‘Celebrating David Bowie’ a High-Quality Show, Ironically Missing Star Power


There was an obvious buzz surrounding this Los Angeles stop on the Celebrating David Bowie tour. It’s a music town, after all, packed with plenty of potential surprise concert guests. It was a little bit of a letdown then that the only unannounced guest vocalist was Corey Glover (of Living Colour), who nevertheless did a great job with “Young Americans.” Instead, the audience was treated to many of Bowie’s best songs performed by plenty of Bowie touring and recording alumni. What it lacked in star power surprises, it more than made up for with high quality music.

Pianist Mike Garson acted as the evening’s master of ceremonies by introducing each vocalist and song, in addition to playing inspired jazzy piano, including reprising his recorded part for “Aladdin Sane.” The night’s highlights included Fantastic Negrito’s unique take on “Jean Genie,” which began as straight blues, before going into the song’s familiar chords and melody. Vocalist Gaby Moreno received a long ovation for her powerful sustained notes during “Five Years.” Oddly, Perry Farrell’s rendition of “Man Who Sold the World” sounded like the cover of a non-Bowie song at first, primarily because many of us were first introduced to the track when Nirvana memorably covered it. Bernard Fowler, who’s worked with the Rolling Stones for many years, both opened and closed the show, with many turns in between. He opened with “Disco King,” which Bowie had once closed his shows with, and ended with the celebratory and encouraging “Heroes.

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Two Hours and 26 Bowie Songs

This two-hour, 26-song show revealed just how many iconic songs Bowie recorded. You could easily build a Bowie tribute concert around his historic collaborations with Brian Eno alone. However, this setlist found room for everything from the oldie “Space Oddity,” to Bowie’s biggest hit, “Let’s Dance.” Although these may not have been huge pop hits, songs like “Rock n Roll Suicide,” “Life on Mars,” “All the Young Dudes” (all performed this night) belong right up there with the greatest rock songs of all time. One imagines it must be difficult for even diehard Bowe fans to pick an all-time favorite song.

Although Bowie’s in 2016 death is recent enough for many fans to still be grieving his passing, this concert was by no means morbid. As its moniker promised, this was a night of celebration. These musicians and singers were sincerely touched by Bowie’s renegade persona, so the evening simply offered an occasion to express their deep appreciation.

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