Do you remember how great Queen were?
All those thrilling songs and anthems that dominated the charts when we were all much younger.
If you need a reminder, pick up the phone now and book for one of the final shows of Queen – It’s A Kinda Magic at the Joburg Theatre.
I’ve always had mixed feelings about tribute music shows where singers and bands pretend to be somebody else. But they’re hugely popular, whether it’s for Abba, the Beatles, the Bee Gees, or Credence Clearwater Revival – whoever the heck they were.
Replicating Queen is tricky because Freddie Mercury was such an icon with a hugely distinctive voice. The Australian guys behind this show do it really well, and the music is absolutely flawless.
The voice of the substitute Freddie (Craig Pesco) isn’t always perfect, but he’s certainly a great stand-in. He looks the part too, giving us the Mercury persona when it was all tight white trousers, big sideburns and a walrus moustache. Pesco is lithe but muscle-bound, energetic and fittingly flamboyant and the band behind him look and sound the part completely.
But I always wonder why musicians who are talented in their own right are content pretending to be someone else and only playing material made famous by another?
Well, probably because they wouldn’t be able to sell out theatres for weeks on end around the world if they weren’t pretending to be Queen.
Yet there was obviously something missing – the real spark of excitement that a concert should generate. Not enough use was made of the video screens behind them, either, which would have added to the entertainment. And what kind of rock concert has a 20 minute interval anyway? I’m glad they took a break, though, because the band came back more energised and the second half was far livelier.
There were several lesser known Queen songs as this is a reworking of their first show and they wanted to ring the changes. But people go to tribute shows to hear the old favourites, not to be enlightened. So although it was good to hear some fresh material, the greatest audience enthusiasm came for the real classics.
Gosh, we are demanding. We want to be thrilled by the music, the voice, the drama and the flamboyance, and we want it to be the genuine article too.
It’s obviously not and it never will be, but it’s as good as you’re going to get. It all ends with Bohemian Rhapsody, of course, where the voice held up well and everyone left smiling.
Queen It’s A Kinda Magic runs at Joburg Theatre until Sunday, 25th October. For bookings follow the links alongside.