The Flaming Lips, Michael Stipe, Pixies, Cyndi Lauper, Debbie Harry and many more were among the artists to take the stage Thursday night at Carnegie Hall in the first of two all-star Music of David Bowie tributes.
At the event, the Flaming Lips covered “Life on Mars?,” a track the band have covered countless times in the past, dating back to the band’s 1992 Peel Session. But what made Thursday’s performance unique is a cosmically clothed Wayne Coyne delivering the Hunky Dory track while sitting atop the shoulders of someone dressed in a Chewbacca costume.
Stipe, who made his first late-night show appearance as a solo artist on The Tonight Show to sing “The Man Who Sold the World,” had a different Bowie classic prepared for his Carnegie Hall performance, recruiting Karen Elson for a hushed, piano-driven take on “Ashes to Ashes.” “David Bowie was a hippie before he was a spaceman. I was a hippie when I was 12 years old,” Stipe prefaced before the performance.
Pixies offered up an interesting performance for the Bowie tribute, opting to perform their own Surfer Rosa track “Cactus” – a song Bowie covered for his own 2002 LP Heathen – but in the style in which Bowie interpreted it. After the second verse – where the band usually spells “P-I-X-I-E-S” letter-by-letter as on their original version – they replaced that with “B-O-W-I-E” for the Carnegie Hall rendition.
The second of the Music Of David Bowie tributes takes place Friday at Radio City Music Hall.