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The Queen Extravaganza, Liverpool O2 Academy Review - Jim Jenkins

Long time band friend and Queen biographer, Jim Jenkins, saw the Queen Extravaganza visit his home town of Liverpool last week, we could not resist sending him down to see them and see what he thought...

The Queen Extravaganza, O2 Academy Liverpool, October 30th by Jim Jenkins

Liverpool welcomed a new band at the O2 Academy but the music they performed has been heard for over 40 years. The enthusiastic crowd lapped up the show and provided backing vocals for The Queen Extravaganza!

Roger Taylor searched and found extremely talented musicians three years ago to form this new tribute band to perform Queen music the way the band themselves felt the music should be performed to an audience. It has paid off as they have toured America and Canada and now the band visit the UK shores! I am sure they are winning over audiences as they gain popularity on the circuit as some of the sold out shows are proving!

The stage was adorned with a curtain which had the famous Queen Crest Freddie designed when the band found the permanent members of the group and when the curtain was lifted the same crest was found on the bass drum. A segment of The Prophets Song was heard before the band hit the stage to a terrific welcome roar as they launched into the fast version of Queens signature tune of the 21st century, We Will Rock You. Vocals were taken by the bands drummer Tyler Warren. This guy has a vocal range that surprised me and which he continually proved throughout the show. This shone through when they performed I’m In Love With My Car. The band boasts two lead vocalists and the first to prove the show goes on is Marc Martel. At times Marc sounded like a certain Mr Mercury, especially with his phrasing of certain words. Close your eyes and the element of surprise takes over! When he walked off the stage the image of Freddie was there.

Brian Gresh the lead guitarist playing a Red Special made the noises you expect to hear at a Queen show. An impressive player and he shone on Killer Queen. Compliments to Francois-Olivier Doyon who played bass at times similar to John Deacon. Holding it all together was the keyboard player and musical director Brandon Elthridge.

The second vocalist by the name of Jennifer Espinoza held the spotlight on a number of songs but the stand out song was the non single Dragon Attack. A real rock-chick!

The set list comprised of 23 songs from Queens back catalogue throughout their career. What surprised me was the order in which they were performed. It was unexpected and made a pleasant change. 

Seven screens placed at the back of the stage projected some live images of Queen and clips from their many videos. This came to full use during Bohemian Rhapsody.

There was a typical rock drum solo which started with the intro of Innuendo which sent a few people in the audience ga ga! After that a frantic heavy rock n roll version of Stone Cold Crazy was performed with strobe light effect. Immediately after came the bass driven Another One Bites The Dust. You couldn’t have had a more contrasting song! The crowd joined in the fun for the “day-o” section. Marc showed what a superb range he has in his voice during this!

The harmonies when all the performers sang together was powerful. A very talented bunch of musicians they all are.

A welcomed quiet part of the show was extremely pleasurable was when the song played from A Night At The Opera album and not the stripped down acoustic arrangement Queen fans are used to at a live performance, Love Of My Life.  Marc showed his versatility as he played keyboards for the first time of the evening. The crowd sang beautifully in harmony.  A highlight of the show for sure! They also knew how to play their part in Radio Ga Ga when the hands were high in the air for the traditional clapping! Quite a sight to see too!

The audience sang throughout the show and made some noise. They proved their worth during Don’t Stop Me Now but it was like being on the Kop when Somebody To Love was aired, the final song of the set. The crowd sang all the right parts, in the right key. Freddie would have loved it! The change of pace at the end of the song worked extremely well in the live situation. It rocked! 

The crowd roared for an encore and after a loud Tie Your Mother Down where it felt the audience were singing louder than the vocalists on stage, came the obligatory two song ending to the show. Queen knew how to include the audience and during We Will Rock You the audience are as important as the guys on stage! 

Liverpool audiences have always been known to embrace Queen from their first performance in 1970 at the Liverpool Cavern and 43 years on the tradition continues albeit in a different format!

There was a meet and greet after the show and the huge queue of people waiting to meet the band was proof of how the band went down in Liverpool. 

The Queen Extravaganza proved they were the champions by the end of the night! They will continue to help Queens’s music be heard in the live arena. Long may they reign.

JJ
 
(Photo: Stephanie Turcotte)

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