Stars turn up at Bowie tribute concert – Timberlake sued by Cirque du Soleil over hit song

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Musician Sean Lennon performs at The Music of David Bowie tribute concert at Carnegie Hall on March 31, in New York.
Musician Sean Lennon performs at The Music of David Bowie tribute concert at Carnegie Hall on March 31, in New York.

NEW YORK, April 1, (Agencies): A sold-out Carnegie Hall audience joined a children’s chorus in a singalong to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” Thursday, a sweet end to a tribute concert that turned into a memorial through some bizarre timing.

Jakob Dylan, Michael Stipe, the Flaming Lips and Heart’s Ann Wilson were among the artists who joined Bowie’s former collaborator Tony Visconti and other musicians who had performed with the late rock star.

“God bless David Bowie,” Dylan said after performing the 1970s anthem “Heroes.”

Organizers of an annual benefit for music education that focuses on the work of a particular artist had decided last fall that Bowie would be featured for its 13th year. They publicly announced it in January — just hours before Bowie’s family said the rock star had died on Jan 10.

The concert sold out in two hours, demand so fierce that a second show was added for Friday at Radio City Music Hall.

After Bowie died, so many artists who were invited to perform said they wanted to do it that organizers didn’t have enough room and had to turn some away, said Michael Dorf, who produced the show.

“We felt kind of awkward because we are usually so humbly grateful to anyone who wants to participate in this,” he said.

For much of the night, an enthusiastic, quick-to-its feet audience tried to will the performers into a better show than they gave. While some of Bowie’s best-known work was featured, there was an equal amount of more obscure songs from his career.

Stipe, the former R.E.M. singer who now sports a flowing, grey beard and nose ring, sang a hushed version of “Ashes to Ashes” in duet with Karen Nelson.

Blondie leader Deborah Harry wore a silver hoodie, and brought the crowd to its feet with her take on “Starman.” Cyndi Lauper, with cotton candy-pink hair, struggled with the lyrics to “Suffragette City” and Laurie Anderson’s “Always Crashing in the Same Car” sounded under-rehearsed.

Wilson got the audience moving with “Let’s Dance,” while Rickie Lee Jones spoke-sang an acoustic version of “All the Young Dudes.”

After a feedback-drenched take on “The Man Who Sold the World,” Joseph Arthur unfurled an American flag that had an unprintable message to Donald Trump spray-painted on it.

The Flaming Lips injected a necessary note of weirdness. Singer Wayne Coyne wore a suit of lights and sat atop the shoulders of a bandmate dressed as Chewbaca for “Life on Mars.”

A tiff the night before cost the show one of its best-known acts, the Roots. Leader Questlove said the Roots were pulling out, annoyed that the drummer for the band Holy Holy would not share equipment during a rehearsal.

Cirque du Soleil is not doing flips over Justin Timberlake’s hit song “Don’t Hold the Wall.”

The Canadian theatrical performance company on Thursday sued the superstar singer with allegations that the song copied part of one of Cirque du Soleil’s original compositions without permission.

Timberlake’s song appeared on his 2013 double album “20/20,” which has sold more than two million copies.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in New York claimed Timberlake borrowed from the song “Steel Dream,” which was originally on Cirque du Soleil’s 1997 album, “QUIDAM.”

The suit seeks a minimum of $800,000 in damages for copyright infringement.

In addition to Timberlake, the lawsuit also named among the defendants the producer Timbaland — real name Timothy Mosley — who helped write the song, and Sony Music Entertainment , which released the album.

Representatives for the defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

Copyright infringement lawsuits are relatively common in the music world. In one high-profile case last year, the estate of soul singer Marvin Gaye won a $7.4 million jury verdict against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over their hit single “Blurred Lines.”

Rap mogul Jay-Z has sued the original owners of his Tidal streaming service for allegedly inflating subscriber figures, in the latest twist to the company’s uneven relaunch.

Jay-Z last year bought Tidal from Aspiro, a tech company based in Norway and listed in Sweden, for 464 million Swedish kronor ($56 million) as he sought to enter the fast-growing streaming sector and challenge leader Spotify.

“It became clear after taking control of Tidal and conducting our own audit that the total number of subscribers was actually well below the 540,000 reported to us by the prior owners,” Tidal said in a statement Thursday.

“As a result, we have now served legal notice to parties involved in the sale,” it said, declining further details due to the litigation.

The lawsuit was first reported by the Norwegian business newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv, which said that Jay-Z’s business arm Project Panther Bidco sent a notice to several Aspiro board members.

It quoted a representative for one of the stakeholders, Norwegian media group Schibsted, as denying the allegations and saying that Aspiro presented accurate and transparent data.

Tidal described the allegedly inflated Aspiro data as a new sign of success for the service, which announced Tuesday, on the anniversary of Jay-Z’s relaunch, that it had three million subscribers.

“The growth in our subscriber numbers has been even more phenomenal than we’ve previously shared,” the statement said.

Aspiro, which still runs the WiMP streaming service available in five European countries, has focused on high-end audio, with Tidal using Flac files that are more data-intensive than those used by most rivals.

In its relaunch by Jay-Z, Tidal has cast itself as a streaming service geared toward artists and has since distinguished itself by providing exclusives as well as original video content.

But last year’s announcement was widely derided for its optics, with some of the richest names in music such as Madonna and Kanye West named as shareholders and appearing at a news conference to spread the message that artists need better payment.

Sweden-based Spotify, whose compensation structure has been criticized by some artists, remains by far the streaming leader, recently saying it had 30 million paying subscribers.

It is followed by Apple Music, which was launched in June as the tech giant saw a future in streaming and has quickly grown to 11 million subscribers.

Paris-based Deezer says it has six million paying subscribers but many are inactive and come through bundles with telecom operators, which are points of ambiguity in determining services’ numbers.

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