27th Annual International Queen Fan Club Convention
Official International Queen Fan Club – 27th Annual Weekend Convention 27th – 30th April 2012 – Great Yarmouth, U.K.
by Jim Jenkins
Vauxhall Holiday Park in Great Yarmouth on England’s east coast welcomed Queen fans for the annual seaside rendezvous and a weekend packed full of everything QUEEN. What could be better!
The event started after checking-in, at the on-site bar called the V Lounge which becomes the Q Lounge for this weekend! The atmosphere is electric as friends greet one another.
Most of the main attractions take place in the Regency Room. To kick-start proceedings fans joined in WAYNE PLANTS karaoke session which is always fun. NEIL CAMERON from Arena, the organisers of the event, read the usual health and safety rules and then he brought onto the stage the head of the Queen Fan Club JACKY SMITH who welcomed everybody to the convention. A video message was played from Dr. BRIAN MAY which went down a treat! (Thank you Brian for taking time out to record the message, all the attendees appreciated it very much).
Live music has become an integral part of the convention. This year was no exception with SIX live acts and they certainly entertained us. The first to the stage was headed by Queen Fan Club member GAVIN FELVUS who brought along his successful cover band GUNS 2 ROSES. This powerhouse band is successful all over Europe and is one of the most sought after tribute acts. They included Queen songs in their set and also THE CROSS. A surprise guest appearance by The Cross’ own CLAYTON MOSS went down a storm! Full Circles and Queen Fan Club Member MARTIN WACKINIER joined the band on backing vocals along with another tribute act Baby Ga Ga. One more guest BEN DOVER played the drums! All happens at the Queen conventions!! The crows showed their appreciation.
Saturday saw no less than 3 live acts. During the afternoon STILLYANO made a welcome return to the convention but before they did their own set which included their superb rendition of I’m Going Slightly Mad, they helped out with the JAM SESSION. Cheers Stilly for coming along and thanks for a great set. The evenings live music saw another welcome return to the convention. EDDIE HOWELL was interviewed last year and enjoyed himself so much he returned with acoustic guitar and mouth organ to play an unplugged set which included MAN FROM MANHATTAN, with the crowd providing the backing vocals. Thanks Eddie, that was enjoyable.
A thunderous applause greeted BELLADONIC HAZE. Members of the band, NEIL JENKINS (vocals), BEN SAUNDERS (guitar), MARC HUDSON (bass) and DEAN EVANS (drums) are all members of the Queen Fan Club and formed at the convention. They returned to their spiritual home and gave a stomping show playing Queen, The Cross, Roger Taylor, Brian May and even Freddie Mercury solo songs! Joining them on stage for a special guest appearance was none other than NEIL MURRAY. The crowd elevated even more! Thanks to the guys for one hell of a show and special thanks to Neil for appearing with them.
Two more acts for Sunday, both actually from Holland. First-up was recording artist ROBBY VALENTINE. This multi-talented musician blew the audience away with his renditions of Queen songs. He delicately played keyboards for songs such as Nevermore and Lily Of The Valley and also rocked out with guitar for songs such as Ogre Battle and Brighton Rock. - A majestic performance for sure. An impromptu encore started with his own hit composition Over And Over Again and some members of the audience joined in the chorus and he ended with Love Of My Life. Absolutely perfect. Robby explained he took a career in music because of Freddie and Queen and said it was an honour to perform at the convention. His new Queen Tribute album was made available which he happily autographed after the show. The final live act that made a welcome return was the popular Dutch band THE MIRACLE. They also performed lesser-known Queen songs, which thrilled the conventioneers. We hope they enjoyed their show as much as the audience who rocked and rolled! Thank you to all the bands who play to a tough audience but who are appreciative.
A major highlight of the conventions is the interview panel, which have evolved over the years. First up was Art of Noise founder and a renowned Producer/Engineer GARY LANGHAN, who actually worked with Queen on 3 albums but met them first when they were recording the successful A Night At The Opera. Gary talked about his first meeting with the band and explained how they worked in the studio. A fascinating story emerged as he told about Freddie recording Death On Two Legs and how his ears bled. Gary was one of the first to hear the completed Bo Rhap!
Audience With Peter Freestone was informative and sincere. The affection Peter has for his former employer is clearly visible. Peter was welcomed back with a rowdy applause. He explained how he met Freddie and was offered his first job which resulted in a 12 year job leading to a close friendship. Peter kindly brought along some photographs taken at Garden Lodge and showed some of Freddie’s antiques and paintings. The audience listened intensely to every word. Peter is always received so warmly by the fans.
Another returning to the convention was TV Producer SIMON LUPTON who gave us an insight into how he made the Days Of Our Lives TV programme. He talked about how the process of working on DVD releases such as Super Live In Japan and what it entails to put the project together. Simon kindly talked about future plans with Queen releases. Simon used to attend the conventions as a fan a few years back so he has a good idea of what is wanted.
One of the best interviews we have ever had at a convention was the final guest of the weekend. NEIL MURRAY who is one of the musicians who plays at the We Will Rock You-The Musical in London’s Dominion Theatre and who has toured and recorded with Brian May and also played with QPR. Neil talked through his career and the various bands he has played with such as Whitesnake and his appearance in Seville which lead to a long partnership. There were truly some great stories to be told and listened to - one of the highlights of this year’s convention.
A BIG thanks to all the guests for coming along and sharing their memories. This year we had people who came from Queens past, present and even their future! We are so very lucky that they join us. There were some excellent questions from the floor too.
All the interviews were conducted by JIM JENKINS who celebrated his birthday at the convention. A surprise presentation was made to him from Jacky who thanked him for all his work for the convention and help he gives her to the Fan Club throughout the years. A specially made framed Platinum Hits Collection was given to him. She described him as “her rock”! Arenas CHERYL DUKE then presented Jim with a birthday cake which had a picture on top of him taken with Freddie and a bouquet of yellow roses. The crowd then sang “Happy Birthday”.
Jacky went along recently to see ex head of Queens road crew PETER ‘RATTY’ HINCE who kindly allowed her to film an interview and this was shown a couple of times over the weekend. Cheers Ratty.
The AUCTION raised money for charity and some bids were exciting as fans made bids for the many items up for grabs. The RAFFLE also raised more money. The excitement when ticket numbers were read out was highly amusing!
The MARKET PLACE is where you can find items to top up your collection. It’s fun to search for that wanted item. The FAN CLUB STALL had loads of goodies including the new up-dated Fan Club Biography and Discography made available exclusively for the first time at this years convention. The ARTS AND CRAFTS display gave fans a hard choice to choose the winner! The BEST DRESSED CARAVAN WINDOWS winner was superb who made most of the window space!
There were 2 FANCY DRESS themes at Vauxhall. First was THE HIGH SCHOOL HOP. Think ‘Grease’ and you can imagine how people looked who took part in the 50’s themed evening. There was a prize for the winner and also for the younger entrees too. RED WHITE AND BLUE the following evening saw the room decorated in bunting and many tables decorated with tablecloths and balloons in the theme of H.M. The Queens Diamond Jubilee. Some fans even have had their own indoor “street party”! This created a unique atmosphere and lots of fun!
Three discos ended each evening. Fridays ‘Party Time’ Disco had the dance floor jam packed for the duration! Karels ‘Video Disco’ was perfect for Saturday night and the last evening we had a ‘Fans Choice’ Disco as the attendees choose the music to be played which included songs we have never played before at a disco! The Breakthru conga train remains a sight to behold and looks as great today as it did the first time it was done many years ago in Southport!!
Over the weekend we see many live concerts including many which have never been released and this year we asked fans to choose the concert they wanted to see on the big screen! The winner was Live In Houston – a concert from 1977. We showed for the first time a concert by Queen from Tokyo in 1979.
Queen Unseen was a collection of live clips of Queen brought along by Queens Archivists GREG BROOKS and GARY TAYLOR. This was so popular they were given 3 slots over the weekend so many could watch as possible. Greg answered questions and explained what he was currently working on. Thank you both for compiling and bringing along. A must see at the conventions!
We also held snooker and darts competitions for fans who like those sports.
The convention really is a unique event and next years is already in the planning stages! No.28 will once again be held in Great Yarmouth at Vauxhall between 19th-22nd April 2013. There is something special when fans come together in the name of Queen and celebrate the legend that this band really are. Hope to see you all next year when we manage to do this all over again with more guests, live music, exclusive unreleased live concerts, and all the promo videos including the unreleased ones too! With a party atmosphere to end all parties…come join us!