David Bowie, the legend who knew how to die

A tribute concert to the singer at Barcelona venue Razzmatazz also served as a fundraising event for children with cancer

Seward.Massimiliano Minocri

The singer would have turned 70 last Sunday. No one at the concert was that old, though. Not even 10 years younger. In our country, only a rare kind of hero shows up at a rock gig with almost six decades weighing on their shoulders. However, there were some fans in their fifties, either out-of-season tourists or former party animals looking to revive a past that isn’t that far away.

The others, the vast majority, were aged between their late thirties and early forties, having been children or even babies when Bowie was already a star. People under 30 were thin on the ground, and the under-twenties were nowhere to be seen. Yes, it has been a year since David Bowie’s death, but he really only passed away for those who feel the pain, be it slight or acute, of getting old. Young people have other things on their minds. As it should be.

Tuesday. The only good thing about it is that Monday is already over. Last year’s tribute concert to Bowie was on a Saturday and the emotional response that came from dismay over such an unexpected and recent passing filled Razzmatazz. It didn’t happen this time, although the attendance was admirable for a Tuesday. Nearly as admirable as the ability to get together so many musicians, always ready to perform if there’s someone listening. And even more so if there is a charitable cause that isn’t just a rich person’s attempt to offset taxes. In this case, to support families whose children are suffering from cancer.

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A problem. Such was the goodwill that the line-up was longer than a year spent without Bowie. More than 23 groups and solo artists challenged the efficiency of the stage crew at Razzmatazz, who had to change equipment at the speed of Major Tom during a concert that lasted more than four hours.

On a soulless Tuesday night, several generations came together once again in the realization that they are becoming orphans. And things can only get worse. Rock is an old man itself and its stars have been dying their hair for years. Rock is an old man despite furious performances like Seward’s, almost the only band of the evening that chose a recent song. It was Sue, from Bowie’s last album, to which they applied a free shock in keeping with the seismographic pulse of the band. Seward’s performance turned out to be one of the most memorable moments of a night that was memorable itself, a position they shared with Minova, who meticulously reinterpreted Let’s Dance, escaping from the 1970s anthology that dominated the night’s repertoire.

But if we are talking about striking moments, we must mention the spokesperson from AFANOC, a childhood cancer support organization for families, which benefited from the money raised at the Razzmatazz gig. As at every charity concert, we all know that supportive speeches mean a sudden change of register that disconnects the audience, who responds with a routine smile, while staring into space.

This time, whether it was fear of the disease itself, or that we can’t think of anything more unfair than children suffering from cancer, or the fact that this same illness took Bowie – who showed us how the fight against cancer can be lost with dignity – the public listened intently to the speech, as if only their silence could heal. Bowie would have loved that.

English version by Mar Vila, Marina Riera, Gemma Sagrera and Ester Torras.

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From November onward, the Catalan edition of EL PAÍS, Elpais.cat, will include a selection of news stories in English.

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