I am a true, diehard Queen fan. The first five albums, I know better than the back of my hand. I can tell you every song, in order, who wrote the songs, who sang lead vocal and what special instruments were used in addition to the basic guitar, drums, bass and vocals.
Whenever I go to see a Queen tribute band, I don’t expect much, because #1, there was and is only ONE Freddie Mercury; #2, even if the band was awful (and none ever were), it’s still great to hear all those old songs performed live.
I only saw Queen once in 1982. Then I saw them again in 2005, with Paul Rodgers. Then I saw Almost Queen, an amazing tribute band, many times.
Last night I saw One Night of Queen, featuring Gary Mullen and The Works: http://www.garymullenandtheworks.com/
Now, Elvis fans categorize Elvis into two categories: Young Elvis (the Sun record years) and Las Vegas Elvis or Fat Elvis.
Queen fans similarly categorize Queen: Glam Rock Freddie (the first five albums) and Gay Freddie (when he cut his hair and grew a mustache). I’ve yet to see a Freddie impersonator do Glam Rock Freddie, which as a Queen fan I am totally craving! Maybe someday, somewhere, I hope to see that.
Gary Mullen made a spectacular Gay Freddie. For the entire evening he did not break character and his banter in between songs was hysterical, in true Freddie fashion, prancing about, teasing the crowd, acting naughty and even encouraging audience members to pat him on the ass — which they did (both female and male fans). He had Freddie’s moves down to a science. I think some fans actually believed Mullen was Mercury, even though he looked more like Freddie’s lover, Jim Hutton, who wrote the book, “Mercury and Me,” which isn’t a bad thing. He made the show so much fun, so lively …. a real hoot and Freddie would be pleased.
Mullen sounds a lot like Freddie and has a lot of passion in his vocals. Unfortunately the other members of the band lack the vocal chops, so the evening was filled with songs by Freddie Mercury and Brian May (which Freddie often sang), omitting songs by Queen drummer, Roger Taylor, like the hit “I’m in Love with My Car” and older songs like “Ogre Battle” where Taylor would scream outrageously.
What lacked in vocals was made up in musicianship. The audience was treated to amazing bass lines from Billy Moffat (who actually played like my favorite bassist of all time, Japan’s Mick Karn); extremely impressive David Brockett duplicating Brian May’s unique guitar sound; a stellar drum solo from Jonathan Evans; and Malcolm Gentles holding it all together on keys. (Mullen did not play keys or piano as Freddie did, but came out with guitar during “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”)
When One Night of Queen started to play “Bohemian Rhapsody” I said to my husband, “Let’s see how they pull this one off.”
They pulled it off just like Queen did — by lowering the lights and playing tapes of the operatic vocals. Queen’s, not theirs. But you gotta do what you gotta do.
The most astonishing part of the evening was Brockett performing “Love of My Life” on guitar, which was originally done on harp. Gorgeously done!
My one issue — not just with this band, but many bands both tributes and originals — is always when live artists don’t play entire songs. I’d rather hear less songs but fuller songs. I want the whole enchilada! It’s the most annoying thing to hear your favorite song sliced to pieces (like they do on American Idol) or missing lyrics. It’s like having a skip in your favorite vinyl record or tuning in to your favorite song on the radio when it’s half over. So I was disappointed with a few songs that weren’t done in entirety, like “Brighton Rock.”
But I definitely had a fabulous time at this show.
The song list included:
“Don’t Stop Me Now,” “Fat Bottom Girls,” “Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy,” “Killer Queen,” “Somebody to Love,” “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions,” “Keep Yourself Alive,” “Under Pressure,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” and so much more. They played two long sets with a break in between, when Mullen encouraged the crowd to go to the bar!
I’d definitely go see One Night of Queen again, a fun trip down memory lane for this major Queen fan! I wanted to buy a “Fat Bottom Girl” t-shirt, but while it may have seemed like a good idea when you;re under the influence of a New Castle Brown on tap and high on Queen euphoria, I highly doubt in my regular state of mind I’d have the guts to wear it. HA!