North Carolina Symphony pays tribute to David Bowie

Bowie fans arrived early to enjoy food and libations before the performance.

Bowie fans arrived early to enjoy food and libations before the performance.


By Dathan Kazsuk

On Saturday, June 25 we were excited to go to Cary's Koka Booth Amphitheatre to hear the North Carolina Symphony pay tribute to David Bowie as part of its 2016 Summerfest schedule.

We arrived around 6 p.m. to claim a space close to the stage. A blanket. A picnic basket. Two lawn chairs. Appetizers and two bottles of wine and we were ready to settle in for the evening. The wine for the afternoon was courtesy of Williamsburg Winery out of Williamsburg, Virginia. We started with the 2014 Governor's White Riesling and ended the evening with the 2913 Barrel-Aged Claret.

One of the things I noticed prior to the show, was on the Symphony's website, it mentioned that "Randy Jackson" was the vocalist? Randy Jackson? You can't be serious, DAWG! And they weren't. I mean, this guys name was probably Randy Jackson, but not the Randy Jackson we were use to seeing on American Idol. This Randy Jackson looked like he can't drive 55 ... or maybe he wound up in Cary when the levee broke! See what I did there?

Mr. Jackson came out with a wavy, long, blonde head of hair, hence the Hagar and Plant references. Either way, this didn't look like a guy ready to croon away hits by one of the most iconic musicians that ever lived. But this guy was going to give it a shot. And while he wasn't anywhere near the spitting image of Mr. Bowie, he did suffice.

Jackson introduced himself and along with the North Carolina Symphony, a bassist and guitarist proceeded with the first Bowie classic, "Rebel Rebel," from the 1974 album Diamond Dogs.

Looking around the crowd, we saw many tapping their feet almost immediately, while sitting in rows of assorted colored lawn chairs. Others, well, they looked like they didn't know what was being performed on the stage and how they wound up here on this evening.

Vocalist Randy Jackson introduced the musicians before getting to the music. Jackson, thanks to looking Bowie facts up on the Internet, was pretty informative with trivia between most songs. That made it easy for us to predict almost every song before the first note was played. Some of our favorite Bowie songs were performed that night such as "Ziggy Stardust," "Under Pressure," "Heroes," "Space Oddity" and "Fashion."

It wasn't until the sun set behind the trees that people began to get out of their chairs, put on their red shoes and dance the blues to classics like "Golden Years", "Let's Dance" and "Fame." At one point, members of the audience started to dance up on the steps leading up to the stage, and were quickly asked to step down.

Come on Koka Booth ... let them have some fun!

Here was the complete set list from that evening:

  • Rebel Rebel

  • Ziggy Stardust

  • Changes

  • Blue Jean

  • Suffragette City

  • Under Pressure

  • China Girl

  • Starman

  • Heroes

  • Modern Love

  • Fashion

  • All the Young Dudes

  • Space Oddity

  • Young Americans

  • Ashes to Ashes

  • Golden Years

  • Let's Dance

  • Fame

  • Life on Mars