It seemed as if David Bowie was playing at Atlantis Resort Casino this past weekend, but it was David Brighton and his band paying tribute to David Bowie. There are a lot of tribute bands out there these days. Some play the songs, and some put on a show, reenacting what once was. David Brighton’s “Space Oddity” show is the latter. Brighton takes on the role of David Bowie completely. When he talks to the audience he is in character, speaking in the first person as David Bowie, sharing experiences and stories.
Stepping into David Bowie’s shoes is no easy task. Having taken over the music world in 1968 as Ziggy Stardust, Bowie never really left the spotlight. With mountains of material (video, photographs, and music) to draw from, Brighton had endless resources with which to hone his skills. He mastered Bowie’s mannerisms and moves, and having an uncanny resemblance helped him in presenting a fantastic performance as David Bowie.
Mr. Brighton’s show was presented in three acts. First up was “The Thin White Duke”, followed by “Ziggy Stardust”, and finishing with the “Serious Moonlight” era. These sections were each preceded with video footage and commentary from fellow musicians and industry people talking about David Bowie. All of his band members have extensive and impressive resumes. This was a good band, presenting a top-notch show.
I saw David Bowie live twice, and being a huge fan I’ve watched countless videos of him, and own several of his concert videos. I can attest to David Brighton’s Bowie performance as being second-to-none (except David Bowie’s, of course).
A friend said to me, “What’s up with all the tribute bands. Is new music THAT bad?” Even though I am of the opinion that a lot of today’s music is lacking, that’s not what is fueling tribute bands. With the changes in the music business over the past several years, it’s a huge challenge for musicians to make a living. Musicians are challenged at building careers today, and creating a tribute band is a viable option. There is an audience for this genre of entertainment. Each generation grows up with their own life soundtrack. When their heroes begin passing away or retiring they still want to experience the joys of their musical youth, and now it’s an option. Just as we can enjoy a Mozart Sonata, we can also enjoy a Bowie rock concert.
Nick McCabe is a Reno-based photojournalist and musician. He’s been shooting concerts in the Reno-Tahoe area since 2006 and writing articles and reviews since 2012, as well as doing interviews on occasion. His musical education and playing experience goes back to 1967. He is a founding member of the Reno Tahoe Forte’ Awards, and he still plays music locally for enjoyment. First concert: Jimi Hendrix. Last concert: we’ll see.