Stardust: Esperanza Spalding, Kyp Malone + More Join The Music Of David Bowie Tribute [Night 2 Photos + Recap]
After the Music of David Bowie tribute kicked off with a spectacular first night at Carnegie Hall Thursday, some of the music world’s biggest stars returned to a legendary New York stage Friday night to pay their respects to David Bowie one cover song at a time. The show at Radio City Music Hall was part of Michael Dorf’s annual Music Of tribute series, which added a second night following the shocking news of Mr. Bowie’s death in January.
After a memorable performance of “Heroes” on Thursday, Jakob Dylan opted for “Sorrow.” Okayplayer favorite and jazz fusionist Esperanza Spalding gave a gorgeous rendition of “If You Can See Me.” Bowie’s ominous 2015 Blackstar track, “Lazarus,” was performed by saxophonist Donny McCaslin. Ron Pope and his band brought Nashville twang to “Moonage Daydream.” Kyp Malone of TV On The Radio gave an ethereal, if not esoteric, performance of “The Bewlay Brothers.” Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis was joined by Sean Lennon for the second night in a row to play his acoustic re-interpretation of “Quicksand.”
More performance art than simple performance, a much-bearded and skirted Michael Stipe whisper-sang through most of “Ashes to Ashes,” and then opened up at just the right moments. English singer and model Karen Olson, in an exquisite open-knit black gown, stole the song from Stipe. This was the first standing ovation from the night. Stripped down. Heartfelt. The piano was clear and true.
At this point in the evening, the crowd was most excited for The Pixies, who were the only act to perform their own original song, “Cactus,” which Bowie recorded on his 2002 album, Heathen. Joseph Arthur, leather-panted, sunglassed and loose-scarfed like the archetypal rock star, looped upon looped his guitar, and then shredded an electric solo atop. Polyphonic Spree brought us to church, literally, when they came out in full white robes, each with a brightly-colored trim. The Dallas choral group played their dreamy cover of “Slip Away,” Bowie’s tribute to 1970s New Jersey TV personality Uncle Floyd.
Amanda Palmer and the great American composer Jherek Bischoff were joined by British singer Anna Calvi and the Kronos Quartet to perform their gorgeous arrangement of “Blackstar.” In this perfectly still, shockingly beautiful performance, Palmer brought us the closest to feeling Bowie’s spirit in the hall that night.
Mumford & Sons took to the stage next to play Ziggy Stardust’s “It Ain’t Easy.” Cat Power’s performance of “Five Years” was powerful. Rickie Lee Jones led a sing-along of “All The Young Dudes.” After singing “Starman” on Thursday, Blondie returned to the stage Friday night to perform “Heroes.” Perry Farrell led another high-energy performance of “Rebel Rebel.” The Flaming Lips put their oddball antics on full display for the second night in a row as Wayne Coyne once again sang “Life On Mars” atop the shoulders of Chewbacca.
For the final number, Choir! Choir! Choir! and the New York City Children’s Chorus were joined by nearly everyone as audience and performers alike fought back tears to sing “Space Oddity.” The sing-a-long, aside from Palmer, Bischoff, Calvi and Kronos Quartet’s “Blackstar,” was the most moving number—standing out amongst the all-star line-up — capping off a sonic salute of the highest order, all in the name of the late eccentric, and all he’d given us, returning to from where he came: Stardust.