I am known as a Bowie die-hard. I didn’t ask for this title, nor do I consider myself worthy of it, but nonetheless it has been bestowed upon me. So, I was hesitant to say the least at going to my first Bowie tribute. I have seen Bowie himself four times and despite many blogs about it – I still find it hard to put my emotions of how I felt on those occasions into words. However, The Bowie Experience was coming to Milton Keynes Theatre so off I went to experience it.
Front row and centre, I had access to everything. The band were altogether and were very good – real musicians playing Bowie really well. And then on walked Laurence Knight dressed as Bowie. We started with Space Oddity which with the background light show was quite awe-inspiring.
And then it started. All my favourite 70’s Bowie including, Queen Bitch, Starman (and yes he pointed at me!) Life On Mars, Moonage Daydream, Watch That Man and many others. The first set had some tracks that people who just ‘like’ Bowie won’t really know or may know but not appreciate. For example, Aladdin Sane and The Man Who Sold The World. I was disappointed that he got the words to Suffragette City wrong (sung the second part of chorus twice) but this is only what a die-hard would notice. I also felt a bit sorry for the keyboard guy who was having to wear a Rick Wakeman cape. It was not a good look. However, bald Mick Ronson, aka Tim Wedlake was absolutely awesome on the guitar. He totally nailed it and gave true homage to Mick.
I was disappointed that Laurence didn’t tell us to get up and dance earlier in the set list. In a sit down theatre we really do need permission to stand up – just in case the theatre staff tell us off. It is worth noting for future shows. However, during the second half there was no need ‘cause people did start to get up (yes, I am disappointed it was to Let’s Dance but remember this audience are not die-hards)
The second half set-list did not disappoint either, with gems such as Diamond Dogs (including Future Legend!), Cracked Actor complete with skull, Boys Keep Swinging and Ashes To Ashes. I was especially excited to hear Station To Station which rarely gets played – but then they cut it and went into Golden Years just as it was warming up. I just don’t understand why the band put it in if they were going to cut the best bit out – and it’s not the side effect of the cocaine! Completing the set was Blue Jean, and Heroes and finishing on All The Young Dudes.
The costume changes were impressive and outfits were a good representation of bowie’s reincarnations. I especially love the Earthling Union Jack jacket. Laurence gives a good Bowie and can genuinely sing well. However, on occasions he seemed to mumble or perhaps it was a lack of confidence. This was a shame as he did seem to warm up to the audience further on in the performance, Starting interacting with the audience earlier should get them on board - they paid their ticket and want to enjoy themselves. However, despite this, I believe that Laurence and the band truly do love Bowie and do their performances with a lot of affection. Laurence also has all the moves (like tigers on Vaseline!) and really did give it his all.
The Bowie Experience is for anyone who likes Bowie, this is one of the best tributes you will encounter. For those who never got to see the real thing, this gives a small flavour of what you missed. For the die-hards by all means go along, but go with an open mind. We know it’s not Bowie. We just want to hear those magical songs.
The final word comes from my 19-year-old son who asked me ‘Why didn’t they play Five Years?’ Good question! #proudmum