By DONNA BALANCIA
Mike Garson’s A Bowie Celebration never fails to amaze but this time around, the show has proven it has a new home in the virtual arena.
It’s difficult to imagine Bowie is gone five years already, but his music stays fresh with new arrangements by some of the best in the business paying honor. And this time, it was the stars who celebrated Bowie.
A David Bowie Celebration: Just For One Day, delivered a three-hour Saturday night show that left the audience wanting more.
Amid a competitive livestream arena, big names came out to celebrate the love of Bowie music, including musicians like Trent Reznor, Boy George, Rick Wakeman and Andra Day. Garson did the emceeing, introducing artists and revealing stories of his work with Bowie.
Duran Duran kicked off the night with a rousing interpretation of “Five Years” in honor of David’s passing five years ago.
“About 20 years ago I had a good time working with The Smashing Pumpkins,” Garson said in introducing William Corgan. The Garson-Corgan duet on “Space Oddity” was impressive and innovative with solid production value. Corgan was in a TV set atop Garson’s piano and dynamic lighting gave the performance an outer-space feel.
Anna Calvi set a touching melancholy tone with the emotive “Bring Me the Disco King.” Perry Farrell and his troupe put on a fun theatrical performance while sounding amazing on “The Man Who Sold the World.”
A David Bowie Celebration veteran, Corey Glover of Living Colour, hit the high notes and carried listeners away on the groove of “Young Americans.” Like a vintage wine, Glover’s voice improves with each tasty note.
Garson’s piano is pure perfection and he covers a range of genres with ease. His stories and anecdotes bookend the performances.
Peter Frampton gave an unforgettable performance of “Suffragette City” and his voice is youthful and clear as a bell.
Macy Gray singing “Changes” was another highlight of the night, with her unique voice that on this tune took on a cool sound almost akin to rap star-meets-Eartha Kitt.
“Slaughter on 10th Avenue” featured Kevin Armstrong on guitar in scarf and cap. Armstrong’s guitar work hits right to the heart of the Bowie sound. Armstrong worked with Bowie over the years going back to Tin Machine.
Trent Reznor brought a mellow performance with “Fantastic Voyage,” and sported a new look. He is probably not the only one to grow long hair during the lockdowns. He followed up with an upbeat and rockin’ version of “Fashion” that won’t soon be forgotten.
Boy George, garbed in black hat and dark suit, gave an almost Cabaret-like performance on “Aladdin Sane” and Ian Hunter gave a classic performance of “All The Young Dudes.” Adam Lambert sang “Starman,” in full multi-colored makeup, green lipstick and winged-bird style pompadour hair. Judith Hill and Andra Day combined for “Under Pressure” that brought out a new arrangement suited for the beautiful voices.
Guitarists Charlie Sexton, Gerry Leonard and Earl Slick, bassist Carmine Rojas and drummer Alan Childs filled out the band, and are among those who knew Bowie best.
The production by Rolling Live was excellent, cleverly edited and with good lighting and excellent sound. This was no “one night only” — it has apparently been the passion for Garson and all participants for the last few months. It would serve Garson and company well to release this great show for all to purchase.