It’s five years since David Bowie left the mortal coil, but thanks to the dedication of his Perth fans, you can celebrate his music at a live show every year.
The MIND WARP PAVILION is staged by former music journalist, Leanne Casellas and musician, Greg Dear; both uber Bowie fans. On the first anniversary of Bowie’s death, the duo collaborated to stage a show with 45 local musicians paying homage to the British rock star.
The show was such a hit, it’s become a yearly event. On Saturday, January 9, at The Rechabite in Northbridge, local musicians and performers will take to the big stage to celebrate Bowie at what’s termed “MWP5.”
Leanne Casellas tells The Starfish about this annual tribute.
Why celebrate David Bowie?
I have been a fan since I was a slip of a girl. At the age of 12, in a backyard poolroom, I was introduced to Diamond Dogs by a friend’s older brother. The album’s cover, depicting Bowie as half human and half dog, enthralled me, as did opening track Future Legend, about a dystopian future, full of eerie howling and a crashing crescendo. That was it. I was hooked from that moment.
I was utterly bereft when he died. I wanted to do something that ensured an enduring legacy and, from a very selfish point of view, something that kept him ‘alive’ in my own little world. But, altruistically, I was also keen on making sure he continued to be exposed to a new audience. We have achieved that, not from the attendees so much, but from many players who weren’t that familiar with Bowie and have now been indoctrinated, being turned on to the complexity and beauty of his body of work. Enter Beautiful Losers’ frontman, Greg Dear who I had worked with on the Red Parrot Reunion shows and found we shared a common admiration of Mr B – and the rest is history!
What’s the significance of the event’s name?
Only the most ardent devotees seem to get this. It is a line from The Bewlay Brothers a track on the 1971 Hunky Dory album: “We were so turned on In the Mind-Warp Pavilion…” And trust me, turned on we are at these events. I find them quite emotional.
What can people expect from MWP5?
To be immersed in Bowie love – the room will be full of it! And to dance to the three sets of his music performed by 40 plus local musicians. Each year we always add an extra special element; we’ve had drag, experimental soundscapes, and ukuleles. This year it’s a burlesque performance! Plus, we are opening with a spectacular ensemble performance of Five Years to mark the fifth anniversary of his death, which is being coordinated by Jane Cornes Maclean.
We also have live art, with artist Rahalie McGuirk creating a Bowie artwork, which we auction at the end of the night with half of the proceeds going to the Cancer Council – our chosen charity because it aligns with Bowie dying from liver cancer. We donate funds after costs as well. And the Glitter Girls, who are dab hands with executing the Ziggy Stardust flash with real pizzazz and sparkle, will be there in sparkling style!
Why do you think David Bowie was so influential?
Bowie is special. Not just because he epitomised the zeitgeist and his music and persona were enthralling, but because anyone who was even a tad left of centre related to him. He encouraged us to dare to be different, to shun the mediocre, to strive for more, to be true to yourself and be unashamedly creative.
We truly do owe the long-haired lad from Brixton a debt of gratitude. The annual Mind Warp Pavilion events are, in some small way, our way of repaying this debt. His blazing black star inhabits a place in us all; this is what The Mind Warp Pavilion events celebrate.
How do you gauge a good show?
By how full the dance floor is! And the dance floors at all our shows have been packed from go to whoa. I see so many people dusting off their red shoes, slipping into some Kabuki style, sprinkling stardust in their hair, and cutting loose. Dressing up is not mandatory but many do unleash their glam side, which is fabulous to see.
What’s your favourite Bowie song?
That’s like asking who your favourite child is! There are so many. I particularly love Wild is the Wind even if he didn’t write it, but it is a very, very sexy song delivered with incredible panache and soulfulness that is a testament to his love of crooners. Lady Grinning Soul is also up there, and Slow Burn and Right are among other favourites. My favourite album, by the way, is Aladdin Sane.
How long will you continue to do the MWP events?
As long I can draw breath. I hope Greg feels the same because I couldn’t do it without him. The groundswell of support we get is amazing from participants and punters alike. When you hear a young guitarist nail a lick and delight in a song’s challenging chord progression or crazy tempo, I think to myself ‘job done’ – this is part of the discovery element to the event. Promoting his legacy is something I feel immensely proud of even in this very, very small way and it’s also something I really enjoy being part of – it’s a real labour of love.
Who should attend the show?
Anyone and everyone – just as Mr B would have liked it.