Former David Bowie collaborator considered halting tour after singer's death

TORONTO - Fans of David Bowie gathered at a jam-packed Toronto concert hall on Tuesday to pay tribute to the beloved performer with a spirited event focused almost solely on the music.

See Full Article

What could've become a spectacle for the colourful personas Bowie created over the decades instead turned into a deep-dive into his 1970s album catalogue, led by Holy Holy, a band comprised of former Bowie collaborators.

But the show almost didn't happen.

"We actually had to talk about whether we were going to perform more on this tour," Bowie's longtime producer Tony Visconti told the sold-out audience of nearly 900 people.

"There is no better way to work through grief (than) through music. Music is magic. It's better than any pill to take, it's better than any drug."

Holy Holy, which is devoted to recreating Bowie's groundbreaking early albums, features Visconti and Bowie's former drummer Mick (Woody) Woodmansey.

It was after Bowie's death on Sunday due to cancer that Visconti said the band had to consider whether it was appropriate to continue the tour.

"We're going to celebrate the life of David Bowie," Visconti said.

"This is some of the best music that's ever been written."

The timing couldn't be more coincidental for the concert at the Opera House in Toronto. The event was scheduled months ago as part of a North America tour, but only sold out after word spread of Bowie's death.

On Tuesday morning, the band announced that due to overwhelming demand, it added a second Toronto show to be held Wednesday.

After Visconti introduced the show, he slipped into the background as frontman Glenn Gregory took on the role of Bowie for nearly two hours, channeling just enough of his energy to seem authentic, without veering into sheer imitation.

They began by performing Bowie's 1970 album "The Man Who Sold The World" in its entirety before charging through other favourites from the Ziggy Stardust era.

Audience members sang along to a spirited rendition of "Changes," and fell silent as Visconti's daughter Jessica - the band's backup singer - performed "Lady Stardust."

The evening closed with "Suffragette City" as fans tossed roses onto the stage. Visconti picked one up and held it aloft.

Outside the venue after the show, people talked about the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"Tonight was an amazing go-back down memory lane," self-professed lifetime fan Philip Cotterill said.

"I had to fight back the tears."

Others described the concert as a moment of emotional healing as they came to terms with the singer's death.

"Bowie was the guy who did the soundtrack to my teenage years, so when he died it was almost like a mate died," said David Seggie.

"I've known Bowie longer than I've known my husband," interjected his wife Lesley Finn.

Some people celebrated Bowie by dressing in vibrant costumes inspired by his colourful career.

"I had a crisis getting ready for tonight," said Sarah Blostein, who arrived with a painted lightning bolt streaked across her face, evoking Bowie's 1973 "Aladdin Sane" album cover.

"I thought, if I can't do him justice it's going to break my heart."

Visconti told the crowd that Holy Holy's tour had "total approval" from Bowie before his death.

"Technically, we are not a tribute band - we are the real dudes," he said, as the audience cheered.

Several times during the show the band noted that their heightened emotions might get the best of them on stage, though they got through the evening without a hitch.

Woodmansey formed Holy Holy in 2013. He was Bowie's drummer from 1970 to 1973 and worked on several of his albums.

Visconti was Bowie's producer throughout his entire career, from Bowie's 1969 album "Space Oddity" to his recently released "Blackstar." He plays bass in Holy Holy. The band also features Gregory on vocals and James Stevenson on lead guitar.

Next month, Visconti will lead a house band for a Bowie memorial concert at New York's Carnegie Hall. The event had been scheduled months ago as a tribute concert with performances of Bowie songs by 20 artists, including Cyndi Lauper, the Roots and Ann Wilson of Heart.

Numerous other Bowie tributes will take place over the coming weeks, including a segment during the Brit Awards in late February.

Bowie's death has also sparked a renewed interest in his back catalogue.

On iTunes in Canada, several of his classic hits have spiked on the singles chart. On Tuesday morning, "Space Oddity" was at No. 3, "Changes" was the 11th best-selling single and the new track "Lazarus" was at No. 12. Almost two dozen other Bowie tracks filled the Top 100.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Radiohead defies boycott calls for Israel concert

    Entertainment CTV News
    Radiohead defied calls to boycott Israel over its occupation of Palestinian territory and played for tens of thousands in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, with singer Thom Yorke having dismissed critics as patronising. The band made no reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the pioneering rock group made its way through a more than two-hour set at the Park Hayarkon outdoor venue with some 47,000 in attendance. Source
  • Malaysia bans 'Despacito' on state radio, TV due to lyrics

    Entertainment CTV News
    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malaysia has banned "Despacito" on state radio and television, though it might be hard to slow the song’s record-breaking popularity. The ban applies only to government-run radio and TV outlets, not to music streaming services or global entertainment providers like YouTube. Source
  • Watts asked to direct sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Director Jon Watts has been invited back into the world of Marvel to take charge of the Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel. The new blockbuster, which stars Tom Holland as the web-slinging superhero, debuted earlier this month with an impressive $117 million haul, making it the third-biggest North American opening of the year so far. Source
  • Degrassi Bling: Drake flaunts $8.25 royalty cheque from his TV show on Instagram

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- Drake sings about "Fake Love," but he's showing fans some real cash on Instagram. The Toronto-raised performer uploaded a photo showing an $8.25 royalty cheque he recently collected from his appearance on teen series "Degrassi: The Next Generation" more than a decade ago. Source
  • Stevie Wonder weds for third time

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Soul man Stevie Wonder has wed for the third time. The singer/songwriter exchanged vows with Tomeeka Bracy over the weekend, and also served as the headline entertainment after pals John Legend, Usher, and Pharrell Williams performed for the newlyweds. Source
  • Jada Pinkett Smith was a drug dealer when she met Tupac

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Actress Jada Pinkett Smith was a drug dealer when she first met late rapper Tupac Shakur. The Matrix Reloaded star has always maintained she befriended the Changes hitmaker when they attended Baltimore’s School of Arts in Maryland together, but now she has opened up about the real story behind their relationship. Source
  • San Diego Comic-Con kicks off as comics struggle to find footing

    Entertainment CBC News
    Calling all superheroes, sci-fi fans and genre lovers of all kinds: Comic-Con is here. The annual pop-culture celebration kicks off Wednesday night with a preview of the San Diego Convention Center's showroom floor: 460,000 square feet of TV, film and video game displays, along with toys, art and comic books for sale. Source
  • 'We're the seeds that sprouted this massive tree:' Comic-Con comic sellers feel squeezed out

    Entertainment CBC News
    Calling all superheroes, sci-fi fans and genre lovers of all kinds: Comic-Con is here. The annual pop-culture celebration kicks off Wednesday night with a preview of the San Diego Convention Center's showroom floor: 460,000 square feet of TV, film and video game displays, along with toys, art and comic books for sale. Source
  • ‘Girls Trip’ review: Comedy nails it with winning script, A-team stars

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Get ready to know the name Tiffany Haddish. If there were such a thing as Comedy Oscars, she would win for “Girls Trip .” Like Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids,” Haddish steals this film from her big-name co-stars: Queen Latifah, Regina Hall and Jada Pinkett Smith. Source
  • 'DuckTales' is back. Yes, 'DuckTales.' Woo-oo.

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Disney's most famous duck family is preparing for a highly anticipated comeback. The animated series "DuckTales" ran from 1987 to 1990, starring Scrooge McDuck and his young triplet nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie; Mrs. Beakley and her granddaughter Webby Vanderquack; and flight plan-challenged pilot Launchpad McQuack. Source