News > Singer takes on `great challenge'

Added on 02-Apr-2009

Craig Pesco has performed in front of 47,000 people during the 2006 Football World Cup in Germany, opened for Kiss, and knocked back tequila shots with sometime Van Halen singer Sammy Hagar - yet despite those highlights, when asked if he recalls his last visit to Nelson, he doesn't miss a beat.

"We last played there in 2003. I remember we did two shows on that day."

He laughs and adds: "That's never my favourite part of the production."

If you're struggling to place his name, don't worry - you'll no doubt know of his alter ego.

Pesco is a founding member of the Queen - It's a Kinda Magic tribute production, and has the daunting task of performing as the British rock band's flamboyant frontman Freddie Mercury.

Speaking from the Gold Coast the morning after a rehearsal - Nelson is the second date on an upcoming tour after a three-month break - Pesco says everyone expected him to be reticent about taking on the role of one of rock`n'roll's greatest sons when the production began over seven years ago.

Not so, says the affable Australian.

"I was enthusiastic about it. It was a great challenge but it was something I was sure I could do - I had been inspired by Queen and Freddie."

Pesco admits that his love of Queen was a relatively late development.

It only really took off upon the release of Queen's last studio album, Made in Heaven, which was released in 1995, four years after Mercury's death.

But since then, he has devoted a large part of his life to the band, including striking up a friendship with Mercury's personal assistant, Peter Freestone.

After this year's touring, Pesco is travelling to India with Freestone to film a documentary about Mercury's early years.

A musician for most of his life, Pesco says playing the role of Mercury is a dream assignment.

His favourite songs to perform are those that allowed Mercury to unleash his energy on stage, such as It's a Hard Life and Seven Seas of Rhye.

Pesco says the group are looking forward to bringing the show back to New Zealand, and hope to blur the lines between what is happening on stage and what is being shown on the big screens they will be employing.

"New Zealand and Australia were the places we first started with this production. We were not sure how it was going to go, so we want to thank them for encouraging us to keep going."

Queen It's a Kinda Magic, Nelson School of Music, Saturday, February 21.

Submitted by: Richard Orchard

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