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Review: The Music of David Bowie with the CBSO at Birmingham Symphony Hall

Sometimes when a musician has been a leading figure in popular culture it is easy to over-look the range of their output, how many stylistic bases they covered, the ease with which they jumped from genre to genre, until it is shown in a different light – and that was the case with this concert.

Adding classical flourishes to pop music is nothing new, sometimes it works, and sometimes it is nothing short of a gimmick, a shot-gun wedding of styles that shouldn’t work together, but the blend of Bowie’s lyrical writing style, loud guitars, rock drums and bass – and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra – worked.

Tony Vincent

Tony Vincent

With the vocals of the American singer Tony Vincent and conductor Brent Havens, the large ensemble played some of the most beloved songs from the rock and pop music cannon, ranging from the guitar heavy opening Rebel Rebel, to softer pieces which gave the expansive sound of the CBSO space and time to breathe.

Numbers such as Heroes, Changes, or the disco like beats of Fashion, Fame and Let’s Dance, got the audience to their feet, but it was the slower songs, such as Space Oddity, Under Pressure or Life on Mars that sounded best receiving this type of sonic overhaul.

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