On his 70th birthday and two days before the first anniversary of his death, it still doesn't feel as though we're ready to let go of David Bowie.
But tonight is not about grieving. It's about celebrating a man whose genius brought joy to millions, in Brixton where he was born.
A three-hour set hosted by his friend and collaborator Gary Oldman delivers on the hits with a cast of Bowie's former bandmates, a terrific gospel choir and an eclectic bunch of singers.
You'd be hard-put to gather a lineup that could really be a good-enough tribute to his talent or experimental side, so tonight's event draws on the appeal of bringing a group together who knew the man himself.
Guitarist Earl Slick livens up the night with bassist Gail Ann Dorsey, who played in Bowie's band from 1995 until his death, singing “Young Americans” with the London Community Gospel Choir.
Gaby Moreno delivers an exquisite rendition of “Five Years”; Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon performs a glorious version of “Let's Dance” that has people jumping up and down in the aisles. A security guard ventures down and asks if they can sit, only to throw a few shapes of his own. It's testament to the infectious joy Bowie's music brings.
David Bowie: Life in pictures
David Bowie: Life in pictures
David Bowie in 1960s
Davy Jones; life before David Bowie
David Bowie in 1964
David Bowie 'In Mime' at the Middle Earth Club, London, 1968
David Bowie in 1969
David Bowie performing his final concert as Ziggy Stardust at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, 1973
David Bowie in 1973
David Bowie, with his wife Angela (Angie) and his son Zowie, after receiving an award for his latest record "Ziggy stardust" in Amsterdam, 1974
David Bowie in the 1970s
David Bowie's son, Duncan Jones, confirmed his death on Twitter
David Bowie in the 1980s
David Bowie gives a press conference presenting the Japanese movie 'Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence' directed by Nagisa Oshima, during the 36th International Film Festival in Cannes, 1983
David Bowie performs on stage during a concert in La Courneuve, 1987
David Bowie during his concert in West Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany, 1987
David Bowie shakes hands with Princess Diana, 1993
David Bowie autographs copies of his newest album 'Outside' at the grand opening of a Herald Square music store 26 September 1995 in New York
David Bowie performs at the Panathinaikos stadium in Athens during a rock festival, 1996
David Bowie and his wife, supermodel Iman smile as they pose for photos after Bowie received a star on the world famous Walk of Fame 12 February in Hollywood, 1997
David Bowie getting ready to perform 'Earthling' at the Phoenix Music Festival in 1997
David Bowie on stage performing during the Tibet House Benefit Concert in New York City, 2001
David Bowie Meltdown concert at the Royal Festival Hall, London, June 2002
David Bowie performing during his concert at the Stravinski hall stage of the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland, 2002
David Bowie in 'Last Call with Carson Daly' TV programme taping in New York, 2003
David Bowie walks with his with wife Iman and daughter Alexandria (2) in New York, 2003
David Bowie performs on stage on the third and final day of 'The Nokia Isle of Wight Festival 2004' at Seaclose Park, in Newport, UK
David Bowie poses with a pig, 2004
David Bowie and Kate Moss at the 2005 CFDA Awards dinner party at the New York Public Library in New York City, 2005
David Bowie and model Iman arrive to the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala, Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, 2008
David Bowie anf Tilda Swinton at the MoMA's 6th Annual Film Benefit in New York, 2013
Flowers are left below a mural of David Bowie on the wall of a Morley's store in Brixton on 11 January 2016
Keane singer and now-solo artist Tom Chaplin is outdone by the audience who begin singing “Life On Mars?” during the song's Spanish guitar intro (a wonderful turn from Adrian Belew), while La Roux's sweet rendition of “Golden Years” is unfortunately drowned out by the band.
Fishbone's Angelo Moore appears in clown-mask makeup and a black cape complete with a piano key motif. His attempt at capturing Bowie's flamboyance feels rather contrived — that said, his vocal performance on “Ashes to Ashes” is excellent.
Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott, one of the standout tributes of the night thanks to his raucous rock'n'roll approach, pauses and waits for the drummer to return to the stage ahead of “All the Young Dudes”.
“We need the drummer,” he tells the audience with a grin. “That's the kind of s**t you learn after 36 years in this business.”
There are glitches, but no one is going to grumble on a night like this. The sentiment and good intentions are all there and in its best moments it feels like.... Not so much pushing a boat out into the ocean, as sending a rocket into space.
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- David Bowie
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- Def Leppard
- Earl Slick
- Gail Ann Dorsey
- Gary Oldman