Singer Tony Vincent. Courtesy of Tonyvincent.com
The Music of David Bowie
The Louisville Orchestra
Brett Havens, conductor
Tony Vincent, vocals
By Kimby Taylor-Peterson
Entire contents copyright © 2017 Kimby Taylor-Peterson. All rights reserved.
Saturday, January 7, just shy of the one year anniversary of his passing, the Louisville Orchestra paid tribute to the music of David Bowie in a spectacular fashion that was worthy of the man. From the first hint of the staging with a full rock band front and center flanked by the orchestra in a way that is more reminiscent of MTV Unplugged than the usual pops concerts, you knew you were going to get a show. And guest vocalist Tony Vincent did not disappoint. He started his career as a rocker, and then entered the world of Broadway rock musicals and both backgrounds were evident. David Bowie’s catalogue of music is incredibly complex and Mr. Vincent, along with our orchestra, made it look effortless. The performance was not an imitation, but remained true to the iconic form and genius spirit of this artist. What made it a true tribute was that Mr. Vincent was clearly a fan and had done his homework, interjecting pertinent facts about David Bowie as well as explaining how certain songs tied into his personal experiences.
I attended with two teenage girls, one of who is a Bowie super fan, and saw several other people mixed among the regular orchestra patrons who were definitely drawn to the event out of love for Bowie. In watching the crowd, you could tell that some of the older patrons were caught off guard and not expecting as much electric guitar as violin, or a singer that was performing as the front man for a rock band complete with the occasional pelvic thrust, full sleeve of ink and manic energy. I do think that they were quietly enjoying it even if they did feel a little naughty.
The super-fan in attendance with me was my 15 year-old daughter, Zoë. When David Bowie passed away, I delivered the news knowing that, for her, this would be like the day John Lennon died had been for a lot of us. I asked her for her thoughts on this night of remembrance. “The orchestra’s performance was not just a celebration of the music, but also the man. One of the best things about Bowie was that he could walk down the street in heels, make-up and a metallic striped suit and everyone would go “Oh, that’s Bowie for you!’ which is amazing. And I felt that.” The closing song was “Life on Mars” which is incredibly poignant. There were a lot of both Bowie and orchestra fans with tears. The point of music and art is to bring people from different worlds together, if only for a moment, in hopes that the moment spreads. Thank you for the moment, Louisville Orchestra.
The Music of David Bowie
January 7, 2017
Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts
501 West Main St
Louisville, KY 40202
Kimby Taylor-Peterson holds a BFA in theatre and minor in music from Western Kentucky University. She is an active member of the Louisville theatre community, both on stage and off, and is a supporter of arts education.