Shearwater vs David Bowie II: Inside Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy

Shearwater vs David Bowie II: Inside Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy

As impressive as a live-to-tape recital of Bowie’s Lodger was, it would be only the preamble to Shearwater’s greatest Bowie tribute. And the irony is that, relative to the modern-day benchmark of every bit of media being free to everyone, everywhere, you can’t hear it.

The “what” of it was a series of three concerts assembled by the New Sounds program on WNYC, New York’s public radio, intended to honour the city’s late, adopted son, David Bowie. Assisted by members of Xiu Xiu, Dirty Projectors, Deerhoof amongst others, as well as Bowie’s own longtime guitarist Carlos Alomar, Shearwater performed all three albums of Bowie’s legendary Berlin trilogy – Low, “Heroes”, and Lodger – across three nights at New York’s Brookfield Place. As Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg wrote in the show’s programme:

[T]hese albums are the pinnacle of [Bowie’s] musical and artistic output…the Berlin Trilogy has everything: brooding, cinematic instrumentals, rave-ups that end almost before they begin, gorgeous ballads that threaten to collapse on themselves, and Bowie’s most famous and expansive song.

Jonathan Meiburg, David Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy, New Sounds Live 2018 from Brookfield Place

And while I wasn’t at the performances – though believe me I thought about getting on a plane – I’ve heard them and they’re magnificent. Unfortunately, the only way to hear them yourself is to purchase the digital downloads at the band’s Bandcamp page.

Due to copyright restrictions, we can’t stream samples of the shows online (or allow downloads of individual tracks) – so we have them for sale as 3 individual albums, or as a complete 31-song playlist.

This is the only way to download them; and they sound really, really good.  WNYC’s team of engineers recorded the performances beautifully, and Dan Duszynski (from Loma) and I spent nearly 100 hours mixing and mastering the performances, bringing out as many of the details as we could; and they’re 24-bit, high-quality .wav files.

Jonathan Meiburg, “Berlin Trilogy / New Album / Playlists”

The three albums are available to purchase either individually or as a collection – obviously I recommend the set – but if you need a little convincing to pony up, consider Pitchfork’s glowing review of the three nights:

A Surprising Tribute to David Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy, Played in a Manhattan Mall @ Pitchfork

Meiburg and New Sounds‘ John Schaefer talked with WNYC about the project after the first night of the shows:

Bowie’s “Berlin Trilogy” @ WNYC

And Forbes had an interview with Meiburg about the experience of preparing for and performing the legendary works this past January, when the concerts were re-broadcast on WNYC:

Q&A: Shearwater Performs David Bowie’s ‘Berlin Trilogy’ This Week On WNYC @ Forbes

And while they couldn’t share videos of their performances, the band made videos discussing the process of learning and arranging some of the songs for the concerts:

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