The Bowie Experience, a breathtaking concert celebrating the music of the world’s great pop icon David Bowie, comes to the Usher Hall, Edinburgh, on Friday, March 29.
A must see for all Bowie fans, this mesmerizing production promises an unforgettable journey of sound and vision.
Laurence Knight, considered one of the best David Bowie performers, plays the lead role in the show.
We caught up with him to hear more about his role and the show...
What’s your favourite song to perform from the set and why?
It is difficult to pick favourites but some songs do have something particular about them. Lady Grinning Soul is enjoyable because of the voice sound, it’s a way of singing that appears on a few of David’s songs and this one is a good example. I like Hallo Spaceboy, always been a favourite both to listen to and perform, Fame has a message to all who aspire to celebrity set to a great rhythm which I find very buoyant, and Sound and Vision, which to me sounds like a sonic vision from the past, maybe the 1950s, of the future.
What period of David’s career would have been your favourite, and what was your favourite song?
I am a fan of David Bowies so I am fond of (nearly) everything he did but if I had to choose for my sojourn on that desert island I would choose what they call his Berlin period (Low, Heroes, Lodger) up to and including the album Scary Monsters, and then from 1996 (Outside) up to the last album, Blackstar.
What do you like most about being on tour?
Touring means travelling which is something I have always enjoyed. Whilst touring, travelling becomes your norm relatively quickly so there are times when it can have an otherworldly quality about it – I love being able to visit so many different places and people as part of my job.
What made you want to start Bowie Experience, and how did it all begin?
It began in September 1997. I was at music college and in the evenings and weekends I would go out with various covers bands playing the pubs and clubs. Most musicians like something from David’s catalogue so we would often perform a song or two by him. Band members and some audience members started telling me I sounded like him and that I should do something with that “like a tribute act”. This was something that had never occurred to me and to begin with I wasn’t particularly keen on as at the time I was writing and recording my own material and trying to perform and promote that. To cut a long story short, it became apparent that although I believed in my original material, no one else did and so as a huge fan of David Bowie, the idea of doing some kind of tribute was an attractive notion.
What’s been your favourite gig on tour so far?
Now that’s a question, there have been so many highlights but some have left a lasting impression. Usher Hall in Edinburgh – it was a full house, around 2,000 people, and when we went on stage to start the show with Space Oddity there was a kind of roar from the audience – that’s the only way to describe it – which set the tone for the whole show. That really instilled confidence in the whole band that we had something good going on. Another one was in Copenhagen, again upon entering the stage around 2,000 people all stood and gave us an ovation (even before we had struck a note) which didn’t seem to stop throughout the show.
Do you have a favourite on-the-road anecdote?
You know what happens on the road stays on the road, don’t you? There is one thing that, up until now, I don’t think anyone has rumbled. In the space behind the screen on stage in a theatre, while the intro music is playing and the audience are in their seats just before the show begins, we play silent football in full costume and make up; quite a sight believe me. Silent football may not sound like much but it’s quite difficult to do without making a sound or kicking the ball into the back of the screen thereby making it wobble around. But we are not as daft as you may understandably think and we have purchased a soft foam ball for the job.
What things do you like best when it comes to audience reactions/participation?
The costumes I wear on stage are amazingly authentic and often there are audible gasps from the audience at each costume change. Smiles, I like smiles, it seems to me an indication that they ‘get it’. Obviously applause and cheering. At the end of the show we do a number that people can sing along to if they wish, when an audience really goes for it, singing their heart out, it’s so affirming. And although this might sound strange to some, occasionally I see someone smiling and crying at the same time, it’s when that happens that I feel we have truly connected.
What aspects of David’s character are most fun to portray on stage?
All of David’s characters are a rich seam to be explored so to choose just a couple of aspects is like trying to unpick a woolly jumper. The fun comes in the shape of the pattern that emerges as you discover the more subtle sides of his imagination.
Could you tell us a bit about the supporting cast/band?
They are Tim, Paul, Lidia, Stuart, Charlotte, Darren and Emily on stage, and Amy off stage. Each one is immensely talented with their own rich character, unique and irreplaceable, to know what each one does is to have come to a show. Their CVs and experience are astounding to put it mildly, all are knowledgeable and qualified in their area and have worked with famous names all around the world.
• The Bowie Experience is at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh, on Friday, March 29. Tickets are available from the theatre box office, telephone 0131 228 1155, or online at www.usherhall.co.uk