But there was nothing truly unexpected in Bowie's part of the evening. What was unexpected was the opener.
I'm waiting around in a mostly-empty Fleet Center (lots of people not bothering to arrive before the main act) when the lights dim and these people in white robes start walking across the stage to risers. White robes with different brightly-colored hems. It immediately looks to me like a new age variation on a gospel choir.
And they keep coming. 25 of them. 9 in a chorus, and a whole symphonic variety of instruments, ranging from flute to harp to trumpet to ... theramin?
And then they start singing, and from the very beginning the chorus was swinging heads and arms like they were in an aerobics class, and the lead singer was just as animated, and the intrumentalists all joined in the bouncing around whenever the needs of actually playing the music allowed.
And the music. Was bright major-chord happy good vibes symphonic 70s Beach Boys Brady Bunch positive unironic rainbow-filled magic. Did I mention happy? It was insane. You couldn't--I couldn't help bobbing my head to the beat and gradually a manic happy grin took over my face.
This is the Polyphonic Spree, an ensemble that has about doubled in size since it began, a happy little cult of incredibly fun music-making.
Their lyrics are "reach for the sun" and bright and light and majesty and all that stuff, and it was earnest and boppy and an incredibly good time. They're clearly enjoying themselves up there, and it's transmitted amazingly well to the audience. Bowie agreed, commenting after his set started that he couldn't help smiling when he watched them.
Their web page is really annoying in that it requires flash and a lot of the material only works in IE, but just wait for the intro movie to load up. They sound exactly like that graphic looks. No, exactly.
If you want to sample their music, I recommend the "Polyphonic Player" from their incredibly non-intuitive toolbar, not the David Bowie cover in the pop-up window. [Snagged from skreeky's journal, here's an article about them if you want to read some press without navigating their site.]
The theramin player was my favorite to watch. He had longish (think Davy Jones) hair that flopped into and out of his eyes, and when he was singing or playing the tambourine, he jumped up and down so that his feet were above his knees and you could see the denim pants under his robe. Then he'd play the theramin, with his right hand quivering in place while his left hand made grand spell-casting gestures and punctuated the pop symphony with science fiction tones. I want to have his job. I want to be a sorcerer in a good vibes symphonic music group. Yes I do.