Over the last few days a lot has been written and read about the life and career of David Bowie. But for 2 hours on Tuesday night in Toronto, that all went away and a sold out crowd at The Opera House celebrated and remembered the icon that he was the best way we knew how… through his music.
Led by long-time Bowie collaborators and friends, bass player Tony Visconti and drummer Woody Woodmansey, the all-star band offered a chance for fans young and old to sing and dance and remember the ways that David Bowie’s music made them feel throughout their lives. The capacity crowd was a testimony to the length and continued relevance of a career that may never be matched by a musician of the current generation. There was boomers and hipsters and Ziggy Stardust facepaint and vintage t-shirts and everything in between. And for 1 night it didn’t matter at all. Nobody cared which album you loved best. Nobody questioned how long you’d been a fan, or if you had a stack of albums at home.
The only thing that mattered was that all 900 people in the audience were there because of David Bowie.
Before Holy Holy took the stage to start the show, Visconti and Woodmansey addressed the crowd. Visconti did most of the talking, with emotion dripping from his voice. He started, “yesterday (Monday) was almost the worst day my my life” and as he continued we all got on the same page, and cheered when he added that “there’s no better way to work through grief than music… it’s better than any pill or drug.”
The introduction was closed by Woody, who added – “You’re supposed to have a good night tonight. That’s a fucking order!”
The band was in Toronto for a pre-scheduled show to play 1970’s The Man Who Sold The World, along with other Bowie hits. And while the dynamic changed with the passing of David Bowie, that’s exactly what they did.
Lead singer Glen Gregory was exceptional in delivering the songs, one by one, and making us all feel the power and purpose of the lyrics and emotions that filled The Opera House.
The band played the album, in order, front to back, starting with The Width Of A Circle, hitting us with the title track at number 8, and finishing with The Superman. There were cheers throughout, dancing where space permitted, a lot of swaying and hands in the air – and the sounds of voices singing along could be heard at all times at various volumes.
After the album was done the band continued with a selection of Bowie’s hits. And while nobody got to hear all of their favourites, because that show would have got long, long into the night… we did get to hear (among others, sorry I don’t have the full setlist) these greats.
ϟ Five Years
ϟ Moonage Daydream
ϟ Oh You Pretty Things
ϟ Life On Mars
ϟ Ziggy Stardust
ϟ Suffragette City
Note: The show continues again Wednesday night with a repeat performance by Holy Holy. The demand from fans was HUGE, and we’re glad that another 900 people will see the sold out show #2. We’re willing to bet that none of them are going to leave disappointed.
Before we left the show, as the band was getting ready to finish with Suffragette City, I stopped to sign the memorial book that sat open on a table with flowers and candles and records and tapes and pins… and that’s when I felt it most, the lump in my throat and the tears behind my eyes. That’s when it felt like a goodbye. And that sucked.
I have no idea where that book will end up or who will read it. But in the bottom right corner of a page it says this…
The music, memories, and magic live on… forever.
Tuesday was an emotional, and special, and perfect night of remembrance, and feeling, and sharing, and loving art that was made for all of us by a man who did what he did better than any of us can imagine doing.
David Bowie wasn’t in the building… but you’d have a hard time convincing me that he wasn’t with us.