I came across an article in an online publication called the Odessa Journal (click on the name to link to the article) about how “Bowie Night” is returning to a club in Kiev called the Bel Etage Music Hall (identified in the article as the Bel Etage Club). The show features 20 Ukrainian artists performing Bowie songs, with all proceeds from the show going toward Ukraine’s armed forces.
I thought this was worth posting. The more I read about Bowie the more I realize that his music has been inspirational to many people, especially those who feel out of place in society or otherwise oppressed. I then started looking for a video or image to illustrate the post and came across this video, that someone put together last year in support of Ukraine featuring Bowie singing “Heroes” juxtaposed against images relevant to the war. The video also highlights certain lyrics by displaying them against images including the lines, “We can beat them for ever and ever; the shame is on the other side” and “you better not stay” (referring to Russia). The video frames itself by describing “Heroes” as being about the Berlin Wall. While that’s a bit of a stretch, Bowie did perform the song in the shadow of the Wall, where he heard crowds on the Eastern side of the wall cheering. He later told an interviewer, “ “It was like a double concert where the wall was the division. And we would hear them cheering and singing along from the other side. God, even now I get choked up. It was breaking my heart. I’d never done anything like that in my life, and I guess I never will again. When we did ‘Heroes’ it really felt anthemic, almost like a prayer.”
The Bowie concert is sometimes mentioned in stories about the fall of the Wall, which in the larger sense fits into the context of the fall of the Soviet empire. That’s what Putin, the world’s villain, is trying to do now— restore and perhaps expand the Soviet footprint. His dictatorship is more a kleptocracy than ideological, but while he’s sending tanks into Ukraine, he’s sending agents of chaos and disinformation into democratic nations, including our own, to undermine citizens’ support of democratic institutions and weaken globally resistance to his expansionist scheme.
Bowie surely wrote many songs about tyrants, oppression and war. Too many to discuss in this brief post, but I couldn’t help think that a Bowie cover show at a nightclub in Kiev has a small place in the story of the residence of a people at the forefront of a global battle between good and evil.