s t a r g a z e - THE DAVID BOWIE PROM 2016

August 2, 2016 – 3:07 pm

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s t a r g a z e
The David Bowie Prom [BBC Prom 19, 2CD]

Live at the Royal Albert Hall, London, UK; July 29, 2016. Excellent radio broadcasts.

A celebration and reinterpretation of the music of David Bowie with the Berlin-based, genre-defying musicians collective s t a r g a z e and its Artistic Director André de Ridder. They are joined by guest singers and collaborators - including John Cale, Marc Almond, Neil Hannon, Conor O’Brien, Laura Mvula, Paul Buchanan, Jherek Bischoff, Anna Calvi and Amanda Palmer - to re-imagine the Bowie catalogue with fresh settings of classic works. This is the complete concert patched together from two different BBC broadcasts.

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Hazel Sheffield, The Independent:

The BBC went hard on David Bowie’s death (January 10, 2016). BBC 6Music held a day of special broadcasts.  BBC2 changed its scheduling. Plans for the Bowie prom must have got underway not long afterwards. Stargaze, an orchestral collective known for their work with pop artists like Owen Pallett and Villagers, were asked to turn Bowie’s oeuvre into the stuff of proms.

They start standing in the round at the Royal Albert Hall, playing the brooding Warszawa from Low.

Warszawa was conceived by Brian Eno to invoke the desolation of Warsaw at the time of Bowie’s visit in 1973. While the ensemble play, Neil Hannon from the Divine Comedy enters the stage as Stargaze segue into Station to Station. Amanda Palmer from Dresden Dolls stands behind him on backing vocals. Palmer dispels the somber atmosphere after the song.

“The most important thing is that this is not a wake. This is an artful celebration of some of the most beautiful music in the world,” she tells the audience, who applaud from the many corners of the venue.

Stargaze director Andre de Ridder told the BBC he was a bit nervous before the concert, the first prom to be streamed live on BBC Four, Radio 3 and 6Music. “I hope we’re not overwhelmed!”

In the end they are somewhat by John Cale’s Space Oddity, which turns out dirge-like for the addition of the house gospel choir. The nimble arrangements cannot survive the number of people onstage. Amanda Palmer even brings our her baby for After All, a nightmarish fan favourite from The Man Who Sold The World, which despite best efforts becomes funereal.

radiotimes.com:

There was brilliance at work - but the experiment never quite lifted off… Let’s be clear, it was billed as a “reinterpretation of the music of David Bowie” and put together by a mismatch of musicians who loved/respected/wanted to honour the spirit and avant-garde creativity of Bowie. To that extent it might be deemed a success.

telegraph.co.uk:

For the first time in Proms history, a pop star’s work was treated as seriously as any classical composer. The results may not have been an unqualified success but this richly imaginative, bold, thoughtful, daring and emotional night amply demonstrated that Bowie fully deserves to be considered an all-time great from any perspective.
Cale illustrated everything that is usually so wrong with the mix of pop and orchestral, where all those fantastic instruments simply end up as gilding to a loud band, offering little more than a veneer of sound like a big synthesizer.

Despite obvious flaws and failed renditions, the Bowie Prom was the most thrilling orchestration of pop I have ever seen because it dared to really reimagine the music.

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Thanks to PsyKies for sharing the show at Dime.

PsyKies noted:

Recorded off air from the live BBC Radio Three broadcast 29th July 2016. Source was the BBC HLS 323kbps 48kHz internet stream. As Radio Three did not broadcast the final two tracks these have been patched in from the BBC 6Music radio broadcast.

Audition was used to edit out most of the announcers (one tiny segment remains), increase levels on main broadcast by 6dB, match levels on patch material, crossfade into patch, track and convert to FLAC/44.1kHz. FLAC tagging done using mp3tag and fingerprints generated using TLH.

Front cover picture posted at radiotimes.com.

Lineage:
Source 1 (1 - 19): BBC Radio 3 > 323kbps 48k HLS aac stream > ffmpeg > aac > Audition > FLAC
Source 2 (20 - 21): BBC 6Music > 323kbps 48k listen again stream > RMC7 > FLV (aac) > Audition > FLAC

Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (224 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

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Disc 1
Track 100a. Radio Three introduction 2:12 (3.7MB)
Track 100b. 6Music introduction and interviews 11:43 (19.7MB)
Track 101. Warszaw (aarr s t a r g a z e) 4:35 (7.7MB)
Track 102. Station to Station (Neil Hannon, Amanda Palmer, Conor O’Brien) 7:09 (12.0MB)
Track 103. The Man Who Sold the World (Conor O’Brien) 5:35 (9.4MB)
Track 104. This Is Not America (Elf Kid, Neil Hannon) 5:24 (9.1MB)
Track 105. Life On Mars (Marc Almond, arr Anna Meredith) 5:30 (9.2MB)
Track 106. Lady Grinning Soul (Anna Calvi, Jherek Bischoff, arr Jherek Bischoff) 6:40 (11.2MB)
Track 107. Ashes to Ashes (Paul Buchanan, Jherek Bischoff, arr Jherek Bischoff) 5:59 (10.1MB)
Track 108. Fame (Laura Mvula, arr Greg Saunier) 5:29 (9.2MB)
Track 109. Let’s Dance (arr Greg Saunier) 1:41 (2.8MB)
Track 110. Girl Loves Me (Laura Mvula, Paul Buchanan, arr s t a r g a z e) 5:44 (9.6MB)
68 mins

Disc 2
Track 201. I Can’t Give Everything Away (Paul Buchanan, arr Josephine Stevenson) 6:23 (10.7MB)
Track 202. Blackstar (Anna Calvi, Amanda Palmer, Jherek Bischoff, James McVinnie, arr Jherek Bischoff) 11:33 (19.4MB)
Track 203. Heroes (Anna Calvi, Amanda Palmer, Jherek Bischoff, arr Jherek Bischoff) 4:05 (6.9MB)
Track 204. Always Crashing in the Same Car (Philippe Jaroussky, arr David Lang) 6:16 (10.5MB)
Track 205. Starman (Marc Almond, arr Anna Meredith) 6:39 (11.2MB)
Track 206. Rebel Rebel (Members of the House Gospel Choir, arr Greg Saunier) 1:27 (2.4MB)
Track 207. Valentine’s Day (John Cale, arr John Cale) 6:22 (10.7MB)
Track 208. Sorrow (John Cale, Anna Calvi, arr John Cale) 5:49 (9.8MB)
Track 209. Space Oddity (John Cale, House Gospel Choir, arr John Cale) 9:14 (15.5MB)
Track 210. After All (Conor O’Brien, Marc Almond, Philippe Jaroussky, Amanda Palmer, James McVinnie) 6:31 (11.0MB)
Track 211. Let’s Dance (arr Greg Saunier, Jherek Bischoff) 3:34 (6.0MB)
68 mins

Performers:
Marc Almond singer
Paul Buchanan singer
John Cale singer
Anna Calvi singer
Philippe Jaroussky counter-tenor
Laura Mvula singer
Conor O’Brien singer
Amanda Palmer singer
s t a r g a z e
André de Ridder conductor

Click here to order David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar (2016).

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  1. 6 Responses to “s t a r g a z e - THE DAVID BOWIE PROM 2016”

  2. Hmmm… I watched this and found it to be a very curious affair that sometimes worked, and sometimes fell flat. Credit to s t a r g a z e as the “house band” who performed admirably in spite of some arrangements working better than others. Opinions vary from person to person as to what were the highlights and lowlights and one thing this show was not, nor aimed to be was a karaoke or covers by numbers affair.

    The Blackstar section stood out, I really enjoyed Amanda Palmer and Anna Calvi on that, both performing it wearing crowns of thorns.

    Marc Almond took a hell of a lot of sh*t online following the show which was mean spirited since for me, he stood out. Marc is an acquired taste but he managed to rouse the audience in style and I enjoyed his contributions.

    John Cale was also interesting (he was wearing a pinstripe type dress!) and I loved his interpretation of Valentines Day and fusing the “Waiting For The Man” groove to Sorrow but the dirgey Space Oddity didn’t work for me but hey, it’s John Cale - he can do what he bloody well likes and at least showed some imagination and daring… just like Bowie did throughout his career.

    In many ways it was a fitting event as Bowie’s music splits even the fans with it’s diversity (for instance I never ever want to listen to most of those 80’s albums again) and there was a lot of diversity in this show with highs and lows but it is worthy of investigation and an interesting “celebration” of Bowie’s music.

    By Bruce Skywater on Aug 2, 2016

  3. Just had to comment further having listened to this audio version - the sound balance and mix is actually different to the TV broadcast version as the audience is much quieter here. This makes a HUGE difference in the case of Marc’s version of Starman where the audience loudly sang along on the choruses and the Let’s Dance finale which believe me, judging from the TV soundtrack mix both brought the house down.

    Anyway, hope some of you out there enjoy this show and thanks to Big O for enabling many of us to check this show out.

    By Bruce Skywater on Aug 3, 2016

  4. @Bruce Skywater:
    Thank you for your considered thoughts. I haven’t heard this yet but am particularly intrigued in part because of your posts. I love to hear artists explore and experiment with interpretations of other artists. Maybe it doesn’t always work for every ear–that’s kind of the point. Especially appropriate when covering an explorer like Bowie, as you note.

    I see Neil Hannon listed in the writeup though not in the Performers list by BigO. Here’s hoping his distinctive baritone features in the tunes he’s listed for.

    By kingpossum on Aug 3, 2016

  5. @kingpossum.
    Thank you. You’re very welcome. It’s how it should be here, discussing the music! Thanks to this show, I’m now looking at s t a r g a z e’s other work since I hadn’t heard of them before and they sound like an interesting ensemble well versed in all areas of music. Also a reminder I need to revisit some of John Cale’s work too.

    By Bruce Skywater on Aug 3, 2016

  6. another load of old guys who couldn’t sell out a venue like the RAH on their own, using the music of a far greater person, to big themselves up. Marc Almond hasn’t made any credible music in decades, John Cale living on past glories, tragic to see these musicians in their declining years, not having the decent to leave a tribute like this to the more musically qualified.

    By Liam NSW on Aug 4, 2016

  7. @Liam NSW What past glories is Cale living off?

    By gazatthebop on Aug 9, 2016

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