Des de Moor
Press Cuttings: Darkness and Disgrace

BBC London Live Radio 14 January 2001, approx 19:45 - 20:00 hrs
Photo: Theo Cohen

Mature but not Bowietastic

With Darkness and Disgrace returning to The Rosemary Branch in January 2001, Des de Moor and Russell Churney were invited to appear on BBC local radio station London Live's Entertainment programme. Des and Russell performed two numbers from the show, and also chatted about it to presenter Amy Lamé.

Amy. David Bowie is the subject of a new musical cabaret show which opens at The Rosemary Branch theatre on Tuesday. It's the brainchild of vocalist and club promoter Des de Moor, and Russell Churney, who was known to millions as 'the lovely Russell' when he worked with Julian Clary. Darkness and Disgrace is the name of the show, and here to tell us more, it's Des and Russell. Good evening boys: why David Bowie?

Des. It was the first love, I suppose, the first fan thing when I was in my early teens. As I started to get more interested in popular music it was Bowie that first grabbed me. The first album I ever bought was Aladdin Sane, in 1973, and before that 'Starman' was a track that really gripped me at the time, in 1972, wasn't it?

Amy. Des, are you dating yourself a bit?

Des. I think so, yeah (laughs). I don't mind...mature.

Amy. Yeah, mature David Bowie fans (laughs).

Des. Mind you, not quite as mature as he is.

Amy. Do these songs naturally lend themselves to cabaret treatment?

Des. I think they do. That is my interest, the musical cabaret side of things, and how my own career's developed is very much going in that direction: French chanson, Jacques Brel, Brecht and Weill, all that kind of stuff. I think one of the reasons I started going in that direction is because of Bowie, because these were a lot of the influences that he brought into his work. And they were certainly the things that I picked up on, because when I was eleven or whatever it wasn't the soul and R&B thing...when he did Pinups I was quite surprised, cos that was my first introduction to a lot of 60s pop music. But what I did pick up on was the cabaret side of it, and the very dramatised and...kind of word heavy side of what he did, in songs like 'Time' and stuff like that.

Amy. Cabaret usually focusses on really...French or German singers, y'know, continental Europe, that type of music. Britain isn't terribly known for its cabaret tradition. Russell, how do you bridge that gap? You're there playing your piano, and you've got a pretty hefty bill, don't you?

Russell. Well, I think there is a tradition of cabaret in Britain, it's just always been slightly more underground.

Des. A hidden history.

Russell. Exactly. But I think it's always been there, and it dates back to the Music Hall. There've been quite a number of artistes over the years who've worked in what I think you could describe as a cabaret tradition in this country. But like Des I came to this material from having started out as a fan, a big fan of Bowie in my teens. And a couple of years ago I was doing some work with Des, and he idly mentioned that he'd always had this vague yen to put together a whole show of David Bowie songs, and I said, well that sounds like fun, and about a year later he said, right, we're doing it in two months time (laughs).

Des. We started with 'Time', didn't we?

Russell. We started with 'Time', yes.

Des. As part of my "Des de Moor in concert"-type things.

Amy. So what's in and what's out then? What songs have you included in the show?

Des. We've gone for a huge range. We start out in the 60s with 'Please Mr Gravedigger' and...erm, we don't do it chronologically but going through the show, they're all mixed up in the show, but, 'Please Mr Gravedigger' and...

Russell. 'London Boys'.

Des. Then there's stuff from The Man Who Sold The World, from Aladdin Sane, stuff from Diamond Dogs...we kind of miss out on the 80s a bit.

Amy. Erm, yeah I think that's...(laughs)

Russell. For obvious reasons.

Amy. You're very kind (laughs).

Des. The most recent one is 'I Have Not Been To Oxford Town', which is from Outside in '95.

Russell. But we've avoided mostly the big hits. We've gone for album tracks rather than the real obvious 'Space Oddity', 'Ashes to Ashes', 'Let's Dance' kind of stuff.

Amy. So you're the real trainspotter types.

Des. Well, partly that, partly because all the material is quite well known. A lot of people have got complete Bowie album collections so it's not that you're doing something that's completely obscure. And secondly because I think it's a matter of looking for material that's gonna work in the format that we're using.

Amy. Well, you're gonna play a number for us now, aren't you? What're you gonna play?

Des. 'Diamond Dogs', which is the first...apart from 'Future Legend', which we do a version of, to start off. We go into 'Diamond Dogs' as the first tune.

Russell. Here it is.

Des. Here it is.

(They perform 'Diamond Dogs').

Amy. Great stuff from Russell Churney and Des de Moor, 'Diamond Dogs'. Now, does David Bowie know you're doing this?

Des. I'm not sure, frankly (laughs). Somebody who I'm in contact with says they are trying to get somebody who's played drums with him to come down, and the email finished saying "Who knows who might turn up?" Actually I think we'd probably be dreading that, if he was in the front row! (laughs)

Amy. D'you dress up like him?

Des. No!

Amy. No?

Des. We've done some publicity shots with the streak and stuff but, no, I don't think it's quite our style, really. It's not a tribute show. That was probably fairly obvious from that version, it's very much re-interpretations, our own re-interpretations of the tunes.

Amy. So you're not, I dunno, Bowietastic, like, y'know, Nowaysis and Counterfeit Stones...

Des. Oh dear no. I had to work hard enough to get it out of my voice when I started off singing, y'know, it was obviously a big influence. I try not to get the inflections in there.

Amy. Now, the title Darkness and Disgrace comes from a Bowie song as well, doesn't it?

Des. It comes from 'Lady Stardust', which was his paean to Marc Bolan on Ziggy Stardust, and we're gonna do that as well, if you wanna hear it.

Amy. Excellent. We'd love to hear it. D'you wanna have a go?

(They perform 'Lady Stardust').

Amy. Mmmm, Des de Moor and Russell Churney. Darkness and Disgrace, their theatre show all about the life and times of David Bowie, music and theatrical links as well, is on at The Rosemary Branch Theatre, Shepperton Road in Islington from Tuesday 16 January until the 28 of January. Shows start at 8pm except Sundays, when performances are at half past four.

Des. Four o'clock.

Amy. Sorry, excuse me, four o'clock. Tickets are £7.50 and you can book by phoning 7704 6665. Thanks very much, Des and Russell, for joining me this evening.

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