We’ve selected the dozen stand-out performances from Just For One Day: A Bowie Celebration, Sunday’s global streaming event featuring many illustrious artists covering the music of the late Starman himself, David Bowie.
A video message from host/pianist Mike Garson informed streamers there would be a 24-hour delay in bringing us Just For One Day: A Bowie Celebration “…due to circumstances around the world.”
Garson explains they’ve been working tirelessly on this production for three months, under very difficult conditions, in LA to celebrate what would have been the Starman’s 74th birthday. This gives us extra time to clean screens, rearrange speakers, chill champagne and locate favourite chairs in order to optimise our three-plus-hour celebratory streaming experience. And the good news is that the stream is also available for 24 hours, so rewatching is a dead cert.
The husky timbre of Boy George’s vocal adds infuses this exquisite trifecta of songs with a deep resonance. Sporting a stylish black suit and hat, George’s hands and face float in space against the black background – a genius tribute to Bowie’s mime roots, perhaps? The articulation of George’s deliberate hand gestures would suggest so. Such incredible artistry on display! An inspired medley of tunes that obviously spoke vividly to George’s outsider status.
Yungblud & Rick Wakeman: Life On Mars?
This UK kid absolutely crushes it! Wearing a divine blood-red suit and backed by piano and strings, Yungblud sways rhythmically into, and away from, the mic stand, tipping his broken heart out and reducing us to sobbing puddles of tears on the floor. After effortlessly scaling octaves, Yungblud slowly and reverently backs out of the spotlight into the darkness at song’s close. And we’re shook.
Gary Oldman: I Can’t Read
Performing this Tin Machine cover accompanied only by Garson on piano, Gary Oldman doesn’t just sing – he also interprets. Like, Oscar-worthy interprets. What a superstar! And such a powerful singing voice. A transfixing experience.
In one of so many fan favorite moments from last night, Gary Oldman sings I Can’t Read. Watch this and the entire show now for a very limited time today with tickets at https://t.co/UjNJYlU8a8 pic.twitter.com/yqqy58uSrT
— Mike Garson (@mikegarson) January 10, 2021
Garson introduces this Richard Rodgers cover as a tribute to “an unsung hero,” The Spiders From Mars guitarist Mick Ronson. This instrumental appeared on Ronson’s 1974 album of the same name, which Garson played on. Garson dedicates this song to members of the Bowie alumni who are no longer with us, including drummer Dennis Davis and Trevor Bolder (bassist from The Spiders From Mars). Kevin Armstrong’s guitar work is staggering throughout and the complexities of this composition add dramatic flair. Not that we would have thought it were even possible, but Armstrong’s final face-melting guitar solo is actually upstaged by Garson’s keys freakout – we’re not worthy!
Adam Lambert: Starman
“I had to have him on this show,” Garson gushes of Adam Lambert, who chose the song that broke Bowie back in ’72 and proceeds to knock it out of the park and into the stratosphere. With his green colour palette extending to lipstick, glitter hair gel and mic/mic stand – plus décolletage simply dripping with ice – Lambert sparkles, alright. Every coquettish, raised eyebrow is carefully considered; Lambert definitely has fun with it and his performance transcends.
Duran Duran: Five Years
Easily winning Beaus Of The Ball in their delicious couture looks, Duran Duran open the show, reminding us all why they rule. With Garson on piano, Nick Rhodes plays synth while looking suave AF – they all do, and look pretty pleased with themselves to boot. It’s been five years since we lost The Man Who Fell To Earth, but his legacy lives on through generations of artists.
Taylor Momsen: Quicksand
Garson explains Taylor Momsen “got familiar with David’s music” when she was just two years old, adding he’s impressed that she’s chosen a deep cut to perform for this virtual tribute concert. Understated and singing with eyes mostly closed in concentration while seated at the piano, we’ve never heard Momsen sound better! “Don’t believe in yourself/ Don’t deceive with belief/ Knowledge comes with death’s release/ Aah-aah, aah-aah, aah-aah, aah-aah” – perfectly poignant.
Another gorgeous performance from last night’s concert, this one a clip from @taylormomsen singing Quicksand – available along with the entire show today only at https://t.co/UjNJYlU8a8 pic.twitter.com/RxqefdyLBK
— Mike Garson (@mikegarson) January 10, 2021
Perry Farrell & Etty Lau Farrell: The Man Who Sold The World
With Perry Farrell dressed like a dandy vampire and his wife Etty supplying BVs while dancing in sultry fashion, this spectacular performance is further elevated by a masked mimer/signer. Fully choreographed from go to whoa – often with multilayered, crossfading visuals – the final pose sees our mimer placing their crown on Perry’s head in some kind of mock crucifixion as he glances resignedly down at the stage. Theatricality at its finest.
Corey Glover: Young Americans
As well as Garson on piano and extraordinary vocalist Corey Glover, a further 11 musicians and backing singers are beamed up on individual screens for this ensemble performance. There’s a magic moment when Glover hits the sweet spot for “…break down and cryyyyYYYYY!” before the backing band kicks into gear big time, with Garson swaying his head and grinning like The Cheshire Cat. At song’s conclusion, the drummer double-fist pumps his appreciation skyward.
Charlie Sexton: Let’s Dance
Charlie Sexton sounds and looks just like Bowie – from his Cruella De Vil-esque, silver-streaked hair to his chosen moves and posturing. I mean, this song is a banger. Those sax parts, that syncopated beat – we’re up and springing around the living room like air dancers caught in a twister!
Judith Hill: Lady Stardust
“People stared at the makeup on his face/ Laughed at his long black hair, his animal grace/ The boy in the bright blue jeans/ Jumped up on the stage.” Garson back-announces Judith Hill as “the voice of a century,” and he’s not wrong!
Looking like a young Tom Petty, Joe Elliot performs a new arrangement of Win, which Garson explains was created just for this event. Elliot also scores Ziggy Stardust lead singer duty and certainly relishes yelling out “WELL HUNG!” during this number.