“Everybody dizzy yet? There’s some sick bags under your chairs if you need it,” Beck told an intimate crowd of 280 people who were sitting on cushions on the floor as the musician conducted at 157-piece orchestra around his slowly rotating stage.
Beck, stood in the middle with a dazzling jacket and black fedora, span in one direction on his circular stage while the audience—who were there by invitation only—span slowly in the opposite direction. In what was arguably the most ambitious David Bowie cover of all time, Beck was pushing the boundaries of sound and vision with an effort like no other.
“It was an experiment and an opportunity to try something completely irrational,” Beck told Rolling Stone. “I attempted to conjure some scenario that could only exist in this kind of space for a one-time performance. It’s doing something you could never do on a tour. I was thinking a lot about Busby Berkeley films and multiples of musicians and dancers.”
The show, which took place in 2013, was given the green light by Bowie himself who allowed Beck to work his magic on the 1977 song. “It’s not easy,” Beck added. “It’s also incredibly impractical putting everybody in a circle. Every musician is facing each other. It’s an audio nightmare. But the idea of the music surrounding the audience is what was interesting, and how you could play with the sound spatially.
“So the song gets really disjointed, fragmented—it’s what you would hear in electronic music, but here it’s done live. I was curious to see if it could be pulled off.”
Pull it off he did… and in quite spectacular fashion. See footage of the evening, below.