The buzz surrounding the Usher Hall prior to tonight’s tribute act might have fooled an uninformed observer into believing the real Bowie was making an appearance in Edinburgh – and while his genius will certainly never be seen again, Laurence Knight does an incredible job of getting as close to the real thing as humanly possible.
Such is the legacy that Bowie left behind that the audience is comprised of all age groups and segments of society, though unsurprising there are definitely more in attendance over the age of 45 than under it. Presumably for that reason, the stalls of Usher Hall are seated tonight, but any initial scepticism as to how that will affect the atmosphere of the gig is soon dispelled. After seven or eight songs, the first few audience members leave their seats behind and let the music take them; by the halfway point, the aisles are positively bouncing with Bowie fans reliving the magic of the man’s music.
Knight takes us on a journey through Bowie’s career, covering all of the big hits imaginable and throwing in a few lesser known ones for good measure, too. The first half of the set is particularly strong, with an opening trio of Space Oddity, Queen Bitch and Starman starting as the band mean to go on and other gems include Life on Mars, Ziggy Stardust, Jean Genie, Suffragette City and Rebel Rebel.
But while Knight’s voice is pitch-perfect throughout, he only really seems to get into his stride after the interval. The songlist from the second half might not contain as many instantly recognisable hits, but Knight really steps into his role as the show progresses, whirling through more costume changes than seems feasible for a three-hour performance. The visuals on the backdrop also up their game in the second half, bringing a mite more energy to the whole affair.
Meanwhile, the backing band’s attire might rely a little more on glitz and glam than the authenticity of Knight’s costumes, but none of them put a foot wrong all night. In particular, Tim Wedlake shines on guitar and Emily Westwood’s sonorous saxophone adds an extra layer to the musical tapestry that the Bowie Experience are weaving. Charlotte Elizabeth Talbot also gives an accomplished (if a little theatrical) turn as Freddie Mercury on the duet Under Pressure, and the show is brought to a close with the twin crowd-pleasers of Heroes and All the Young Dudes. Not a single member of the audience wants it to end.
David Bowie might not have known where he is going next, but he promised it won’t be boring. With Laurence Knight and the Bowie Experience around to keep his spirit alive, at least some of the fun will be left for us here on planet Earth. An unrivalled tribute act which thoroughly deserve all of the plaudits they receive.