I don’t really know why I’m even going to try to verbally describe the magic that transpired Friday night at the Music of David Bowie Tribute at Radio City Music Hall, but here we are. It was the second evening (due to an understandably high demand) of the show (the proceeds from which will benefit a variety of youth music organizations), and the lineup of performers was maximally stacked; we’re talking Ann Wilson, Michael Stipe, Mumford & Sons, Joseph Arthur, The Polyphonic Spree, TV on the Radio, Pixies, Cat Power, Blondie, Amanda Palmer + Anna Calvi, The Flaming Lips…I mean, the list goes on and on and on // IT WAS INCREDIBLE, and I feel so so SO lucky to have been in attendance.
It seems a little weird to go around picking favorites from such a heavy-hitting bill (especially when the show is to honor someone as other-worldly as David Bowie), but I’m going to do it anyway (because that’s what recaps are for, right?); stand-outs included a whispery, downtempo version of “Ashes to Ashes” performed by Michael Stipe and Karen Elson, J Mascis and Sean Lennon’s take on “Quicksand” (which featured some hugely beautiful guitar harmonies), Cat Power’s rendition of “Five Years” because her voice can do no wrong, Joseph Arthur’s weird but amazing performance of “The Man Who Sold the World” (which ended in a guitar loop-drenched presentation of an American flag which had “FUCK TRUMP” scrawled across it, much to everyone’s delight), The Polyphonic Spree’s effervescent interpretation of “Slip Away”, and, of course, Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips’ LED-soaked, Chewbacca-mounted “Life on Mars” riff. The best of all, though? Again, it seems weird to play favorites here, but HOLY GOD, the performance of “Blackstar” that Amanda Palmer, Anna Calvi, Jherek Bischoff and the Kronos Quartet did was quite possibly one of THE greatest things I have ever witnessed in my whole entire life. Like, just LOOK AT THIS PURE SORCERY:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2nOrw6NYDE
As if the show itself were not great enough, the after-party at City Winery was equally vibrant and joyous; the house band totally KILLED IT for hours on stage, and there were impromptu vocal cameos by Tim DeLaughter (The Polyphonic Spree), Kyp Malone (TV on the Radio) and more into the early hours of the morning.
In sum, I’d like to give a huge shout-out to the inimitable Michael Dorf for producing the show, as well as all the performers and behind-the-scenes staff and crew for making it happen; it was a pretty unbelievably fantastic homage to Ziggy Stardust, and strong proof that, really, he’s still here.