CabaretMusicNew York

Me & Mr. Jones: My Intimate Relationship with David Bowie – Pangea, New York City

Creator: Raquel Cion

Musical Direction: Karl Saint Lucy

Reviewer: Maggie McMuffin

What does it mean to be a fan? To truly love an artist you have never met but who you feel a deep connection to? What does that look like when the artist in question is the deified David Bowie?

To love Bowie is normal for weirdos of a certain generation but it’s easy to forget that at the start of his career he was loved by the misfits and the losers alone. That he and his fans were subject to ridicule, scorn, and even violence.

Raquel Cion’s show tackles her own history with Bowie’s work, starting from first hearing a song at 12 years old, to coming to terms with a cancer diagnosis a few months after his passing in 2016. Along the way, she sings his songs (not just the obvious hits) and a four piece band accompanies her. While it sometimes felt that her voice was drowned out by the instruments in the small back room of Pangea, her energy never was. It is worth nothing that while the band is mostly there to play (which they do incredibly well and put their own spin on decades worth of Bowie’s work), they also occasionally say lines and can be spotted reacting to Cion’s stories. This is not merely an interchangeable backing band but fellow cast members who have formed a strong ensemble.

Cion touches on the AIDS crisis and dating an addict, but doesn’t go into the strong detail she does with other life events. Instead, she largely lets the songs speak for her, hiding behind their spectacle, their familiar embrace, to let the audience have a few minutes of feeling what she felt rather than getting all the gooey intellectual details. It wasn’t always spot-on, but it was never near boring, and it all led to the poignant halfway mark of the show where Cion swapped her glam gowns for more somber attired and sang some of Bowie’s final songs. In those moments she is an apostle, but also her most vulnerable. While she has said that she wants ‘to be more than a crazed fan’ (and boy has she met a few) and also ‘has a bit of a Bowie problem,’ it is the arc where she mourns Bowie openly that makes her the most human. This easily springboards into her final explanation of ‘limbic resonance’ (it is very lovely to say and more lovely to hear her say) and how the way she feels for his music is love. It was impossible not to be taken back to the night after the news broke and people of all ages flooded bars and karaoke joints to sing out memoriams for the alien. This only continued when Cion sang three songs without narrative connection. It would have been nice if the freedom she exhibited during this time had been present in each previous song but it was a perfect finale as well. A fitting tribute to a man who she has never met and yet was there in her brightest moments and darkest days.

Runs until 14 March 2020 | Photo Credit: Steven Menendez

The Reviews Hub Score

Nostalgic & Bittersweet Bowie

The Reviews Hub - America

The American team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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