Stardust: Blondie, Cyndi Lauper + More Pay Tribute To The Music Of David Bowie [Night 1: Photos + Recap]
“Even if he’s not here, he’s here.” These words prefaced a glorious rendition of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World,” delivered by R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe at Night One of Carnegie Hall's Tribute to The Music Of David Bowie. The guest of honor should have been there last night as well. But as we all know, Bowie took his final breath just moments before the announcement that his music was to be honored at Michael Dorf’s annual Music Of concert at Carnegie Hall.
In the hours after Bowie’s untimely death, there was an outpouring of love, support and tributes within the music world at large, from fans and creators alike. And so the tribute, now a memorial, fast expanded to include the likes of…. It also added a second night at Radio City. Both shows sold out within moments.
And while the absence of our Roots family was certainly felt, the end result was nothing short of spectacular. Outside of Carnegie Hall, fans, a few rocking Ziggy Stardust-inspired outfits and painted faces, gathered for what some might consider the final goodbye to the most dynamic musician of our time.
Inside the historic venue, more than 20 of the world’s most celebrated musicians paid their respects one cover at a time. Cyndi Lauper opened the show with a glammed-out take on "Suffragette City” backed by Bowie’s longtime collaborators, HoLY HoLY. Led by Tony Visconti, the group remained at the helm for much of the night, backing everyone from Bowie contemporaries like Blondie’s Debbie Harry, Ann Wilson of Heart, Robyn Hitchcock, Laurie Anderson and queen of soul Bettye LaVette to Bowie disciples such as Perry Farrell, Cat Power and Gogol Bordello.
Folk-rocker Joseph Arthur took to the stage to play a solo electric guitar ballad version of “The Man Who Sold the World.” The singer-songwriter from Akron drew a resounding applause when he revealed an American flag with the words “FUCK TRUMP.” The Mountain Goats played “Word On A Wing” with frontman John Darnielle on the piano. After appearing on The Tonight Show Wednesday to debut his cover of “The Man Who Sold the World,” Stipe took the stage to play another Bowie classic, “Ashes to Ashes.” The Flaming Lips, not surprisingly, were outrageous. The group’s frontman Wayne Coyne donned a light-up robe as he played “Life on Mars” atop Chewbacca. Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis was joined by Sean Lennon for an acoustic reinterpretation of “Quicksand.”
The night ended on an emotional high as Choir! Choir! Choir! and the New York City Children’s Choir led a massive singalong to “Space Oddity.”
Michael Dorf presents the Music of David Bowie returns tonight at Radio City Music Hall with even more special guests. The concert is streaming live here for a donation.