If you abandon any hope that you’re going to get the rich depth and timbre of a Mercury, and accept that it’s just a fun night out with some lads jamming under excellent lighting, you’ll be fine. Review of a Tribute to Queen, by LESLEY STONES.
Am I alone in thinking that a tribute show to Queen ought to have a singer who sounds like Freddie Mercury? The whole point of recreating a concert filled with Queen’s classic songs has to be that this is as good as you will ever get, given that the man is dead. So, when lead singer Giles Taylor opens his mouth and sounds distinctly mediocre, It’s a Kinda Magic becomes It’s a Kinda Let Down.
Promoters, Showtime Australia, have brought back the show that last ran in Joburg in 2009, with Taylor as the new front man who joined the line up in 2014. With a whole world of Freddy Mercury impersonators to choose from, it is sad to think that this was the best of the bunch. Taylor, to his credit, is a talented performer in his own right, is masterful on the piano, plays the guitar, has the moves and certainly has a fine body, but he lacks the charisma of Mercury as well as the vocal capacity. He’s quite likeable though, proving he can sing in some “De—ohhh” interactions in the audiences and making a few quips along the way.
The event is a typical Showtime production, with artists playing the music of deceased musicians to recreate one of their concerts without any storyline. I’ve always thought that’s a pretty lame premise for a show, but I tried to set preconceived notions aside and enjoy Queen’s catalogue of incredible music anyway. Then my companion whispered: “I do a better Britney Spears impression, and I’m Indian…”
Taylor tries to get the audience clapping along and standing right from the start, way before the show has earned our support. Some did, some didn’t, and a few people went nuts with delirium, pounding out every beat on their knees and mouthing all the words. If you abandon any hope that you’re going to get the rich depth and timbre of a Mercury, and accept that it’s just a fun night out with some lads jamming under excellent lighting, you’ll be fine.
Kyle Thompson as Roger Taylor bashes away like a talented Muppet on the drums, giving an excellent solo that earns genuine enthusiastic applause. Australian Richie Baker rarely comes out from behind his hair as guitarist Brian May, while South African Steven Dennett plays John Deacon on bass. You can tell he’s a local lad, because he’s wearing shorts.
I enjoyed the second half more, resigned to forgetting about standards and just enjoying the jol. Overall the presentation is great, the music is note perfect, and a big screen at the back of the stage is great for close ups. The dazzling lights, authentic looking costumes, and a broad sweep of material that makes sure the pace varies and never lags is also impressive.
It features all the classics including We Will Rock You, Bohemian Rhapsody, Fat Bottom Girls, We Are the Champions, and Don’t Stop Me Now. At one point the stage rises up to reveal the living room for “I Want to Break Free”, with Taylor strutting around in the short skirt, ludicrously big boobs and a feather duster to recreate the original video for the song. It’s funny, its fun, but don’t try to tell me it’s a patch on Freddie.
I’m dreading the David Bowie tribute show. But since Bowie songs were playing as we took your seats for the Queen show, Showtime Australia is already sniffing big bucks from the death of another legend. DM
Queen It’s A Kinda Magic runs at Joburg Theatre until February 7.
Tickets trom Webtickets or www.joburgtheatre.com