Live Review: The Queen Extravaganza at Newcastle Academy – 3rd November 2013

By on Wednesday, 6th November 2013 at 2:00 pm
 

Before we go any further, let’s get one thing straight: tonight, Marc Martel *was* Freddie Mercury. He moved like him, sang like him; even, to my eyes, *looked* like him. And that simple point is what elevates The Queen Extravaganza way above a run-of-the-mill covers outfit – the band are superb, note-perfect, but Martel is a spellbinding performer, perfectly at ease with the enormous task he has been given, and through subtle body language cues and a world-class voice, astonishingly evocative of Mercury himself. The second coming of Freddie is secretly what all Queen fans pine for, and the Queen Extravaganza is surely as close as anyone could hope to just that.

The band come with the blessing of Brian May and particularly Roger Taylor, who masterminded putting the band together; a risky business, when one thinks about it – the extensive Queen back catalogue is deeply revered by millions of fans worldwide, and the disaster of a subpar band ruining it doesn’t bear thinking about. But Taylor has performed his due diligence well, and picked a great band, often musicians from relative obscurity. Take guitarist Brian Gresh, who was working as a mechanical engineer before being picked – he’s capable of reproducing May’s virtuoso guitar lines note-for-note; thankfully the Extravaganza has come along to give him an outlet for his talents. Sadly, tonight he didn’t perform one of his famous spectacular backflips, but surely he will at some point on the tour.

The band strike a perfect note of humble reverence for the Queen material – every now and again Martel explains a bit about why the next song has been chosen, and what significance that particular piece has for the young performers, but mostly they let the music do the talking. Martel admits that Wayne’s World was his introduction to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, before launching into an extraordinary rendition of that very piece, ably assisted with the famous Queen “heads” on the video screens behind. Just to attempt that most famous and ambitious of Queen songs deserves respect, and when it becomes clear that not only is this an attempt but a version of such passion and skill worthy of the original band themselves… well, it’s enough to bring a tear to the eye.

No phase of Queen’s career is off-limits tonight. There’s the cod-vaudeville of ‘Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon’, a quick spin through the almost-thrash metal of ‘Stone Cold Crazy’ (kudos to drummer Tyler Warren for taking vocal duties on that one); ‘Love Of My Life’ is as beautiful and fragile as a Fabergé egg, and 80s synth-rock anthem ‘Radio Gaga’ gives everyone an excuse to practise their overhead handclaps. The final dénouement brings out the big guns – Queen could do pomp and circumstance like nobody else, a fact not lost on the Extravaganza. I’m sure the reader can imagine for themselves the sort of songs that might climax a Queen show, and they’re all present and correct tonight, in a crescendo of noise, power and emotion that few bands could emulate. For anyone who didn’t see Queen the first time round, or did see them and want to remind themselves how great they were – The Queen Extravaganza will not disappoint. They’ve got a kind of magic.

See Martin’s full set of photos from the night in all their high-res glory on his Flickr.

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14 Responses

10:30 am
7th November 2013

Live Review: The Queen Extravaganza at Newcastle Academy – 3rd November 2013 http://t.co/PtjncSBjHf via @tgtf

10:31 am
7th November 2013

Live Review: The Queen Extravaganza at Newcastle Academy – 3rd November 2013 http://t.co/PtjncSBjHf via @tgtf @dmorland99

10:40 am
7th November 2013

@martsharm @tgtf @queenextrava Wow. I got goosebumps all over again. What an incredible show! We want more!!

10:40 am
7th November 2013

RT @martsharm: Live Review: The Queen Extravaganza at Newcastle Academy – 3rd November 2013 http://t.co/PtjncSBjHf via @tgtf @dmorland99

9:40 pm
7th November 2013

Just in case you STILL need convincing…Live Review: The Queen Extravaganza at Newcastle Academy – http://t.co/lhaQMVfyaN

9:42 pm
7th November 2013

RT @QueenExtrava: Just in case you STILL need convincing…Live Review: The Queen Extravaganza at Newcastle Academy – http://t.co/lhaQMVfyaN

9:48 pm
7th November 2013

RT @QueenExtrava: Just in case you STILL need convincing…Live Review: The Queen Extravaganza at Newcastle Academy – http://t.co/lhaQMVfyaN

9:52 pm
7th November 2013

RT @QueenExtrava: Just in case you STILL need convincing…Live Review: The Queen Extravaganza at Newcastle Academy – http://t.co/lhaQMVfyaN

10:09 pm
7th November 2013

RT @QueenExtrava: Just in case you STILL need convincing…Live Review: The Queen Extravaganza at Newcastle Academy – http://t.co/lhaQMVfyaN

10:19 pm
7th November 2013

RT @QueenExtrava: Just in case you STILL need convincing…Live Review: The Queen Extravaganza at Newcastle Academy – http://t.co/lhaQMVfyaN

11:22 pm
7th November 2013

RT @QueenExtrava: Just in case you STILL need convincing…Live Review: The Queen Extravaganza at Newcastle Academy – http://t.co/lhaQMVfyaN

5:51 am
8th November 2013

RT @QueenExtrava: Just in case you STILL need convincing…Live Review: The Queen Extravaganza at Newcastle Academy – http://t.co/lhaQMVfyaN

2:15 pm
8th November 2013

A great review for the #QueenExtravaganza show in Newcastle. http://t.co/BxMUxVyMQb

8:03 pm
9th November 2013

Live Review: The Queen Extravaganza at Newcastle Academy – 3rd November 2013

http://t.co/wXHgqGBtHn

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