“As a human, you can’t become another human,” says performer David Brighton. Coming from him, those words function less as obvious statement of fact and more as a reminder: Brighton hasn’t actually transformed into David Bowie — but he’s come pretty darn close.
As frontman of Bowie tribute act Space Oddity, Brighton takes audiences on an odyssey through the artist’s stunningly diverse career. “We cover as many of David Bowie’s characters,” he says, “as we can possibly fit in a two-hour show.”
He will bring the act to the desert at Modernism Week’s opening night party on Feb. 13 at the Palm Springs Air Museum.
Brighton’s first gig as a celebrity impersonator was “a job performing as George Harrison with a spinoff of the original Beatle Mania show,” he recalls. “That’s where I learned how it all works.” He’s been specifically embodying Bowie since 2001. (He even worked alongside the man himself in a TV commercial several years ago.)
David Brighton says he has spent years studying videos, records, and photographs, on David Bowie to craft his tribute act.
The auspicious similarity to Bowie always proved difficult in Brighton’s early days as an original recording musician. “One complaint I used to get from the record people and producers,” he notes, “is that I sounded too much like David Bowie when I sang.”
Knowing that Bowie was “a voice [he] couldn’t escape,” Brighton decided to put together the show that became Space Oddity. “It takes years of studying videos, records, photographs, and anything you can get your hands on,” he says of becoming The Man Who Fell to Earth. “Then, when you’re on stage, you try to free yourself of your own inhibitions and assimilate all of these things you’ve been studying and just let it flow out of you.”
That attention to detail is obvious in Brighton’s costumes, meticulous replicas of everything from Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust look to the British-flag jacket he wore in the late 1990s. Bowie devotees notice and appreciate the dedication as Brighton’s group performs such Bowie classics as “Fame,” “Rebel Rebel,” and “Heroes.”
“Bowie fans are of an interesting and spectacular breed,” Brighton affirms. “They’re smart people … They take Bowie’s art very seriously — as, of course, do we.”
See Space Oddity perform at Space Modyssey, Modernism Week 2020’s opening night party on Feb. 13, at the Palm Springs Air Museum; modernismweek.com.