Live: Hammerstein Ballroom, New York City

David Bowie performed at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, USA, on 9 November 2006.

It was his final live performance, aside from a brief rendition of ‘Little Fat Man’ while introducing Ricky Gervais on stage the following year.

This show was the annual Black Ball charity concert, with all proceeds going to Keep A Child Alive, dedicated to providing life saving anti-retroviral treatment to children and families living with HIV/AIDS in Africa and other parts of the impoverished world.

Bowie performed just three songs, for all of which he was accompanied by pianist Mike Garson. ‘Wild Is The Wind’ was followed by ‘Fantastic Voyage’, and finally a duet with Alicia Keys on ‘Changes’. The first song featured just piano and vocals, while the others were with a full band.

The last show that he ever did was in 2006, just with me and him and Alicia Keys. We did ‘Changes’. She asked me to play piano on it even though she’s good on piano – she said, ‘You play it and I’ll just sing with David.’ ‘Changes’ was the song I auditioned with for Mick Ronson and David in ’72, so it was my opening thing and the last thing I did with him and the last thing he ever did live.
Mike Garson
David Bowie: Ultimate Record Collection (Uncut)

He was an extremely interesting individual. He had a real viewpoint, and he knew exactly what he wanted, and he knew exactly how to get it. Every musician he ever hired was great, and many of them went off onto their own successful careers. David just had this intuitive ‘third eye’ kind of thing, this ability, which was absolutely astounding to me. I recognised it way back in 1972 when we first started and I recognised it was still going on when I played with him at what turned out to be the last show he played. So that never ever changed.

It was a great experience. I remember it very very well. There was a lot of people in the audience. Tom Cruise was there, Brad Pitt was there. The Titanic guy was there. I think we did ‘Wild Is The Wind’ and then we did ‘Changes’. Actually Alicia was going to play the piano, but when she saw I was there she asked me to play, and the two of them sang it. It was very good. He was such a pro but for some reason (and sadly I think) David didn’t want it filmed. So there’s this really non-great recording of it out on YouTube, with terrible sound. I’ll tell you, I never heard anything sound as great as when we played that…

He was perhaps a little shaky, still, healthwise. It hadn’t been that long and I think he felt he was still a little bit bent out of shape.

Mike Garson
The Mouth magazine

Poster for The Black Ball featuring David Bowie, 9 November 2006

Last updated: 5 December 2023
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