Saturday, April 5, 2008

One Night Of Queen

If the spirit of Freddie Mercury lives on, it has taken up residence inside of one Gary Mullen.

Gary Mullen & The Works is the official name of the band. The show is called "One Night Of Queen."

Essentially, they're a Queen tribute band. And the show is amazing. On April 3, 2008 I brought my 16 year old daughter to this show at Proctors Theater in Schenectady, NY. I've been a fan of Queen for nearly 30 years, and when I came up with my list of the top 25 rock singers of all time, which can be seen if you click here, Freddie Mercury topped the list. Admittedly it's a subjective and opinionated list, but I think anyone who's familiar with the history of rock music would have to place Mercury at least in their top 5 if they were to make a similar list. The man was just incredible both in his vocals and in his stage presence.

My daughter is also a huge fan of Queen so she was pumped up for the show as well. We had fourth row seats. We arrived about 15 minutes before the show was scheduled to start and I was shocked at how empty the theater was. However, it was filled nearly to capacity by the time the show started.

The show is broken down into two segments, with about a 20 minute intermission in between. There's a problem when a band like this plays in theaters like this. Everybody feels they need to stay seated. It is, after all, one of those old-time fancy vaudevillian theaters that used to cater to the stuffed shirt hoity toity crowd and the atmosphere of the place, because of the architecture and embellishments and, frankly, its history almost force decorum onto the theater patron.

But this is rock and roll. And Proctors recently has brought in more of these types of acts to cater to more than just the champagne and caviar crowd. About 4 or 5 songs into the first set, the band broke into "Another One Bites The Dust". I said to my daughter, "Come on. Let's stand up and get this crowd going." Mullen had earlier stated to the crowd that they could stand up and obvious "hint" for everybody to start doing so. My daughter replied to me, "I'm not standing up if nobody else is." So I didn't. But, God, I wanted to stand up, turn around and start moving my arms up and down to encourage everybody to get up off their asses and start getting into it. Before the final song of the first set, which for the life of me I can't remember what it was right now as I'm typing this, Mullen came to the edge of the stage and stated that he wanted everybody to stand up. He recognized the fact that people were thinking in a theater state of mind and said that this wasn't a theater show...that it was a rock and roll show...and he wanted people on their feet. That's when everyone responded and finally got up. They did the song and it was time for the intermission.

My daughter and I went out and bought a couple of tour t-shirts, which is when we found out that Mullen would be doing autographs after the show...a nice, classy touch. So my daughter and I met him afterwards and had our shirts signed. He was quite chatty with her about her name, which is Mackenzie and, he being a Scot, had quite a bit to say about it. Very nice, likable guy.

The second half of the show rocked with people finally letting loose and it started to feel more like what a rock concert should feel like.

The band itself is amazing. And the show is incredible. Unlike your typical tribute bands, not every member tries to look like their original counterpart. The only one that does is Mullen, who dons a fake mustache during the performance to look more like Mercury. His stage antics mimic Mercury perfectly, but the biggest surprise to me is his voice. I always thought Mercury was so unique that nobody would be able to duplicate his voice. But Mullen pulls it off. He sounds exactly like him. And if you close your eyes you can imagine that you're really at a Queen concert.

This tour is their first tour in the United States and the show I attended marked approximately the halfway point of the tour. If you can catch it, you by all means should. At the end of this is a link to the official website where you can see the tour dates (it ends at the end of April).

The only disappointment I can really express is that they decided to take one of my favorite Queen songs of all-time, "Radio Ga Ga" out of the show. Mullen explains why in his blog: 7th March : Rialto Square Theatre , Joliet:

This was one of the most stunning theatres that I have ever seen.
The inside was very Romanesque, marble and statues everywhere, wouldn’t have looked out of place next to the Coliseum. This was a busy show, and the people of Joliet were ready to go from the beginning.
All the songs went down well, except for “Radio Ga Ga ”, turns out it isn’t as well known over here. Have to remove it from the set.
Highlight of the show so far seems to be “Fat Bottomed Girls “.

If you do a YouTube search for "One Night Of Queen", you'll find some videos from performances. But none will match the feeling of seeing this show live and in person.

Visit the One Night Of Queen website

Some pictures from the show: