Two years after the Starman’s return to the celestial plane, Berlin hasn’t stopped commemorating its favourite adopted son.
If you’re a certain kind of Berlin music nerd, you’ll remember exactly where you were on January 11, 2016: on the pavement outside Hauptstraße 155 in Schöneberg, sobbing along to a mass a capella rendition of “Space Oddity” in front of a makeshift shrine of candles, flowers and old album covers. Two years later, the shrine has been replaced by a small plaque and the pilgrimages have dropped off in their frequency. But as this month’s concerts can attest, the Thin White Duke has been far from forgotten.
Just take a look at all the Bowie action in January. The tribute act Celebrating Bowie features Bowie’s longtime piano player Mike Garson, as well as guitarists Adrian Belew (Lodger) and Gerry Leonard (Heathen and Reality), who’ll try to guess what Bowie’s setlist would have sounded like in 2018. Prior performances have seen cameo appearances from Sting, Seal and Ewan McGregor, but will any of them make it to Huxleys? You never know.
Meanwhile, nobody at Lido’s Bowie Tribute Berlin ever actually performed with David, but if you play a little Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon you’ll get there: Before moving to Schöneberg in 1976, Bowie briefly lived with the late Edgar Froese of Tangerine Dream, whose current frontman, Thorsten Quaeschning, will be headlining the evening with his band Picture Palace Music. Surely Edgar must’ve told Thorsten some juicy stories about Bowie’s WG habits while passing time on the tour bus? If not, your own bus tour through Bowie’s Berlin (included in a €45 VIP ticket) ought to scratch that trivia itch. It’ll inevitably pass by Hansa Studios, which will be holding their own special-birthday-edition tours of the building from which Bowie once observed Visconti and his mistress “standing by the Wall”.
But enough dwelling in the past. What if Bowie was Danish? Liima doesn’t really answer that question, but frontman Casper Clausen’s style of singing has been compared to the Stjernemand once or twice – and indeed, if you close your eyes hard and listen to “Amerika”, you can almost hear the rich sonorities of Bowie circa 1983.
And yes, just to cram Alt-J in there as well, Britain’s former indie Next Big Thing made tabloid headlines back in 2013 when drummer Thom Green said he’d “be lying if I said I was excited” about Bowie’s return to the stage. One might say the same thing about Alt-J’s return to Berlin in 2017, but while this year’s album Relaxer might not hit the heights of “Life on Mars?”, they at least have their Mercury Prize to fall back on.
Bowie Tribute Berlin 2018 Jan 6, 20:00 Lido
Bowie 71. Birthday Special Jan 6-10 Hansa Studios
Liima Jan 17, 20:00 Festsaal Kreuzberg
Alt-J Jan 18, 20:00 Max-Schmeling-Halle
Celebrating David Bowie Jan 19, 20:00 Huxleys Neue Welt