What it's like to step into David Bowie's shoes ahead of Sunderland tribute show
Laurence Knight is the star of The Bowie Experience. The Guide spoke to him about stepping into the platform shoes of an icon.
Could you describe how the opportunity to play David Bowie came about?
“I had been in the music business for a few years prior to forming my David Bowie show as a musician, singer, composer, and had performed a few of David’s songs in public and on recordings.
“People around me started to comment that when I sung his songs I sounded like him and they said I should do something with that, so I did a couple of performances as David Bowie to test the waters and some more people said I should do something with it, so I kept on doing things with it and still do, so thanks to all those people who told me what to do.”
What period of David’s career would have been your favourite, and what was your favourite song?
“I am a fan of David Bowie so I am fond of (nearly) everything he did, but if I had to choose for my sojourn on that desert island I would choose what they call his Berlin period (Low, Heroes, Lodger) up to and including the album Scary Monsters, and then from 1996 (Outside) up to the last album, Blackstar.”
Was the show put together in direct response to David’s death or were there already plans afoot?
“I started doing shows about 19 years ago and during that time my presentations have been a response to changing times and moods and the desire to extend into the uncharted.
“So, as a continuation of this practice I, along with a very talented team, began talks and plans around 18 months before he died to put together the current show.
“Our ideas didn’t include the notion that his death was predictable in any way, it just wasn’t on the horizon as far as we could see.”
What has your proudest moment in your career been before now?
“Pride? Now there is a thorny one.
“I am proud of the wonderfully-talented people I have had and continue to have the pleasure to work with.
“As for myself, pride is not something particularly relevant, that implies a kind of selfish inflated ego and what I do is not about me, it’s about David and his work.
“I am fully aware that who he is and what he has done is way beyond what I could feasibly conjure, his talent is humbling to one such as me.”
Is there anyone in the current music scene who you see as taking on David’s mantle?
“That’s akin to asking if there is anyone in the current music scene who could take on the mantle of Led Zeppelin, or Nirvana, or Jimmy Hendrix, or The Beatles, or The Sex Pistols.
“I could go on, but the point is David Bowie along with the ones I have mentioned, and there are more of course, had their roots in ground they shared with others, but they all flowered in their own unique way.
“So, no, there isn’t anyone on the current music scene who I see as taking on his mantle and to have a hope or expectation that there might be is a delusion.”
•Laurence Knight stars in Bowie Experience – the Golden Years Tour. The show plays Sunderland Empire for one night only on January 28.
Tickets for the show are available in person at the Box Office, from Tel. 0844 871 3022 or online at www.ATGtickets.com/Sunderland