When it comes to being a tribute band, there aren’t a whole lot of prerequisites. You avoid playing any original material, you confine your repertoire to a single legend, and that’s pretty much it.
Todd Rundgren and Adrian Belew’s “Celebrating David Bowie Tour” meets both of those criteria, yet has little else in common with the never-ending stream of Beatles, Zeppelin and Elvis impersonators who are tapping into legacies best left undisturbed.
For one thing, Belew has his credentials in order: Bowie recruited him as his touring guitarist in the late ’70s, and featured him on Lodger, the unjustly overlooked final installment in the artist’s “Berlin Trilogy.” A decade later, he worked with Bowie again, this time as music director and guitarist for the “Sound + Vision Tour.”
Rundgren, meanwhile, remains the closest America has come to producing its own glam-rock icon, thanks to a string of Top 40 hits that include “Hello, It’s Me,” “I Saw the Light” and “Can We Still Be Friends.”
The current tour lineup also includes Fishbone’s Angelo Moore, Spacehog’s Royston Langdon, and L.A. producer/guitarist Angelo “Scrote” Bundini. Together, they enthusiastically navigate their way through the first 15 years of Bowie’s career — “Space Oddity” “The Man Who Sold the World,” “Life on Mars,” “Changes,” “Five Years,” “Ziggy Stardust,” “Rebel, Rebel,” “Young Americans,” “Ashes to Ashes,” “Heroes,” “Let’s Dance” — all the stuff you listened to before you stopped listening.
And, much to their credit, they manage to stay faithful to the originals without ever appearing to go through the motions, much as Bowie himself would be doing if he were still here with us. And you can’t ask for much more than that.