As one of the most acclaimed and versatile artists of the 20th century, David Bowie left behind a catalogue of music that transcends the imagination of most of us mere mortals. In one of their biggest productions yet, Perth Symphony Orchestra are reimagining the music of the cultural icon in STARDUST: The Music of David Bowie, a show that has proved so popular it has been moved from its original venue at Astor Theatre to HBF Stadium on Thursday, September 17 (get your tickets here). Local musician Addison Axe (Axe Girl, The Tommyhawks), alongside her counterpart Steve Hensby (Steve Hensby Band) will be sharing the microphone on the night in a performance that aims to capture the many sides of Bowie. BRAYDEN EDWARDS spoke to Addison Axe to find out how it felt to embody such a colourful and dynamic personality and what audiences can look forward to on the night.
Some Perth audiences might already be familiar with you given you play in some popular local bands? What have you been doing musically to date and how did it lead you to be performing the songs of Bowie?
Whoa big question! I’ve worked professionally as a singer, musician, composer and performer for seventeen years – so quite a lot! This year so far I sang on one of the AC/DC Highway to Hell floats for Perth Festival, I performed in two Fringe shows, STYX and The Second Body, and I’m in two local bands; The Tommyhawks and Axe Girl. So if people are out and about on the local scene they may have come across me there!
And has David Bowie always been an inspiration to you? Is there anything you have learned about him by getting to know his material in so much more detail?
Yes, I was given a Bowie’s Greatest Hits double-cassette when I was about eight years old and I listened to it about a million times on my Sony Walkman, so I reckon he was probably one of my earliest influences. As a teen, I got hold of a VHS collection of all his video clips, and then got to go to Glastonbury in 2000 – the year Bowie headlined, so he had a strong presence in my early years. The thing that has surprised me going back over his catalogue as an adult is how complex the production and arrangements are.
You’ll be sharing the spotlight with fellow local muso Steve Hensby. What does he bring to the show making him such a good candidate to bring the music of Bowie to life on stage?
Steve is a fantastic singer, he’ll really do the songs justice and bring them to life.
Another exciting part of this show is that conductor Elise Chong will be making her Perth Symphony Orchestra debut. What can you tell us about her journey to this point and what it means to everyone involved?
I’ll be meeting Elise for the first time tomorrow and I’m extremely excited about it! Elise has come through the PSO’s Women on the Podium program, so it will be an honour to work with her.
What are you looking forward to most on the night? Is there a song in particular that stands out to you when given the orchestral treatment?
The orchestral arrangement of I’m Afraid of Americans is out of control! It is epically cool, so I’m pretty pumped about that. Ashes to Ashes is probably my favourite Bowie song, so singing that live will be magical.
Finally, if you were able to go back and attend a Bowie performance in any era what would it be and why?
Definitely the early 70s. I have a particularly soft spot for his music from that era, and to see someone that early in their career knowing what was to come would be fascinating.