And the British rock legend took the time out to speak exclusively to NME.COM...
DAVID BOWIE, PATTI SMITH and MOBY shared a stage in NEW YORK last night (February 26) for the 13th annual TIBET HOUSE BENEFIT GIG, NME.COM can reveal.
The line-up at Carnegie Hall also included Emmylou Harris, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, director of the event Phillip Glass, Natalie Merchant and surprise last-minute guests, the Dave Matthews Band.
The full ensemble took the stage for the show’s finale, a version of Smith’s ‘People Have The Power’.
Earlier in the evening, Bowie had performed ‘Heroes’ and ‘Silly Boy Blue’, a track he wrote in 1965 which he had not played since the ’60s, with a band consisting of Moby on guitar, Phillip Glass on piano and his long-time producer Tony Visconti on bass, with a string quartet led by acclaimed US violinist Martha Mook. They were also joined by chanting Tibetan monks for the end of ‘Silly Boy Blue’, which Bowie said was written about Tibet.
He was followed bySmith’s 18-year-old son Jackson making his live debut, performing a guitar solo, before Smith herself took the stage. She performed a cover of ‘Sea Of Love’ followed by her own ‘Pissing In The River’, introducing the songs by saying: “These two songs are about water. What’s happening in Tibet right now is that the Chinese are taking their nuclear waste and dumping it in the Himalayas. The snow melts and it flows back into the Chinese seas. It’s like pissing in the river. It comes back to you.”
She also performed a version of Allen Ginsberg poem ‘The Magic Song’.
Moby had earlier played an acoustic version of his single ‘Porcelain’ with Martha Mook, Emmylou Harris performed songs including ‘Michaelangelo’, ‘My Antonia, for which she was joined by Dave Matthews, and ‘Red Dirt Girl’.
Bowie spoke exclusively to NME.COM backstage before the gig, in the dressing room he was sharing with Moby.
Wearing a Union Jack shirt, matching glasses and now-trademark long hair, he described how he almost ran off to become a Tibetan monk as a teenager. “[I was] kicking around South East London trying to find myself when I stumbled across a Tibetan holy-man, who subsequently became a bit of a guru to me.” The guru advised him to start making music, however, despite Bowie’s insistence that “I look good in saffron!
“It was always about the clothes, as a teen it was always about the clothes.”
Bowie said he was looking forward to seeing “the young guys,” and added: “Moby playing guitar for me is such a buzz but do you know what, I am really looking forward to Patti Smith doing her Ginsberg poem. If anyone has
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the right to do Allen, it is Patti.”
Smith told NME.COM that her son Jackson was the only person who volunteered to follow in Bowie’s wake, playing guitar after his set. “When we were putting this together no-one wanted to follow Bowie, they were all scared, so my son volunteered, which is kinda cool.”
The concert was organised by Phillip Glass, who became involved with the Tibetan movement after visiting India in the early 1960’s and witnessing the mass exodus of people following the invasion of Tibet by China in 1959. He said: “People rally to save the rainforest or whale but here is a culture equally as endangered of extinction”. The Tibet House – [url=]www.tibethouse.org – aims to archive as much of the culture as possible until the country is free.