On Friday night the world was ‘treated’ to a BBC Proms special on the work of the late great David Bowie in a concert in front of a sell out crowd at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The Proms has been running on the BBC for years and generally doesn’t appeal to anyone under the age of 60 but with Bowie thrown in there the night suddenly became intriguing.
The evening had been built up as a ‘fitting tribute and imaginative rethink of Bowies work.’ During the introduction one guest explained: “We want to display how Bowie’s music can transcend through all genres.” On paper this sounded great but the next 2 hours that followed demonstrated why twisting Bowie masterpieces isn’t always the best way to celebrate a legacy.
The show included a whole array of talented musicians, singers and composers but that wasn’t enough to save it, the show was a sinking ship from the beginning. The whole performance seemed forced; it felt as if they were trying to be creative for the sake of being creative, like some sort of posh, arty karaoke.
There were some watchable parts however, notably Paul Buchannan’s brilliant version of Ashes to Ashes and I can’t give everything away from the Bowies parting ‘Blackstar’ album. But a murderous attempt by Marc Almond at Life on Mars and other abysmal tries at classics was enough to ruin any gig.
Viewers didn’t react too kindly on social media with one posting: “This is the worst thing that has ever happened in the entire history of everything #BowieProm.” Another posted: “A woeful massacre of Bowies genius.” Which yes is a bit of an overreaction but understandable, they must have subconsciously known they were ruining the songs.
The whole idea of a tribute concert was great but it’s baffling why they couldn’t have had it without changing the layouts of the songs. Even if it was with the same musicians it would be fine- just as long as they didn’t mess with the songs. We already knew that Bowie’s creativity in his tunes could progress through any genre; we didn’t need an underwhelming concert to prove that. Every Bowie song written already had a twist and that twist is Bowie himself.
Overall a big hit and miss but coming from a sincere place, the biggest positive to take from the ordeal is that we now know (as if we didn’t before) that only Bowie can do Bowie.
Written by: Brandon Cook / @brandon_cook4