A Night of Bowie comes to the Mary Winspear Centre

Syl Thompson shadows David Bowie, performing many of his hits from early ‘70s to early ‘90s.

Syl Thompson plays as David Bowie in his upcoming performance of A Night of Bowie at the Mary Winspear Centre.

From Hunky Dory to Let’s Dance and Tonight, Vancouveer Island musician Syl Thompson will be singing many of the hits of one of music history’s most well known artists — David Bowie.

Thompson, who is originally from Nanaimo and who lives in Saanich, has been performing for as long as he can remember, in school bands with like-minded interests. It all began however, with the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, which got him interested in music.

He later starting playing clubs on the Island before moving to Vancouver to play in various cover bands throughout the 1980s.

“It was a really, really good era,” he told the PNR, adding that he’s played all the clubs over there.

It was also in the ‘80s when he got into Bowie’s music, playing covers with other musicians, in many of the clubs around Vancouver.

After performing in one particular club in Richmond, the manager approached Thompson saying he looked and sounded just like Bowie and asked him about paying a tribute concert to the British recording artist.

“In those days there wasn’t really any tributes except for, like, Elvis Presley,” said Thompson.

He later talked about it with the band, deciding they would give it a go, doing three sets. The first two, they did the top 40 or popular radio hits and the third set was a Bowie theme to see how it went.

The band however, dissolved after about a year. Thompson was approached by two agencies about continuing on with the Bowie tributes, piecing together another band.

They toured across the United States and Canada for a couple years, but Thompson later decided to pack it in.

“I was getting more interested in doing more of my own material and recording and that sort of thing,” he said.

“I didn’t really like kind of walking around being this Bowie guy…” He said adding that he thought it was time to hang it up.

He then was able to get into doing some writing and went in a different direction for many years.

“People would ask me, ‘when are you going to do that Bowie thing again?’” he said with a laugh, adding that it was always brought up.

He later relented, deciding to give it a go, and has been doing it for the last couple years.

Thompson said what he likes about Bowie is that he was an artist who came along that was so different vocally in his approach — adapting more of a theatrical bent to his music.

“I mean, he didn’t really class himself as a singer. He was more of a mind actor slash writer …” Thompson said.

“When I first heard him I just thought ‘wow, he’s got a great voice, different you know?’”

Forming the tribute band is John Gilliat on guitar, Rob Begg on bass, brothers Rob and Marc Gawthrop on keyboards, Graham Howell on saxophone and Sean Lang on drums.

Out of the entire band, it was guitarist Gilliat who met Bowie who was playing in a club in Vancouver when the Bollywood Awards were taking place. Bowie was said to be in town that day as he had a connection to one of the film’s musically.

Gilliat, who was playing across the street from one of the hotels, was approached by a waiter on his break saying a couple of people had wanted to meet him in a private room.

Gilliat later went in there and the gentleman had a hat on and what looked like a wig underneath and introduced himself as David Bowie.

The upcoming performance will take the audience back to Bowie’s most memorable hits, focussing on his peak years from the early ’70s to the early ’90s.

The performance, Thompson said, will show a bit of a multi-media presentation by video artist Photon, with large screens in the back showing images of Bowie, going along with each song.

The show will take place at the Mary Winspear Centre on Sept. 23. For ticket information call 250-656-0275.

Just Posted

Driver charged in Central Saanich pedestrian’s death appears in court

Victim Kim Ward, 51, died on scene at the August 2018 crash

Second puppy killed by poisonous mushrooms in Victoria

Springer spaniel puppy died after consuming mushrooms in Fairfield neighbourhood

Western Speedway racing legend ‘The Flying Plumber’ turns 98

Dave Cooper recalls car crashes, his first win, and more

Nuisance tree will remain on perimeter of Fireman’s Park

Council re-affirm pledge to protecting healthy tree canopy

Central Saanich hosts NEAT program to help seniors connect with each other

Health promotion program aims to reduce social isolation among seniors

WATCH: Greater Victoria’s top stories of the day

A round-up of the day’s top stories

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

Woman, 24, faces life-altering injuries after being dragged 4 blocks by vehicle in Vancouver

A gofundme account says the woman will have to undergo multiple complex surgeries

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

Two RCMP vehicles vandalized in Duncan over long weekend

Local Mounties asking for help in finding culprits

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

Most Read