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Tuesday 9 September 2014

A view From The Back Of The Room: The Queen Extravaganza

The Queen Extravaganza, St David's Hall

The Queen Extravaganza are a Queen tribute band formed by Queen drummer Roger Taylor, with each member hand picked by him to be a part of a touring project to keep the music of one of Britain's beloved rock band. I have always been a big fan of Queen purely because I like bands with a bit of theatrical flair and a certain fearlessness to their music. The band are primarily made up of American's and Canadians, they have toured all over the world with every show a sell out, so I was keen to see what their debut night in Cardiff was going to be like.

Doors opened at 7:30 and as I ascended the stairs to my seat, I could feel the excitement increasing inside the auditorium. I also noticed that I was perhaps the youngest person there still as the place filled the music started building and building and building until nothing. No we had to wait for another hour until the show started prompting a lot of tutting and passive aggressive clapping to try and bring the band on.

Still at just before 8:30 the show started, the curtain dropped and the opening riff to Tie Your Mother Down started things off in rocking style, I had done some research on the band and on the American tours they had a large membership, tonight they were a five piece; Drummer Tyler Warren, Bassist Francois Olivier-Doyon, Brit guitarist Nick Radcliffe (from Brighton), keyboardist/muscial director Brandon Ethridge and singer Marc Martel, which to me was perfect as Queen were never more than this themselves. As Tie Your Mother Down ended a medley of Queen hits were played including Don't Stop Me Now, Hammer To Fall, Save MeSeven Seas Of Rye, Dragon Attack before climaxing in Love Of My Life. What strikes you is just how tight this band are they don not miss a note! The second thing is vocalist Marc Martel is vocally a dead ringer for Freddie Mercury I mean he sounds exactly the same, he even has the mannerisms down to a tee, he makes this band. After the medley things were handed over to drummer Tyler Warren who gave a hell of a performance on Dragon Attack sounding exactly like Roger Taylor while smashing the drums, Martel came back guitar in hand and hips started swinging to Crazy Little Thing Called Love. After breaking to catch the collective breath they came back with three from A Night At The Opera with LAzing On A Sunday Afternoon in all of its Wagnerian glory before Warren took over again for I'm In Love With My Car climaxing in the song everyone knows the immortal  Bohemian Rhapsody, the harmonising was amazing with all the band providing live harmonies, before a backing screen played the Scarmoosh middle section and the band rushed on for the Wayne's World head banging.

A huge ovation followed and Oliver-Doyon played that unmistakeable bass riff from Under Pressure which featured more singing along from the now fully enthralled, the Bowie parts were handled by Ethridge who gave a spot on impersonation of the thin white duke, A Kind Of Magic came next continuing the funk and I Want I All blasted all that a way with a dose of metal. You're My Best Friend brought another sing along and after an hour in the pace and the joy was unrelenting, another break before a drum solo into Stone Cold Crazy. The claps of Radio Ga Ga came next still haviong the same synth power it did all those years ago, then the ode to the larger woman with Fat Bottom Girls and the set ender Somebody To Love (cue another mass singalong) which was a majestic end to a phenomenal set! As the standing ovation rippled through the audience all signs pointed to an encore, two songs were a given, one wasn't, questions were answered quickly with The Show Must Go On being a fitting tribute to the majesty of Freddie, Brian, Roger and John. The finale was of course the one-two punch of the percussive chant of We Will Rock You led the crowd again and the things were totally finished with the self aggrandising We Are The Champions. It's hard to disagree with the lyrics of the song, this band are truly fantastic, they are a better version of Queen than the current version of Queen with May and Taylor. I encourage everyone to see this act in the flesh, they are simply awe inspiring with how good they are and with a rich back catalogue of songs to choose from and bigger venues/performance opportunities they can only get better and better with every tour. Never have I seen a band so perfect in both ability and delivery expect them to erupt into arenas soon. there are not enough adjectives to describe them. Love Live The Queen (Extravaganza)!!! 11/10 (I'm allowed)

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