - Ed Blaney performs as David Bowie.' 'The series culminates in the 2005 Stars In Their Eyes Live Final when viewers will get the chance to vote for their favourite act.''This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV. Once made available by ITV Plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the TX date and no reproduction fee will be charged.  Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full terms and conditions of use available at www.itvpictures.com ''For pictures please contact David Crook on 0161 827 2361.

STARS IN THEIR EYES TX: Saturday 5 March 2005 ON ITV1''Family favourite Stars In Their Eyes makes a welcome return to Saturday night screens, featuring ordinary people with an extraordinary talent for song.''CAT DEELEY presents the multi award-winning soundalike series, which showcases fifty more faces who are set to walk through the immortal portals, and emerge through the dry ice as their favourite performers.''In the 16th series viewers can look forward to contestants' performances as chart toppers Anastacia, Emma Bunton, Ronan Keating, Ricky Martin, Will Young and Katie Melua as well as classic crooners such as Engelbert Humperdinck, Al Green and Andy Williams, ''Pictured - Ed Blaney performs as David Bowie.' 'The series culminates in the 2005 Stars In Their Eyes Live Final when viewers will get the chance to vote for their favourite act.''This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV. Once made available by ITV Plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the TX date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Plc Picture Desk. Full terms and conditions of use available at www.itvpictures.com ''For pictures please contact David Crook on 0161 827 2361.

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IT’S probably the best blast from the Bowie past you’ll ever get.

As much as fans would love to see David Bowie take to the stage again, better still perform a ‘best of’ tour date in the North East, I’d bet my copy of David Live on vinyl this is the closest we’ll ever come to the man himself.

Seaham teacher Ed Blaney, who launched his tribute act almost a decade ago after appearing on Stars In Their Eyes, not only staged a homecoming gig but made his debut to the town’s audience last night after building up a solid reputation at venues and festivals across the country.

He and his band showcased a whirlwind ride of Bowie’s back catalogue, from the Ziggy Stardust years through to his 80s tracks and it was joy to sit back and let one after the other kick in.

All the greatest hits were there - The Man Who Sold The World, Diamond Dogs, Changes, Ashes to Ashes and Heroes, with a duet with Ed’s wife Christina in the role of Freddie Mercury for Under Pressure also added into the mix.

But the stand out songs for the audience, as it voted with its feet to take to the floor, were Let’s Dance and Jean Genie.

There was proper dancing going on down at the front and it was brilliant to see the crowd, many dressed in Bowie t-shirts, sequins or Christmas jumpers for the festive occasion, lose itself.

Listen to any amount of recordings of Bowie’s shows to your heart’s content, but the chances are it’ll never match the set list here, nor that feeling of the drum beat in your chest or the lasting ringing in your ears.

Years of living in a seaside town where tribute bands were often the only live music going, I lost heart in such acts ages ago, but this restored the joy of seeing someone who really knows their stuff recreate it well.

Shut your eyes, I doubt you would notice much of a difference in the voice or music from the genuine article either, with the band’s renditions of his tracks spot on.

Even when you hear versions by tributes, the flounces and twists added often jar. Here, you can imagine this is how it would really be and Ed’s done a great job of mastering the accent and the moves.

With three costume changes, from jumpsuit to powder blue three-piece and finally an all in red 80s inspired outfit, it moved the show through the ages smoothly.

The group told the audience at the newly-opened venue they had been waiting for the right place to play before a local gig, and while the town hall might not go on to gain the same reputation as the Hammersmith Odeon, it was great to see a packed room enjoy the night and fill the gap town leaders said it would.

And should Bowie fail to visit this end of the country, at least we’ll have Ultimate Bowie to entertain us, with the added bonus of touches like the ones we saw last night.

From singing a chorus of happy birthday for Norman’s 60th, to dedications of songs to a band member’s daughter, this one was just for us.