Space Oddity: the Ultimate David Bowie Experience comes to Kirby Center Aug. 9
WILKES-BARRE — David Bowie had many faces in performance and, Bowie impersonator David Brighton, has learned to represent them all.
Brighton fronts Space Oddity: the Ultimate David Bowie Experience. The tribute act, vetted by Bowie producer Harry Maslin, performs at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 9 at the F.M. Kirby Center. Brighton has played Bowie in TV commercials, worked along side the late legend and carried on the rock pioneer’s musical catalogue.
An accomplished guitarist with Kevin Dubrow and Quiet Riot before he worked as an impersonator, Brighton said tribute work was a consistent way to make a living in an often feast-or-famine industry.
“Through a strange sequence of events, I found myself portraying George Harrison in a spin off of Beatlemania,” Brighton said. “That was my introduction to the whole impersonator life and subculture.”
After touring with the Beatles tribute for five years, Brighton began a new gig between tours. He grew up listening to Bowie’s music and was told by people in the recording industry that he sounded too much like Bowie when his original band was looking for a contract.
“I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll take what I’ve learned and put together a Bowie production,” Brighton said.
Brighton said learning to impersonate Bowie was a challenge that appealed to him.
“There was a skill set I would have to learn to be able to do it,” he said. “I’d never been a flamboyant front man before. I’d been a guitar player.”
Brighton not only mastered the art of the flamboyant front man but also became known as the world’s best Bowie impersonator in voice, look and stage presence.
Accompanied by musicians who have performed with the Doors, Eddie Money, Nancy Sinatra, America and more, Brighton takes audiences through eras of Bowie’s style and sound, changing costumes anywhere from three to five times per show.
“We’ll cover Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, The Thin White Duke … there are so many Bowies,” Brighton said. “We might have a video play or have the guitar players show their prowess while I’m off becoming another Bowie.”
Brighton had the opportunity to work directly with the original Bowie on a commercial for Vittel Mineral Water and on the icon’s album “Reality.” He called the experience flattering, surreal and humbling.
“Working up close with him gave one the opportunity to see how vast his skill set really was,” Brighton said. “His performance chops were just unbelievable.”
When Bowie died in January, the tribute act changed a bit for Brighton and his band of seasoned instrumentalists.
“We’ve always held this up and said, ‘This is a musician and performer and set of musicians that have created something that’s gong to last and is worthwhile,” Brighton said. “Now, we’re holding it up all the more, and people who loved Bowie are coming to the shows and mourning, grieving their loss. It’s a sort of healing process now and a celebration of this incredible catalogue of material that was left to the world.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts
IF YOU GO:
What: Space Oddity: the Ultimate David Bowie Experience
Where: F.M. Kirby Center, 71 Public Square, Wilkes-Barre
When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 9
Additional information: Tickets for Space Oddity range from $19.50 to $39.50 and are available at www.kirbycenter.org.