They will, they will rock you ; A tribute performance so good, it might even have upstaged the original. So says Queen's Roger Taylor of the band he and Brian May have personally auditioned to bring the music of the rock legends back to life on stage. 'I feel like their excited uncle,' Roger tells Gemma Peplowmusic
On Saturday night, we're gonna have ourselves a real good time - so don't stop us, don't stop us, ooh ooh ooh... Ahem. Sorry, but we're going slightly Queen mad this week, as the Queen Extravaganza - the band's official tribute show - is coming to town. We never got the real thing here in Leicester, despite the fact bassist John Deacon grew up here, so this is a must for all true fans of the band.
The musicians for the show were handpicked by Queen drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist Brian May from thousands of hopefuls during an online talent search.
They're so good, reckons Roger, who is on the phone to The Week to promote the show, he would have felt nervous taking to the stage after them.
Extraordinary, isn't it? he says of frontman Marc Martel. I couldn't believe it when I first heard him sing. If you close your eyes and you're in the same room it's like Freddie is there singing. It's uncanny.
Marc is a great performer and I have to say, they're a great band, but I would say that, wouldn't I, because I'm responsible for putting them together.
But they really are. NEXT BEST THING I don't think Queen ever played in Leicester, even though it was home for John. But, you know, you've definitely got the next best thing, I tell you.
The Queen Extravaganza has toured America and Canada, but these are the first shows in the UK.
We had the auditions in America and Canada and the response was amazing, says Roger. We've done several tours in America and Canada and I can't wait to take them to play in the UK.
I feel like their excited uncle. I'm very proud of them. I think people will be blown away.
Not least by Marc, who has to be seen to be believed, says Roger. He really is that good. It's not just that he sounds like Freddie, he's got the whole thing, he's great, he says. He's a tremendous frontman. The audience are usually quite shocked at first, I think, at the quality of it. It's not someone pretending to be Freddie but someone who can really sing like Freddie but who has his own personality.
And it's not just Marc, they're a really talented bunch.They really do justice to our music. I wouldn't want to follow them, I tell you.
Roger decided to put the show together after seeing other Queen tribute bands.
I was down in Cornwall, where I grew up and saw two different posters for bands purporting to be Queen, he says. They were tribute bands, dressed up in the clothes to look like we used to. I've seen a few and some are good, some aren't. I decided it would be good if there was one band we could put together, because we know our music better than anyone else.
I wanted a band to represent us musically - it's not just something about wigs or moustaches. So that's what we've done, and these guys are frightening - really, really good.
Despite this, Roger says he never feels the urge to get up and perform with the band. He sees about half of the live shows, taking notes to make possible tweaks here and there.
Brian and I have just come back from Las Vegas. We did a short live show there with (American Idol runner-up) Adam Lambert, and that was great, says Roger. You get that satisfaction from playing from doing things like that. I look on Queen Extravaganza as a different thing. They're representing us in a different way. RARE FOOTAGE The 90-minute show takes fans through the classic hits, as well as lesser-known numbers. The production is enhanced with rare video footage from the extensive Queen archives, as well as new imagery.
I was there through the whole process and rehearsals when we put the show together, says Roger. We try and cover not just the pure hits but get into the catalogue a bit and do the songs the really hardcore fans will like. Songs that maybe we didn't even do on stage. They've got a tremendous vocal ability, this band. They can do it all.
It's enjoyable, he says, to see Queen's songs brought to life again on stage.
I like some of the songs people didn't know so well - I like In the Lap of the Gods. But then I like Under Pressure and Somebody to Love... and Bohemian Rhapsody is a great record. Crazy Little Thing Called Love, too. They're all like old friends of mine.
info ROGER TAYLOR has a solo album, Fun On Earth, out on November 11.
THE QUEEN EXTRAVAGANZA is on at Leicester O2 Academy on Saturday.
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