Added on 25-May-2007
Brian May rises out of the stage in a puff of smoke as Bohemian Rhapsody blasts from the speakers. The Queen guitarist's feet are planted wide as he wields his axe in that trademark vertical pose, like King Arthur brandishing Excalibur. Then there's that famous mop of hair - it's so big and just as distinctive as those legendary guitar licks.
The capacity crowd are on their feet. Some are clapping and whooping, others throw the heavy metal salutes and fists in the air. You don't get a chance to see Brian May play guitar very often, let alone see him play Rhapsody, Queen's classic 1975 hit.
For those unfamiliar with May's credentials, he's regarded as one of rock's best and most influential axemen. Even the real Queen probably thinks so - it was May who played God Save the Queen on thTonight, May, and Queen drummer, Roger Taylor, are making a special appearance during the finale of the Queen musical, We Will Rock You, at the Dominion Theatre on Tottenham Court Rd in London's West End. This doesn't happen every night - it's the musical's fifth birthday which makes it the longest running show at the theatre. As well as the grand rock fandango of Rhapsody, they end with Show Must Go On.
New Zealand audiences have the chance to see the show when it starts next weekend in a production featuring Rockstar INXS finalist Mig Ayesa as Galileo ("He'll save every one of us") and New Zealander Annie Crummer as the Killer Queen.
In a plush room beside the Dominion Theatre auditorium, before the evening's birthday gig, the guitar hero is more subdued. May comes across as a polite and softly spoken English gentleman, even if it's tempting to reach out and touch his curly rock'n'roll mane.
Of course, all things Queen now operate in the long shadow of the band's flamboyant frontman Freddie Mercury, who died of Aids in 1991. And not long into the interview he makes his presence felt. May pricks up his ears as music rumbles through the walls from the auditorium.
"It's Freddie singing It's A Beautiful Day," he says happily. "Freddie is right here with us and he's so much a part of what we still do. There are times when I get sad about Freddie, and it will always be that way. It's like if you lose a parent, or a close family member. You're always going to feel it underneath. But I feel a great joy in what we were able to do together and still, in a sense, share."
What would the over-the-top singer make of this Queen show - a musical that's set in the future, where live music is banned, and the kids are dead set on rebellion?
"I know Freddie would have loved it," says Taylor.