Arcade Fire – Live EP (with David Bowie)

Live EP (with David Bowie) (2005)

C+

1. Life On Mars? 2. Wake Up 3. Five Years

 

As a follow up to his highly memorable cameo in Zoolander, David Bowie agreed to perform at something called “Fashion Rocks,” which Wikipedia describes as “an annual international charity fundraiser event, which features fashions by the world’s top designers being presented to live performances by popular music acts.” Incidentally, that definitely sounds like something Ben Stiller rejected from an early draft of Zoolander before some executive at Conde Nast decided it would be a great idea to actually put on. So, were there, like, models on the catwalk trying to strut and act cool while Mr. Boooooowee was mauling “Life On Mars?” If so, how did they not fall over?

Anyway, I remember hearing about Arcade Fire not long after this 3-song EP was recorded and released solely because Bowie was spending all his time furiously pimping them out to everyone in the world as his new favorite band. That’s interesting, cause I don’t hear much overt Bowie influence in Arcade Fire’s early stuff (though let’s be real – if you are a remotely “artsy” rock band, odds are you are pretty indebted to Bowie on some level). Nonetheless, this pimpage extended so far that the erstwhile Davy Jones invited Win and crew to serve as his backing band at this whole “Fashion Rocks” business. It was a win-win for both parties; Arcade Fire got a shotload of extra visibility, and it gave Bowie an excuse to sing “Wake Up” somewhere outside of his shower for once. The only losers? The audience, and everyone who bought this EP and had to listen to it.

Ha! OK, it’s not a trainwreck or anything, but let’s just say that Bowie and Arcade Fire did not meld seamlessly while performing at “Fashion Rocks.” The EP starts out with a stripped down rendition of “Life On Mars?” featuring just piano and voice, which, well… let’s just say that if Bowie rendered this performance on American Idol, Randy Jackson would call it “pitchy.” That’s not how the chorus goes, David! Though let’s not put it all on Bowie (this was recorded not too long after his heart attack, after all) – is it just me or is whoever is playing the piano (Richard Reed Parry, maybe? Shit, I have no idea who does what in this band) playing the wrong chords during the chorus? That could have been what threw him off. Next, they do “Wake Up” with Bowie singing, which sounds thin and disorganized and Bowie again has trouble hitting the notes. They close it out with “Five Years,” which sounds okay I guess, but it might actually be the worst song on Ziggy Stardust and listening to it now, I am distracted by the realization that Christopher Nolan could very well have come up with the idea for Interstellar as a result of listening to it. Man, Christopher Nolan should make a Ziggy Stardust movie. That would be nuts.



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