BowieLIVE brings British glam rocker’s music to Irwin’s Lamp Theatre |
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Mary Pickels

A love of David Bowie’s music, and a common denominator of residing in Pittsburgh, led five musicians to form the tribute band BowieLIVE.

Those musicians will take the stage at Irwin’s Lamp Theatre for the first time at 8 p.m. March 16.

Lead singer Chris Theoret has the voice and musical skill to, with a little help from make-up and wardrobe, morph into Bowie and deliver the goods to fans, Jeff Yeckel says.

Lead guitar with BowieLIVE, Yeckel, 46, of Bethel Park, says most of the members have day jobs, primarily in the music field.

Jim Talarico plays keyboard and rhythm guitar, Matt Muckle is the drummer and Eric Hundenski plays bass, Yeckel adds.

“Chris and I have known each other and played in bands together for years. … He always sounded like David Bowie,” he says.

Bowie evolution

Yeckel saw Theoret perform as Bowie a few years ago at a Byham Theater show.

“I thought, ‘It was great. He’s just fantastic. He’s meant to be singing this stuff,’ ” he recalls.

He left the concert, Yeckel says, thinking, “I need to be in this band.”

After seeing the band rehearse, longtime Pittsburgh concert promoter Richard Engler offered to manage the group.

“I knew them individually, but never as a unit. I was absolutely floored, how authentic and real it sounded. There are no bells and whistles, no backing tracks, all great harmonies,” Engler says.

“Chris hits the notes, has the moves of (Bowie), the gestures and body language. I said, ‘I’m in,’ ” he recalls.

It’s the first tribute band he’s managed. “I just thought that they were so good I had to do it. I’m just proud to be involved with them. If you love David Bowie, you are going to be totally knocked out,” Engler says.

Breaking out of the ‘Burgh

After receiving demos and videos, Engler began contacting booking agents for the band.

The band travels up and down the East Coast, often playing multicity shows over a weekend. “We go as far south as Florida, and up to Vermont. … It’s just starting to finally really take a hold, where people are finding us now,” Yeckel says.

Bowie, from the beginning

“We try to do a chronological (Bowie show). … The first set is the early years, Ziggy Stardust, crazy, flamboyant look, with the make-up and costumes. Then the mid- to late-’70s era, the Thin White Duke, with (Bowie’s) dapper dress, hair slicked back. Then we move into the ’80s with “China Girl,” “Let’s Dance,” “Modern Love,’ ” Yeckel says.

The band’s audience has, he says, a “certain amount of younger people.”

“But a middle-aged crowd (who grew up with Bowie’s music) is probably most common,” he says.

“We do slip in one or two deeper tracks. … His fans know all the tunes on every single album,” he says.

Tribute popularity

Yeckel says a lot of music currently being produced falls into the pop genre, but an audience exists for classic band music.

Thus, tribute bands featuring the music of The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac all do well on the concert circuit.

“With us, you can’t see the real David Bowie (who died in 2016) any more. We are not trying to be a carbon copy,” Yeckel says.

“Every place we’ve played we’ve been asked back. We’ve never gone in and laid an egg. It’s because of Chris’s voice. He can hit all the notes, high and low.”

“Chris takes you there and keeps you there all night long. … We’re all huge (Bowie) fans. … For me, there is no more interesting, fun music to be playing,” Yeckel says.

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