David Brighton performs the music of David Bowie with the Philharmonic at Schuster


David Brighton performs the music of David Bowie with the Dayton Philharmonic

By Tim Walker

Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. The Thin White Duke. Aladdin Sane. Space Oddity. Suffragette City. Rebel, Rebel. Scary Monsters.

In the long history of the variegated world of popular music, few artists have commanded the universal respect and admiration that David Bowie did during his five-decade career. A true ch-ch-ch-ch-changeling, with his evocative and instantly recognizable voice, bizarre and ever-evolving stage personas, and classic songs, Bowie created for himself a unique niche in the world of entertainment that would eventually encompass print, fashion, and film as well as music. During his lifetime the artist sold over 140 million records worldwide, and following his untimely January 2016 death at the age of 69 from liver cancer, his legions of stunned fans, from all nations and all walks of life, mourned his loss and have continued to celebrate his many accomplishments.

The Dayton Philharmonic, in the third installment of its Rockin’ Orchestra series for the 2017-2018 season, will present ”Space Oddity: David Brighton as David Bowie” on Saturday, January 6th at the Schuster Center, located on the corner of 2nd and Main Street in Dayton. This one-night-only performance, which begins at 8pm, will feature guest performer David Brighton — his resemblance to Bowie in appearance and voice is astonishing — and his band playing the music of Bowie along with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, which will be conducted for the performance by Neal Gittleman.

“We’re really excited about this,” says David Brighton recently when he spoke with the Dayton City Paper. “Playing with symphonies is always an adventure. It’s great to… rather than play the orchestral parts on a synthesizer, it’s amazing having them played live. It’s really an awesome experience, and we’re really looking forward to that. And what we will cover is, we will go through Bowie’s chronology, of all the iconic personas and eras and stages and genres that he covered — well, he actually invented many different forms of music. So we’ll be doing everything from before the Ziggy Stardust era through his dance era and pop era and experimental and everything.”

David Bowie’s breakthrough to stardom came in 1972 when he adopted the Ziggy Stardust persona and released the seminal album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars — although he had released four albums prior to that, all to mediocre sales. Numerous influential hit songs would follow, and singles later pulled from those first four albums — notably a little ditty from 1969 called “Space Oddity” — would suddenly find new life on the singles charts and become hits years after they were recorded. Bowie would go on to collaborate with Brian Eno, John Lennon (the two co-wrote the hit song “Fame”), and others, and would eventually become one of the most popular and best-selling musicians on the planet. His major hit songs include “China Girl”, “Let’s Dance”, “Modern Love”, “Young Americans”, and “Fashion”, and his influence on the world of modern popular music continues to this day.

“I grew up with David Bowie,” continues Brighton. “I grew up on what we now call ‘classic rock’, I suppose. I think when I was 16 or 17 I heard my first Bowie song on the radio and I said to myself ‘What is that?’ because it was so different. So then I went back and bought all the old records I’d missed. I was always a fan of English rock in general, and Bowie of course was one of the game changers.”

A favorite with local audiences, the Rockin’ Orchestra Series, sponsored each year by Dayton Freight, remains one of the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance and the Dayton Philharmonic’s most popular series each year. In each Rockin’ Orchestra performance, the DPO performs a selection of popular songs by a particular artist while accompanied by a talented rock band and at least one vocalist. Upcoming performances in this season’s series will celebrate the music of Led Zeppelin, U2, and The Who’s “Tommy”, while past performances have paid tribute to Elton John, Paul McCartney, Prince, and Billy Joel.

The January 6th performance of the music of David Bowie promises to be one of the highlights of this year’s season, however. With the DPO and conductor Neal Gittleman, a catalog of so many incredible songs to choose from, and a performer as in tune with Bowie’s personas and musical legacy as David Brighton is, the “Space Oddity” performance is a not-to-be-missed evening of music and entertainment that promises to kick off 2018 with a bang. 

The DPAA and the Dayton Philharmonic presents “Space Oddity: David Brighton as David Bowie” at the Schuster Center on Saturday, January 6th. The performance starts at 8pm, and tickets are still available. Call the box office at (888) 228-3630 or visit ticketcenterstage.com for more information.

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Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black T-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at TimWalker@DaytonCityPaper.com

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