Gary Mullen - One Night of Queen
I was roped into seeing the Queen tribute band - Gary Mullen and the works. Let's be honest, I was no typical "Queen fan", but to be fair, this was no typical tribute act either.
I am short-sighted, so I have to wear spectacles to see distances, so as Gary is no Freddie look-alike, I had to remove my glasses to transform the natural HD into a natural "soft-focus" effect. I found this increased the visual illusion, and for me, easier to relate to.
Visually the set consisted of a pared down version of the Live Killers set, and Gary had obviously done his homework. As an actor his athleticism was on a par with the late Mr. Mercury. His stage presence (obviously the result of watching hours of video footage) and his chameleon-like performance were perfect, and certainly from any distance, the illusion of watching the real McCoy was spookily uncanny.
Visually, the only problems for me were - although the live guitarist was really bloody good (loved the authentic changing of guitars from red-special to the "love Of My Life" acoustic and "Crazy Little Thing" Stratocaster - and the authentic white Brian May Clogs) but why the long blonde hair? A cheap bottle of hair dye (especially as most of the time his hair covered his face in true heavy metal style) would have been a sound investment.
Also; Gary's Hot space jacket was a bit cheap and tacky. Freddie's original was made of black leather with leather arrow trim, so even a PVC copy would have looked better than this cheap silky/rayon fake.
Yes; I know I come over as a tad OCD, and yes; I do like to see the correct buttons on uniforms in period costume drama, so I know that for the average fan these "mistakes" may never have been noticed, but as I said above, I am no average fan! Then again;some would say it was all about the music anyway. The set of two halves consisted mostly of the "magic tour" repertoire although delivered first in "Live Killers" mode, followed by "The Works".
Two of the highlights were the live versions of an "Innuendo" medley and "The Show Must Go On", both very brave choices considering Queen were unable to perform either live, and both performed with real balls and gusto. His real forte though were the faster numbers; Keep Yourself Alive, Another One Bites the Dust, Fat Bottomed Girls, I Want To Break
Free, Don't Stop Me Now, Radio Ga Ga, Jailhouse Rock and We Will Rock You were all surprisingly accurate with Gary hitting the right notes virtually all the time. Unfortunately slower tracks like Love Of My Life and Who Wants to Live Forever (although much needed for the rollercoaster effect of the show) would have been better avoided and two more suitable alternatives (White Queen or You Take my Breath Away) could have been a better choice.
The Negatives; too undersized and "cheap" in places (The Live Killers ending with God Save The Queen was average - an ermine and crown ending would have added that little extra punch and je ne sais quoi). In the words of Freddie himself; "If a things worth doing - it's worth overdoing"
The positives: Liveloud music. He had the whole audience eating of his hand during the Radio Ga Ga, and We Will Rock You routines, and everyone (well almost everyone) were up on their feet dancing to the Jailhouse Rock. The really heartening thing was the number of youngsters in the audience under 20 years of age. This WAS their Freddie, pretty scary shoes to fill for anyone, but the crowd enjoyed him, and he did play to the crowdmagnificently.
Freddie on a bad night - not quite, but for a few magical seconds (at least during most numbers) there was always that spark which from out of nowhere (well usually behind the drummer) where he hit the most accurate and sweetly copied notes, which brought to life the illusion of "Queen" reincarnated... so there were a few times he sent shivers down my spine - not enough for my liking - but to be fair, it happened far more often than I expected. My best description would be an emotional Tardis - but without either Tom Baker or David Tennant playing the good Doctor.
Finally; I was lucky enough to meet Gary. I asked why he only recorded Freddie's existing catalogue.
Why not record "Music Of The Night", New York, New York, or Smoke Gets In Your Eyes"? He seemed surprised no one mentioned the idea to him before, and that there would be no demand...
Overall - a generous 7/10. (My more forgiving wife gave a 9/10 - but what does she know?).
In the words of Graeme Souness; "A far better player than I first thought".
If you support my idea for Gary's next album to be a "Freddie By Request", why not drop him a line, tell him you like the idea, and submit your own titles? He can be contacted at http://www.garymullenandtheworks.com/contact.htm
"Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make."