By James Currie
The David Bowie supergroup that is Sons of the Silent Age returned to the North side for what has become an annual event. This show was in part a benefit for NorthShore University HealthSystems Cancer Program. This hits close to home as the Metro’s own, Joe Shanahan, has fought the battle himself and luckily came out strong.
This show was a special one. SOTSA performed David Bowie’s 1980 album, Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) in its entirety. One of singer Chris Connelly’s stand out Bowie record favs. I asked him what his favorite track was from this album and he answered immediately back with “Teenage Wildlife”. A deep cut from the Thin White Dukes return to the UK album that spawned hits like the title track, “Scary Monsters”, “Ashes to Ashes” and “Fashion”. This was Bowie’s first album after the completion of the Berlin Trilogy and his continuation on experimenting with new sounds and recording techniques with a new producer. This is something The Sons Of The Silent Age have faithfully replicated, yet again, as they continue their loving Bowie tribute.
I’ve been covering Sons of the Silent Age since their inception. Watching their growth and development along the way. This is a continuation of their complete album projects which is following Bowie progress some 40 years later after each album completion. I’ve seen several other David Bowie tributes throughout the years and still keep coming back to this tribute band as my favorite. Connelly, a huge Bowie fan himself, has really worked hard to not only take on the appearance as Bowie, but mastered his voice to reach the ranges Bowie made seemingly impossible to follow. And that’s saying something because if you don’t know already, Connelly is Scottish and comes from an industrial metal music background.
After the SOTSA completed the RCA classic, they took a small break and Joe Shanahan and his crew came out to talk about the benefit and did a few raffle drawings as well as thanking the fans for coming out.
As soon as Shanahan was done, the band came back to do the “hits”. They plowed through classics everyone could sing along with like “Let’s Dance”, “Golden Years” and “Fame” before taking another break to introduce a special guest. This time around it was Michael Shannon (Yes, the spaceman himself – General Zod) portraying Lou Reed. This is becoming a regular spectacle as Shannon has appeared on stage with the band as other rock n roll icons that included Elvis (which he was practicing for a movie role where he played the King) and other time as Iggy Pop where he stripped down to just leather trousers flailed around like a fish outta water. Shannon takes this, like all his roles on stage and screen, serious.
This night, he performed several Lou Reed classics in Reed’s traditional black t-shirt, black pants and black Ray-ban look performing “White Light/ White Heat”, “Vicious” and “Waiting For The Man” a song that was sung together with Connelly trading off lyrics off each other like the real Bowie and Reed did 20 years prior. He follows Connelly’s lead by mimicking his impersonation spot on including Reeds spastic shaking and falling on the ground. This is always a welcomed addition to this space oddity.
What’s impressive about a Sons of the Silent Age performance are the fans. This was another seemed to be sold out performance even though it was the first snow storm of the new year. The house was packed. There was nowhere to stand. Everyone was dancing and singing along the entire time. The venue itself always reminds me of The Rocky Horror Picture Show when the Transylvanians surround Frank n’ Furter and Co. doing the “Time Warp” in the Lab. Especially when this band takes the stand. It’s fun, campy and filled with a heart warming tribute to not only the late great David Bowie, but anyone who’s lost someone near and dear to them as tears of joy and pain run free down the faces throughout the night especially during “Heroes” and “Under Pressure”. And forget about it whenever they breakout “Blackstar”. These SOTSA events are building a family affair.
Sadly, there is no news on when or where the Sons of the Silent Age will play next, but you can bet when it does, it will be special. Between everyone’s schedules it’s extremely difficult to line something out as Connelly has an ongoing solo career and making special guest appearances with his former band Ministry. And Matt Walker is one of the most sought after session and touring drummers backing bands like Morrissey. Also, not sure if they’ll stick with following Bowie’s album release since this was the end of a solid run of material until 1983’s “Let’s Dance”. Waiting four more years to hear that in that release might be a bit too much but I’m sure a show of the hit’s would be just fine for fans too.
For more on Sons of the Silent Age, click here
For photos from the SOTSA at the Metro, click here
For a video sample of the band live from the Metro, click here