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Column: Bowie tribute bands entertain crowds

Cary Ashby • Updated Sep 16, 2019 at 1:29 PM

LORAIN — For diehard David Bowie fans, there is nothing like seeing two talented tribute bands. It's even better since I attended those concerts with wonderful friends.

Two Bowie tribute bands performed in Northern Ohio recently. Diamond Dogs, led by Avon resident Richard Kline, played at the House of Blues during a Sept. 6 concert opened by a Pretenders tribute band, Talk of the Town. On Saturday, David Brighton’s Space Oddity entertained the crowd at the Lorain Palace Theater. Virtuoso guitarist Michael Weber and his band, The Michael Weber Show, opened the concert with a high-energy performance that thrilled fans.

Brian Paul Sr. and his wife, Shannon Martin-Paul, and Norwalk residents Jeff Bertram and his girlfriend Dana Neel attended the Diamond Dogs show with me. The Martins play in a couple bands with drummer Dave Clark and Martin-Paul recruited the lead guitarist, Dave Maxson, as a last-minute fill-in for a Nomad Soul gig in Brook Park.

Bertram said he “thoroughly enjoyed the show,” which featured such Bowie hits as “Space Oddity,” “Ziggy Stardust,” “Young Americans,” “Ashes to Ashes,” “Let’s Dance,” China Girl” and “I’m Afraid of Americans.”

“The House of Blues was the perfect venue for Diamond Dogs, which delivered a strong performance with an amazing stage presence that produced a powerful blend of hard blues/rock or psychedelic folk/rock renditions of so many David Bowie classics,” he said.

Kline and Brighton showed off their strong voices, which was a nice complement for the songs the bands chose. Diamond Dogs opened the show with the lead singer wearing the powder-blue suit and bright red platform shoes that Bowie sported in the “Life on Mars?” video from his Ziggy Stardust days.

During Maxson’s lengthy and stellar solo in “Moonage Daydream,” Kline left the stage to change into a black and white outfit reminiscent of the one Bowie wore during his 1990 greatest hits world tour. The second Diamond Dogs set focused on material from the mid-1970s through the three singles from the 1983 “Let’s Dance” album – the title track, “China Girl” and “Modern Love.” Kline added a Union Jack overcoat from the 1997 “Earthling” album for the two-song encore set.

Being a saxophonist, I appreciated the spot-on solo that began “Young Americans.” Kline later quipped “that was a lot of words,” referring to the fast-moving lyrics.

While Brighton’s Space Oddity was also a quintet, there was no sax player, but keyboardist Monica Schneider did a wonderful job mimicking the sax solos in “Young Americans” and the closing of “Changes.”

Both bands played “Rebel Rebel” early in their sets; Space Oddity opened with the rocker. Each set list featured greatest hits while Brighton added four Bowie-related cover tunes –“Dancing in the Streets”; T. Rex’s “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” by Bowie’s close friend Marc Bolan, “All the Young Dudes” written for Mott the Hoople and Cream’s “I Feel Free,” a Ziggy Stardust set list rarity which Bowie recorded with Spiders from Mars lead guitarist Mick Ronson in 1993.

Brighton’s costume changes were more drastic and closely resembled Bowie’s most iconic stage outfits.

The singer portrayed the Thin White Duke in the opening set. Brighton re-entered the stage to the “2001: Space Odyssey” theme as Ziggy Stardust in a floor-length, white Japanese robe. Schneider pulled off the robe, revealing Brighton wearing a multi-colored jumpsuit and red platform shoes. The charismatic performer wore the bright yellow baggy suit identical to the “Modern Love” video for the third and final set.

Friend and co-worker Ron Simpson attended the Space Oddity concert with me. We also saw Brighton perform in April 2018 with Windbourne’s Music of David Bowie band backed by the Toledo Symphony Orchestra.

“I’ve seen David Brighton twice and he’s just as good the second time around. He has such great stage presence and he plays to the audience so well. By the time the concert (was) over, I know I didn’t actually see Bowie, but it was damn close,” Simpson said.

SETLISTS

Setlist for the Diamond Dogs at the House of Blues, Cleveland (Sept. 6)

Ziggy Stardust

Rebel Rebel

Changes

Life on Mars?

Time

Space Oddity

The Jean Genie

Suffragette City

Moonage Daydream

Stay

Look Back in Anger

China Girl

“Heroes”

Ashes to Ashes

Young Americans

Let’s Dance

Modern Love

Encores: Fame

I’m Afraid of Americans

Setlist for David Brighton’s Space Oddity at the Lorain Palace Theater (Saturday)

Rebel Rebel

Young Americans

Dancing in the Streets

The Man Who Sold the World

Fame

Stay

Hang Onto Yourself

Ziggy Stardust

Bang a Gong (Get It On)

Changes

Starman/Space Oddity

Suffragette City

The Jean Genie

Let’s Dance

Blue Jean

China Girl

All the Young Dudes

I Feel Free

Under Pressure

Encore: “Heroes”

Norwalk Reflector Videos