Incredibly, it's already a whole week since David Bowie performed three songs at the Black Ball benefit at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York.
As promised, here are a few more reviews sent in by attendant BowieNetters, all illustrated with pictures we've not yet posted here.
BowieNetters take over the red carpet at The Black Ball. From L to R: Luis' son Chris, Shakeh, Luis,
Cavebat, MandN, Staff behind her, loisroma, RobPongi, and two unidentified, but quite lovely ladies.
Black Satin Bowie by Cavebat
"He?s only doing one song, and it?s with Louis XIV." (Rumor, not true)
"He?s doing three songs, all duets with Alicia Keys." (Rumor, not true)
"He has a pompadour." (Not rumor, true)
"Rob Pongi is coming from Japan." (Rumor, true)
Lots of rumors were dished up along with the martinis, goat cheese, and mini burgers at the Pre-Black-Ball Bnet Gathering. Turns out that Bnetters clean up quite well, and everyone looked stunning. Staff and the Ultra-Starlettes officiated, styling in their black-tie finery. And the atmosphere was electric. So who could blame us for obsessing over what HE would sing. What HE would wear. What color HIS HAIR would be.
What we didn?t worry about was HIS VOICE, and we didn?t? need to - it was silky, warm, and smooth.
Bowie slipped into his time capsule one more time and came out slim, trim, and gorgeous. He sauntered onto the stage of the Hammerstein Ballroom, his new 30-waist wrapped in a black satin tuxedo, his hair golden and high. He smiled for the $50,000 per table crowd of Beautiful Peeps, and melted into Mike Garson?s opening notes of Wild is the Wind.
Who knew that even The Beautiful People scream for Bowie? They do! They even rush the dance floor, backless sequinned dresses shimmering in the candlelight.
Did they know that several balconies above them we Bnetters are also screaming? This time, for Fantastic Voyage? A flawless - as always from Bowie - choice for the event. And delivered flawlessly too.
Bowie gave everyone Changes for his final song, making it two for us, one for them. That seems fair. Burgers and champagne in plastic cups for us ? china plates and crystal flutes for them.
But one Bowie, indivisible - indescribable - for all.
"I asked for an autograph..." Actually he didn't. But he had just
signed a couple. David Bowie arrives at the Hammerstein Ballroom.
Review by mandn
What a spectacular evening. The UltraStar/Bowienet hospitality was wonderful and a BIG Thank You to Staff and co. for putting that together for us. It was nice to put faces to some of the behind-the-scenes screen names at US and meet some of the other BNetters.
The Hammerstein is a glorious old building that was the perfect setting for the glamour and glitz in attendance. From Iman to Russell Simmons and his stunning (ex)wife Kimora Lee and the contributors to the Keep a Child Alive charity.
Wanda Sykes was the emcee for the evening and she was in full form last night. Respectful of the evening's theme but still irreverent enough to poke fun at our President. There were many moving speeches and videos to drive home the importance of the work that KaCA is doing. One of the most touching was Alicia's video interviews with some of the teenagers that are now either left with no family or are acting as the heads of their households due to the ravages of AIDS throughout Africa. It was very touching and more than once the crowd teared up.
The musical performances were stunning. Surprise after surprise as first Louis XIV performed two songs then a true joy to me to see the one and only Angelique Kidjo. What a powerhouse that woman is! She performed three songs as well, including a get on your feet rendition of Africa with Alicia Keys.
Then came Damien Marley. His laid back reggae had a few of the black-tie crowd swaying to the rhythms and beats. Again Alicia sang backing and some harmonies. This woman doesn?t stop. She then went on to perform three more songs slyly sneaking in some of David?s grooves from Let?s Dance which of course left us BNetters salivating for the Man Himself. She also sang a roof raising version of Janis Joplin's ?Piece of My Heart?.
With a crescendo that seemed to go on forever Alicia introduced David to thunderous house applause. In a testament to the RockGod status/respect He still commands, the entire crowd was on their feet and surging toward the stage. Opening with ?Wild is the Wind? in a simple and elegantly stripped down version He was mesmerising. No other words can describe it. His voice was perfect, even if the house sound wasn?t. Mike?s gentle and masterful piano work was the perfect accompaniment to such a poignant moment.
?Fantastic Voyage? was the surprise of the evening. Alicia?s band backing this song never missed a beat. I almost felt transported back to the ?70s and what it must have been like hearing it then.
(Blammo Note: You'd need more than a time machine for that mandn, he didn't perform that song live in the 70s) David?s suit was vaguely reminiscent of the Thin White Duke era and no one wears a tux better in my opinion.
On to ?Changes? with Alicia Keys, so appropriate for the theme of the evening. Their voices meld beautifully together and I for one, would be pleased to hear them do a proper duet. I could quote the lyrics here, but there is no need to. Change was the underlying theme of the evening and in His usual prescient style David?s writing and music says it all.
In conclusion, I came away with a few thoughts, first what a big thank I owe to BowieNet and David Himself for acquiring the tickets for us. Second, what a truly amazing and selfless person Alicia Keys is. Tirelessly dedicated to making sure that awareness is constantly directed towards those suffering the most. And lastly, a gnawing feeling that something MUST be done and that I/we are not doing enough.
Review by youtoo
The Black Ball, a benefit for the Keep a Child Alive organization, was presented by Conde' Nast Media Group and hosted by Alicia Keys and Iman. Keep a Child Alive essentially has undertaken the formidable challenge of arresting the threat of AIDS to mankind. More specific is their immediate desire to provide anti-retroviral treatment, life saving drugs, to the millions suffering in Africa.
The front half of the evening featured speakers and honorees that shared almost incomprehensible statistics concerning the damage done by AIDS in Africa coupled with inspirational stories regarding their relentless dedication to the crisis. Several short films were interspersed including one showing Alicia Keys passionately singing a prayer to a group of African orphans. What she has accomplished in her 25 years of life is truly remarkable.
Louis XIV kicked off the musical portion of the show. A four-piece rock band that for some reason reminded me of the early Kinks. Cool. Angelique Kidjo and Damian Marley followed with the help of Alicia and her potent, funky, 13-member band. Both gave energetic, enjoyable performances.
Alicia looked stunning as she rhythmically strode around the stage showcasing her enormous talents during her portion of the show. This was my first time seeing Alicia play live and I was very impressed. No wonder she has won nine Grammy Awards! My ears perked up, as the band started playing what I thought was "Let's Dance". For a moment I wasn't sure until it morphed into what I was positive was "Let's Dance". This is it. I believed Bowie would walk out any second now to accompany her. It was just a tease. The actual way it happened went something like this.
The crescendo generated by the band thundered on as I noticed a roadie sneak onto the stage and open the front lid of the massive grand piano downstage right. With no fanfare Mike Garson walked out and took his seat. He placed his sheet music and joined in the crescendo, first with his left hand, then his right. Roughly two hours into the show the magical moment I had been waiting for was happening.
As Alicia began her introduction, the people seated at the round candle lit tables that occupied the majority of the floor began to get out of their seats and fill the empty space up front. In what was now a silent ballroom filled with anticipation, Alicia continued her introduction of rock legend David Bowie. Slowly, but with 'strength in his stride' Bowie walked to the center of the stage as the crowd erupted with the nights loudest ovation. His hands were folded in front as he acknowledged Mr. Garson then turned to face the audience. Elegantly dressed in a black suit, white shirt and black tie, he took his position in front of the microphone and ever so exquisitely began to sing, "Love me, love me, love me, love me, say you do". Tears began to fill my eyes as his unique phrasing continued, "Let me fly away with you". The ballroom was filled with "That Soaring Voice" during the chorus, "You touch me". Bowie live, woo hoo.
Now backed by the entire band, Bowie launched into "Fantastic Voyage". "They wipe out an entire race and I've got to write it down"." And it won't be forgotten but I'm still getting educated but I've got to write it down". Poignant lyrics delivered convincingly like no other.
"Changes" closed the show. The movement of the crowd up front was infectious. Everyone in the ballroom was on their feet as David sang the first verse, Alicia the second. Everyone sang the choruses. "But I can't trace time" and then he was gone. Fifteen minutes my eyes were transfixed on the European Man and I was grateful.
Thank you to the staff at davidbowie.com and to whoever donated the tickets for allowing me to experience something I would not have been able to attend on my own. I leave with hope in my heart.
Review by mosco
Well! Where to begin ...
Seeing my name on the winners list sparked a frenzy of preparations. Fortunately, I have a job and other commitments, so I wasn't able to go too overboard, but by Wednesday I was manicured, tailored, and accessorized. But of course things couldn't go entirely smoothly. A dubious midtown salad led to 24+ hours of food poisoning and Thursday night it was all I could do to pull myself together. But thanks to a pre-pre party with my friend/stylist, Nelson and his coworker/makeup artist, Kelly, at least I looked good, even if I felt like shit. And nothing was going to diminish my excitement.
After a wonderfully alarming moment when I couldn't find the B-netters at the designated venue (and was directed by venue staff to the Reader's Digest party) I found everyone in a private room upstairs and obtained my ticket. UltraStar's Staff had organized a lovely little party, and my biggest surprise of the evening was the B-netters and fans I met there. Honestly, I didn't know what to picture and I met such nice, cool, fun people! Hope to see you around, B-netters!
Eventually we made our way to the Hammerstein, where we paused for a moment for a couple of pix on the red carpet (Astroturf?), and found our seats inside. From the balcony we could see the glitteratti at tables down below and I made a half-hearted attempt at star-sighting (Bono?).
The show began with various speakers on the subject of the benefit, including Iman, who spoke in a very emotional way and looked shockingly beautiful, even among a sea of beautiful people.
The music kicked off with Louis XIV. The highlights of the non-Bowie portion, in my humble opinion, were the two Alicia Keys duets with Damian Marley, who had amazing presence and energy, and her cover of Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart." And, hey, did we detect a Bowie riff ("Let's Dance") incorporated into her first number? (foreshadowing?)
Keys' last song transitioned into an introduction for you-know-who, and suddenly, there he was, looking very suave and elegant in black tie and singing "Wild Is the Wind" with piano accompaniment. We were treated to three gems, the other two being "Fantastic Voyage" and "Changes," in which Alicia Keys joined in. The VIPs abandoned their seats and by the end had surrounded the stage like a bunch of suburban punks, taking snaps with their phones. (Understandable, unlike the guy in front of me text messaging throughout the set ... but that's a rant for another day.)
On my way out, an usher told me I needed to go to the other side to pick up my goodie bag, which I took as a suggestion, yet wasn't able to swing it. So I went outside, where late night construction next door was creating an enormous and glamorous cascade of golden welding sparks (ah, "the city that never sleeps"), stumbled across the road, and caught a cab home.
Thanx all of you that did provide a review...if you sent one in but you've not seen it here, please drop me a line.