The “Chicago Tonight” Review
by on January 1, 1970 in Music

Friday night at a sold out Metro, Chris Connelly and Matt Walker (with help from friends like Shirley Manson of Garbage and more) became Sons of the Silent Age, covering David Bowie songs in an effort to raise money for Pablove Foundation and Rock For Kids…

Scheduled for the week of Bowie’s sixty-sixth birthday, timing for this benefit couldn’t have been better as Bowie himself managed to indirectly raise awareness for the event substantially following the shocking announcement of an unexpected new album (his first in ten years) and subsequent release of it’s first single earlier in the week.

Ministry alumnus Chris Connelly joined with local fixture Matt Walker (Filter, Smashing Pumpkins, The Cupcakes, Morrissey’s band) to form what amounted to much more than a cover band, ultimately encompassing the starpower of famous friends like Shirley Manson of Garbage as well an incredibly talented backing band featuring Robert Byrne (guitar), Richard Parenti (vocals, percussion, saxophone), Claire Massey (vocals and percussion), Carolyn Engelman (keyboards and vocals), Alan Berliant (bass) and Steve Gerlach (guitar).

Preliminary press materials for the benefit concert indicated that Connelly and Walker chose the material for Friday’s performance with “care and integrity.”  And really, those are the perfect descriptives because as a result of their reverence, Friday’s performance came off as a professional, musically ambitious, appropriately collaborative and wildly entertaining concert that saw the tight, well-rehearsed band more than ably tackle the vaunted Bowie canon.  Connelly fronted the group taking on Bowie’s unique voice throughout (no easy chore with so many diverse facets of rock’s ultimate chameleon to embody).

Berliant’s bass was up front early on an outstanding version of “D.J.”  which led directly into “Moonage Daydream.”  From there, Scottish singer Shirley Manson joined the ensemble and continued the band’s examination of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars album with the record’s very next track “Starman.”

Manson, getting ready for a February and March tour of Australia in support of Garbage’s fifth album Not Your Kind of People, went on to talk a bit about one of the evening’s beneficiaries, pediatric cancer charity Pablove Foundation.  Named after Pablo Thrailkill Castelaz who passed away in 2009 at the age of six following his fight with a rare form of childhood cancer, Pablove is a charity Manson has been involved with since 2008.  She went onto dedicate her singing of the 1971 Bowie classic “Life on Mars?” to Pablo’s mother and Pablove Foundation co-founder Jo Ann Thrailkill in memory of Pablo (one of his favorite songs).

The band continued on without Manson through a murderer’s row of Bowie hits like “Young Americans,” “Fashion,” “Ashes to Ashes,” and even deeper cuts like “Loving the Alien.”

“Diamond Dogs” opened the encore and Manson rejoined the band, explaining her history with Connelly and harmonizing nicely with him on the 1974 hit.

Calling the ability to be onstage with Sons of the Silent Age a “humbling” one, Manson and company finished the night by giving the band ample room to stretch out on “Heroes,” the song’s trademark feedback resplendent throughout.

On a night celebrating the music of David Bowie, and dedicated to raising funds for two remarkable charities, the triumphant closing number was apt.


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