Archive for the ‘Mike Garson’ Category

David Bowie: A Celebration; Orchestrated by Mike Garson. 10 January 2021

bowie 1Yet another streaming event. Well it is all that is available the moment. This one was a bit different. We were promised a 3 hour extravaganza celebrating David Bowie’s birthday and featuring artists from around the world all performing together through the power of modern technology. The whole event was orchestrated and planned by Mike Garson, David Bowie‘s piano player from around 1973 and then throughout his career. The artists ranged from those who names I recognised: Duran Duran, Macy Gray, Boy George, Rick Wakeman, Ian Hunter, Ian Astbury, Joe Elliot, Adam Lambert and Peter Frampton and many others who were less familiar to me (probably because they are more recent and up-to-date than my old guy musical tastes and knowledge). We were also promised a band consisting of musicians who accompanied David Bowie throughout his career: Earl Slick, Carlos Alomar, Tony Visconti, Tony Levin and many others.

The event was originally set to be screened at 2 AM UK time on 9 January (it was being streamed from Los Angeles). So I set my alarm for 1:45 AM and woke up ready, excited and intrigued, for the ongoing proceedings. Unfortunately, after a short delay of a few minutes Mike Garson appeared only to tell us that thebowie mike g event was postponed by one day, due to difficulties relating to Covid. “We’ve been working around the clock for months putting together an amazing show for you. Due to the difficulties in the world and the situation with COVID in Los Angeles, we’ve had to move the show 24 hours to tomorrow at the same time. Hang in there with us – just for one day.” So back to sleep I went.

Now the deal was that you had a 24-hour slot in which to view the three-hour event, so this time I decided not to rise at the early hour of 2 AM. Rather, I settled for watching the event later in the day on Sunday 10 January.

The event itself exceeded all of my expectations. It really made the most of modern technology, seamlessly drawing together artists from all over the world; some live, some I suspect recorded, all on different screens yet all playing together. Fantastic. Mike Garson took us through the whole event, introducing each artist and the song and played piano on all, but one (I will explain this later) of the songs.

bowie duranThe concert started with Duran Duran playing “Five Years”, the opening track of Ziggy Stardust and one of my favourite Bowie songs. I suspect this choice of opener paid tribute to the fact that Bowie sadly passed away almost five years to the day, a few days after his birthday. Now I have lost touch with Duran Duran. It is many years since I have seen them and I used to be a fan in the 80s, back in the day. I was pleasantly surprised how well they delivered, no nailed, this classic track; Simon Le Bon almost spitting out the vocals. A great opener. But there was more to follow. An electric version of “Moonage Daydream”, followed by Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins meandering around the screen in his own TV, lost in a “Space Oddity”. An excellent version of “The Man Who Sold the World”. Gary Barlow punching above his weight throughout “Fame “. And so it went on. Bowie classic after classic, mixed with some less familiar tunes, Mike Garson constantly present on a grand piano. Macy Gray popped up on a screen to the left singing one of my Bowie favourites “Changes”, doing it full justice. A tribute to Mick Ronson and his wonderful version of “Slaughter on 10th Avenue” performed by Kevin Armstrong, bringing back memories of seeing Ronson perform it on his solo tour, in Newcastle City Hall many years ago. bowie joBowie fan, and Def Leopard front man, Joe Elliott sang “Ziggy Stardust” paying tribute to a hero of his youth, as he often does. Ricky Gervais popped up for a moment to introduce “Little Fat Man” harking back to Bowie’s performance of that song on his TV show Extras.

Actor Gary Oldman performed a highly emotional version of “I Can’t Read”, soon followed by a great rocking version of “Suffragette City” performed by none other than Peter Frampton. Ian Astbury of the Cult performed “Lazarus” and then Mike Garson handed over his piano stool to Rick Wakeman who appeared in a virtual box delivering the introduction and wonderful background to “Life on Mars” as he did on the original version so many years ago; the song being performed by new voice Youngblood. Boy George delivered a highly theatrical performance of a trio of classics: “Lady Grilling Soul”, “Time”, “Aladdin Sane”. Then my hero Ian Hunter appeared to the left of the screen and performed his tribute to Bowie “Dandy”, followed by “All the Young Dudes” (of course). Current Queen front man and star in his ownbowie ian h right, Adam Lambert, performed an appropriately dramatic version of “Star man”. I can’t claim to recognise the name Bernard Fowler, but I did recognise the man as a long time singer for the Rolling Stones. He performed a number of songs during the show, and closed the event with a powerful rendition of “Heroes”. A fitting end to an incredible event. One which finally realised the potential of streaming and modern technology. An excellent tribute to a genius who I feel so privileged to have seen in performance several times. David if you were watching somewhere out there I’m sure you would have approved. Mike Garson is to be applauded for doing a wonderful job in putting together an excellent event. After the show the team behind A Bowie Celebration tweeted: “Thank you David. And our thanks to you all for coming together in a world where that has been so difficult. This couldn’t have been done without you, the amazing Bowie alumni family, our special guests and wonderful behind the scenes team at @rollinglivepro.” I even bought a signed copy of Mike Garson’s book! I will post an image of it here when it arrives.

bowie stones singerThe reviews in the press were almost all extremely positive. “In almost impossible circumstances, Garson pulled off a herculean task, doing Bowie proud, at a distance.”(Mark Beaumont in The Independent). “All that was missing was the star himself and the global audience, who were surely out there, singing in their homes.” (Dave Simpson in The Guardian).

Setlist: Five Years (Duran Duran); Moonage Daydream (Lena Hall and Lzzy Hale); Space Oddity (Billy Corgan); The Man Who Sold the World (Perry Farrell and Etty Lau Farrell); Bring Me the Disco King (Anna Calvi); Fame (Gary Barlow); Young Americans (Corey Glover); Can You Hear Me (Gail Ann Dorsey); Sweet Thing / Candidate / Sweet Thing (Bernard Fowler) ; Let’s Dance (Charlie Sexton); Lady Stardust (Judith Hill); Changes (Macy Gray);  Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (Kevin Armstrong); Conversation Piece (Catherine Russell); Rebel Rebelbowie rick w (Charlie Sexton); Win / Ziggy Stardust (Joe Elliott); Quicksand (Taylor Momsen); DJ / Blue Jean (Charlie Sexton); Where Are We Now? (Michael C. Hall); Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide (Dave Navarro, Taylor Hawkins, Chris Chaney); Little Fat Man (Corey Taylor; introduced by Ricky Gervais); Hang On to Yourself (Corey Taylor, Dave Navarro, Taylor Hawkins, Chris Chaney); I Can’t Read (Gary Oldman); The Jean Genie (Jesse Malin); Strangers When We Meet (Gail Ann Dorsey); Suffragette City (Peter Frampton); Fantastic Voyage (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross); Fashion     (Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Mariqueen Maandig); Lazarus (Ian Astbury); Life on Mars? (YUNGBLUD and Rick Wakeman); Lady Grinning Soul / Time / Aladdin Sane (Boy George and Charlie Sexton);  Dandy /All the Young Dudes (Ian Hunter); Starman (Adam Lambert); Under Pressure (Judith Hill and Andra Day); Heroes (Bernard Fowler); Ashes to Ashes (Instrumental over credits).