David Brighton’s Space Oddity touches down in Lake Tahoe with David Bowie’s most popular songs

Space Oddity
David Brighton’s Space Oddity channeled the music of David Bowie into the South Shore Room.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Tim Parsons

There’s something about fame that never fades.

South Shore concertgoers enjoyed an evening of David Bowie’s music on Saturday, April 16, when David Brighton’s Space Oddity tribute to David Bowie took the stage at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe.

Brighton has honed his impression of the late pop star to an impressive edge, nailing Bowie’s vocal styles, stage mannerisms and costumes, while doing a solid job of recreating the artist’s facial appearance as well.

Space Oddity opened up with tunes such as “Rebel Rebel” and “Everything’s Alright” as the South Shore Room filled with swaying fans spanning several generations. There were obvious lifelong followers as well as folks like myself, who are younger than most of Bowie’s hits.

“So how are we doing tonight? We feeling good? Thank you Lake Tahoe, let’s go back to 1985,” Brighton called to the crowd, before launching into “Dancing in the Street,” a song written by Marvin Gaye that Bowie recorded with Mick Jagger.

Brighton’s band brings a lot to the table, with the quintet putting out an impressive range of sound and styles. Guitarists Chris Switch and Paul Nelson contributed excellent backing vocals, and took turns playing both rhythm and lead. Donna Cristy on keyboards also sang backup, while churning out an impressive array of horns, synths, organ and keys to round out Bowie’s complex pop arrangements.

One highlight was “The Man Who Sold the World,” which this writer quite honestly thought was a Nirvana tune (the Seattle grunge band did cover this song). My girlfriend, a huge Bowie fan, set me straight on that score, leading me to reflect briefly on Bowie’s unintentional anticipation of Kurt Cobain’s mournful, meandering vocal style two decades before Nirvana’s ascent to iconic status.

Space Oddity covered a wide range of Bowie’s stylistic ground, with Brighton quickly ducking offstage to change outfits three times. He started off in black vest and pants with a white dress shirt, then switching to the red wig and sparkling leather jacket of Ziggy Stardust, before finally emerging with Bowie’s yellow suit and unbuttoned black bowtie with white polka dots.

The crowd was treated to numerous hits, including “China Girl,” “Fame,” “Starman,” and the eponymous “Space Oddity” (“Ground Control to Major Tom”). My favorite tune came up late in the show, when the unmistakable bass beat of “Under Pressure” filled the air. One of the guitar players (I’m not sure if it was Switch or Nelson) did an excellent Freddie Mercury impression during the song, recreating almost perfectly the high, sweeping falsettos of the late Queen frontman.

Brighton also put obvious effort into rendering Bowie’s stage persona, constantly kneeling in the face of front row fans, and effecting the Brit’s accent and reminiscences while talking to the crowd in between numbers. A platform extended into the middle of the crowd, allowing him to do some catwalking. I’m sure Brighton made a number of fans’ night as well, when he reached out and grabbed outstretched mobile phones to snap a quick selfie of the fan from the stage perspective.

These musicians clearly devote substantial time and energy into authentically portraying the music, styles, and persona of David Bowie, putting on extremely enjoyable show for the South Shore crowd. A number of times, I found myself musing over just how many fantastic and catchy songs Bowie wrote during his extensive career.

While Bowie has passed on, music lovers can still enjoy a night of his music, thanks to Brighton and Space Oddity.

Related story: Musician recalls appearing with David Bowie in “Day In Day Out” video. LINK

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Tahoe Onstage is an online entertainment and sports magazine covering Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Reno, the Carson Valley and June Lake.

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