Lovers Lane
Copernicus Center

Live Review and Photo Gallery: Celebrating David Bowie at Copernicus Center • Chicago

| October 15, 2022

Celebrating David Bowie

Copernicus Center

Chicago, IL

October 14, 2022

Review and photos by Jeff Elbel

The Celebrating David Bowie tour brought its star-powered musicians and the late Bowie’s star-powered songs to Copernicus Center on Friday. The show delivered on its namesake promise with a generous 30-song set of adventurous selections for diehard Bowie fans alongside popular favorites for the curious. The show was led onstage by guitarist and singer Angelo “Scrote” Bundini, who directed the talent of a tight band and drew on the personalities and strengths of four very different lead singers and instrumentalists.

Former Bowie sideman, avant-pop guitarist, and 1990 Sound+Vision Tour musical director Adrian Belew was first into the spotlight, opening the show with “Sound and Vision” from 1977’s experimental Low. Polymath producer/player Todd Rundgren brought his blue-eyed soul croon to “Young Americans,” accompanied by Ron Dziubla’s wailing tenor saxophone. Theatrically-minded Fishbone frontman Angelo Moore emerged in a shadowy cape and face paint for an arresting “Moonage Daydream.” Spacehog singer Royston Langdon followed Moore’s selection from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by lending his glam-perfect vocal to the album’s flamboyant and show tune-styled closer “Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide.”

The show whipsawed through the Bowie catalog, careening from classics like 1969’s cinematic “Space Oddity” directly into “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” from 2013’s return-to-action The Next Day. Classics like the operatic “Life on Mars?” shared space with the industrial and electronica tones heard in “Hallo Spaceboy” and “I’m Afraid of Americans.”

Moore and Rundgren brought theatrical flair, appearing in a new outfit with every return to the stage. Moore appeared in capes, classic clown attire reminiscent of Bowie’s Scary Monsters photo sessions, and dazzling suits attuned to different songs. He wore a sparkling red suit while strutting to “John, I’m Only Dancing” and a harlequin-themed yellow suit for “Blue Jean.” Rundgren appeared as a gleaming silver alien during his expressive version of “Space Oddity” and offered an interpretive dance as he made his way offstage during Dziubla’s majestic sax solo.

Langdon stuck to a single outfit but looked sharp in a white fedora and matching white-rimmed sunglasses while playing guitar, piano, and singing. Belew was dressed in a basic white t-shirt but had worn his finest red shoes to dance the blues. Belew’s firepower was centered in his bracing vocal performances on songs like “Boys Keep Swinging” and his instantly identifiable and outside-the-box guitar style deployed on songs like “Fame.” Belew covered former King Crimson bandmate Robert Fripp’s off-kilter and angular guitar leads during “Fashion.” Before unleashing his signature weird sonics and backward guitar sound, Belew played sharp funk guitar while Rundgren played a gritty solo for “Stay.”

Scrote and Belew joined their guitars to create the sounds of a chugging locomotive to introduce “Station to Station,” which saw Rundgren reemerge to sing about “the return of the Thin White Duke.” Belew sustained a broken string during his own Bowie-penned single “Pretty Pink Rose,” forcing him to throw his final solo back to bandleader Scrote, who gamely obliged.

The tour’s Chicago date included a special one-night-only treat, with a guest appearance by local hero and soul singer Ava Cherry. A key collaborator on Bowie’s Young Americans album, Cherry sang the album’s “Win” and then returned for the show’s last several songs.

Langdon sang “Ziggy Stardust” to perfection, demonstrating how strongly Spacehog had pulled from Bowie’s peak glam-rock run between Hunky Dory and Aladdin Sane. Langdon kept the crowd on its feet and moving during a sultry “Let’s Dance,” anchored by the tight rhythm section created by Angeline Saris’ slinky bass and Travis McNabb’s rock-solid drumming. Moore added wild theremin solos on songs like the sly and funky “Ashes to Ashes” to accompany many of Belew’s leads. The pair shared a collegial fist bump upon finishing the song. Introduced as one of the biggest David Bowie fans on the planet by Scrote, Moore responded in the affirmative. “I like doin’ the Bowie!” he exclaimed.

A rowdy duet of “Rebel Rebel” between Moore and Cherry included an offstage excursion by Moore deep into the audience. Moore stood on the seats, singing call-and-response vocals with their occupants, and stoking the audience to a fever pitch. The main set closed as Rundgren led a swaying singalong to “All the Young Dudes.” As the band prepared to exit, Cherry declared, “David’s smiling on us now!”

The band encored with a lusty “Suffragette City,” which became all the more raucous when Moore pulled dozens of people onto the stage to dance. The evening came to a satisfying conclusion with a rapturous arm-in-arm singalong to “Heroes.”

The catalog cross-section and presentation of Celebrating David Bowie diverged substantially from that of Bowie pianist Mike Garson’s tribute A Bowie Celebration. The differences suggested that there’s room for both groups to feed fans’ desire to hear and see David Bowie’s beloved songs performed live and delivered by artists who draw deeply from his well.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Featured, IE Photo Gallery, Live Reviews

About the Author ()

Comments are closed.