LIVE: “Celebrating David Bowie” @ The Egg, 2/13/18
Review and photographs by Martin Benjamin
Additional photograph by Glenn Kaplowitz
It is a vivid memory for me. I went over to Homer and Wendy’s basement apartment on Lancaster Street below Washington Park, and Homer told me “You have to sit in that rocking chair, and you have to listen to this.” He had just purchased a new album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie. He dropped the needle and cranked up his impressive stereo and side one started playing. It was a jaw-dropping and what the hell is this experience, and exhilarating at the same time as somewhat frightening to me. Side two did not let up and I left that basement apartment a bit dazed and somewhat confused.
“Celebrating David Bowie” is a tour of musicians, the core of whom played on many of Bowie’s most important albums, along with some special guests singing and playing selections from his extensive catalogue of time-honored songs. For me, tops in the vocals department were Corey Glover [(f Living Colour) and percussionist Gaby Moreno, who came forward to sing five songs during the night. Joe Sumner, Sting’s son, also had a huge part in the show, as well as vocalist Bernard Fowler. Longtime Bowie associates and band mates Mike Garson (front man and keyboards), Earl Slick (guitar), Gerry Leonard (guitar), Carmine Rojas (bass) were the core and that drove the music and made the performance a bona fide “Bowie experience.” Earl Slick’s son was the drummer.
The first song at The Egg’s Hart Theatre to bring the sold-out crowd to their feet was “Young Americans,” and plenty of joy and reverence was on display through performances of “Rebel Rebel,” “Fame,” “Changes,” “Sapce Oddity,” “Ziggy Stardust,” “Suffragette City” and “Life on Mars.” “Five Years” was forcefully and poignantly performed by Gaby Moreno, presenting the reality that Bowie had considered whether life on Earth was sustainable back before the June 1972 release of the album.
The elegant and simple light show and lighting was perfect, and the intimacy of the venue was felt. Corey Glover went all the way up and back to the top rows from the stage and performed a vocal. Mike Garson performed an extended keyboard jam solo that had the rest of the band just sitting without playing, either at their instruments or on the edge of the drum riser. Garson told some great tales about some songs, giving it all more meaning and context. It was not overdone. The band came back for an encore after 20 songs, and ran through a few more songs, including the finale, “Heroes.” A request from the audience for “China Girl” was not fulfilled, but I don’t think anyone left The Egg disappointed.