David Bowie Sings “Changes” in 2006: The Last Time He Performed Live, and Maybe His Last Live Performance Ever

The man of a thou­sand hair­cuts, David Bowie has been the van­guard for cre­ative rein­ven­tion for longer than many of his fans have been alive. As soon as he’s made us think he’s exhaust­ed his imag­i­na­tion, he reap­pears with yet anoth­er album, anoth­er look, anoth­er the­atri­cal tour. Except that last bit isn’t like­ly to hap­pen again. We may have seen the end of Bowie the per­former some time ago, accord­ing to such sources as long­time Bowie pro­duc­er Tony Vis­con­ti (who worked with him on 2013’s The Next Day) and British con­cert pro­mot­er John Gid­dings.

“David is one of the best artists I’ve ever worked with,” said Gid­dings in Octo­ber, ”but every time I see him now, before I even speak to him, he goes, ‘I’m not tour­ing.’” Does this rule out the odd one-off appear­ance? Who knows. Noth­ing is for cer­tain with Bowie. But it may well be that the per­for­mance above, a duet of “Changes” with Ali­cia Keys from 2006, rep­re­sents the leg­endary shape shifter’s last gig. (And if so, we hope some bet­ter-qual­i­ty video of it sur­faces.)

Bowie appeared with Keys, Dami­an Mar­ley, and come­di­an Wan­da Sykes at New York’s Ham­mer­stein Ball­room for a fundrais­er and sang Sta­tion to Sta­tion’s “Wild is the Wind” and Lodger’s “Fan­tas­tic Voy­age” in addi­tion to “Changes,” all fit­ting notes to end on, if this is indeed the end of his live per­form­ing career. He had rarely tak­en the stage since his 2004 heart attack dur­ing the Real­i­ty tour, but, Rolling Stone points out, “that didn’t stop him from play­ing with Arcade Fire twice in 2005 and David Gilmour the fol­low­ing year.”

But that was ten years ago. Dur­ing the record­ing of The Next Day, Vis­con­ti report­ed that Bowie insist­ed there would be no live shows, and there weren’t. Now, Bowie’s sur­prised us again with a new album, Black­star, and a ten-minute video, above, that looks like all the para­noid dystopi­an visions in 90s albums like Out­side, Earth­ling, and Hea­then come ter­ri­fy­ing­ly true. I can imag­ine this most recent, per­haps final, entry in the Bowie canon would make for a hell of a stage show, but it looks like he will pass that torch to the younger artists who con­tin­ue to inspire him as he ages grace­ful­ly. Black­star will be released on Jan­u­ary 8th, Bowie’s 69th birth­day.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

50 Years of Chang­ing David Bowie Hair Styles in One Ani­mat­ed GIF

A 17-Year-Old David Bowie Defends “Long-Haired Men” in His First TV Inter­view (1964)

David Bowie and Cher Sing Duet of “Young Amer­i­cans” and Oth­er Songs on 1975 Vari­ety Show

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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