There were rumours of Kate Moss taking to the stage as well as various pop artists to honour the Starman at tonight’s Brits, but in the end all that was needed were a couple of his good friends, his old touring band and one of his biggest fans (who also happens to be an artist Bowie himself tipped for great things).
Annie Lennox kicked off the tribute with an emotional speech. She described Bowie as “a quintessential visionary” and “the ultimate iconoclast,” and spoke of his “cutting-edge” artistic genius as “deeply embedded in the heart of British culture.”
“Even if they didn’t know him personally, many people must feel as if things will never be quite the same again,” said Lennox as she fought back tears.
“He drew us away from our suburban lives, turning everything on its head in gloriously subversive technicolour,” she continued. “There is nothing and no one else like him.”
Actor Gary Oldman then took to the stage to accept the Brits Icon Award on his close friend Bowie’s behalf.
“We are all coming to terms with the magnitude of David’s passing,” said Oldman. “The world lost a man, an artist of transcendent talent.”
He described Bowie as “the living embodiment of that singular word ‘icon'” and revealed that he faced his illness “with enormous courage, dignity, grace and customary humour.”
Oldman ended his speech by calling Bowie “the sweetest soul ever” and said, “We love you and we thank you.”
The musical part of the tribute began with Bowie’s old touring band (who last performed together during the 2003-2004 A Reality Tour) playing a medley of Bowie’s hits, including “Let’s Dance” and “Under Pressure,” against a backdrop of images of the star.
New Zealand singer Lorde then joined the band on stage to perform “Life on Mars.”
When Bowie died in January, Lorde posted a tribute online, writing, “He was a piece of bright pleated silk we could stretch out or fold up small inside ourselves when we needed to.”
Lorde first met Bowie at the age of 16, at his request, at a 2013 benefit honouring Tilda Swinton, which she described as “a beautiful moment.”
Of meeting her hero, Lorde said, “That night something changed in me — I felt a calmness grow, a sureness. I think in those brief moments, he heralded me into my next new life, an old rock and roll alien angel in a perfect grey suit.”
According to The Mirror, the estate of David Bowie worked in tandem with Brit bosses to ensure the star was honoured in the most fitting way.
“I just want people to go away and say it was simple, it was respectful and there was an understated class about it,” said Brits Chairman Max Lousada ahead of the show.