A Bowie Celebration

The Bowie Celebration came to Los Angeles....
A Bowie Celebration

A Bowie Celebration

As I made my way into the much-anticipated “A Bowie Celebration” at Los Angeles’ Orpheum Theatre on Thursday, February 7th, the crowd’s predominant aesthetic of shearling coats, high waist jeans, and sparkly boots made me feel as if I were about to see a show off the Diamond Dogs Tour in 1974. The audience ranged in all ages, showcasing the diversity to which the artist appealed, proving the timelessness of his music. The show began with Bernard Fowler’s haunting take of “Bring Me the Disco King”, already setting a high bar for everyone to follow. He was then accompanied by Earl Slick for “Rebel Rebel”, which energized the crowd with expectations for what the rest of the evening would hold.

Billed as “The Bowie Alumni Tour,” the show is probably one of the more authentic Bowie tributes around, because the band includes some of the biggest names that actually worked with the artist himself. Most notable among these include Mike Garson, a pianist and Bowie’s longest band member who played on studio albums from Aladdin Sane all the way to Reality; Earl Slick, the legendary guitarist who can be heard on some of Bowie’s biggest hits like “Fame” and “Golden Years”; and Carmine Rojas, the bassist on ‘80s classics such as “Let’s Dance” and “China Girl”.

This “core” group is further augmented by a number of musicians who, although have no direct connection, are obviously themselves, big fans of his music. Among these devotees are Corey Glover of Living Colour, Joe Sumner of Fiction Plane (and Sting’s son), and Evan Rachel Wood, an actress and musician best known today for her role on HBO’s Westworld. Thus, equal parts high school reunion, nostalgia trip, and church service, the show certainly has the perfect formula to create a memorable yet faithful experience for fans to relive the music of their hero.

I did notice, however, that perhaps this “Celebration” isn’t to emulate Bowie’s moves, his vocal style or even his demeanor, but more to highlight each artist’s individual take on it. I couldn’t help but feel as though some renditions sounded more like a sort of ‘Bowie Week’ on American Idol, and at times performances seemed a bit over-exaggerated, as if to showcase one’s own talents. The musicians who played with the artists in the past delivered a very solid Bowie-esque performance, yet the artists who did not made me wonder at times whether I were watching a tribute or a talent show. I believe the audience could’ve made it through without having to watch Sumner jump off the drum platform, which only made me relive teenage memories of watching John Feldman from Goldfinger perform live, far more than Bowie.

Charlie Sexton, who worked on the Never Let Me Down record, on the other hand, had the presence the audience might’ve been hoping for. As he took to the stage to perform “Space Oddity”, I did a double take, as I was certain for a split second that it was actually Bowie live. The slim figure, well-fitted trousers, chiseled face, confidence and poise felt eerily similar to the Thin White Duke himself. This is when it hit me that I was attending something quite special, and the closest I would ever get to see David Bowie live again.

Corey Glover’s cover of “Young Americans” featured spectacular jaw-dropping vocals. Other highlights included a sultry rendition of “Wild is the Wind” performed by Bernard Fowler and Gaby Moreno and another number sung by Moreno, “Five Years.” Much to the audience’s surprise, Evan Rachel Wood’s vocals, as well as stage presence, were impeccable. She took to the stage with “Rock and Roll Suicide” in a way that was never lackluster, but never over the top.

Overall, with all minor issues aside, it was an inspiring ode to the man who broke the hearts of many when he left this world far too early. Granted, his music will live on in its timelessness, which is, and always shall be, celebrated.

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Concert Reviews