Perhaps Freddie Mercury put it best – “there can be only one”. Or can there? As aging rockers / stadium legends Queen tour through Australia with glam pop star Adam Lambert fronting in place of the unmatchable Mercury, spare a thought for It’s a Kinda Magic – a show that replicates the Queen experience and is also heading Down Under shortly.
While the real Queen – well, guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, alongside Lambert – fill big arenas, It’s a Kinda Magic will do a more grassroots tour, hitting up the Penrith Panthers, Tweed Heads, Bunbury and heading to Canberra on September 14.
However, this show has blessing of Freddie Mercury’s longtime personal assistant Peter Freestone, who spent more than a decade running Mercury’s life.
As for the original Queen? “Most of the time [they’re] getting great reviews which is wonderful. I love that, I love the whole thing that they’re out, they’re doing what they do best.”
Mr Freestone isn’t quite sold on Adam Lambert – the flamboyant former American Idol contestant taking Freddie’s place.
“I think he’s doing a good job because just from reading social media, the people who are going to the show are very happy. He must be doing something right,” he said.
“Perhaps for me I’m not overkeen on his type of voice, he sings very, very well but that sort of voice has never appealed to me. But good on him, if he’s getting Bryan and Roger out on the stage then I’m all for it.”
In It’s a Kinda Magic, Mercury’s role is played by Giles Taylor, a man whom Mr Freestone regards highly
“[He] gives the audience to see what the shows were like with Freddie. For people of my generation who actually did see Queen, if they come away actually thinking, ‘I remember when Freddie did that’ and ‘Ah yes, that reminded me..’ And for the new generation, the people who never got the chance to see Freddie performing it gives them the chance to see what we oldies keep going on about.”
Mr Freestone spent years with Mercury, often regarded as the greatest frontman in rock history, and says there were two distinct Freddies.
“There was the Freddie that the world knew, the immaculate performer, the person who could control the world. And the person who was very quiet, very shy and he couldn’t walk into a room with strangers on his own,” he said.
Mr Freestone said he organised Mercury’s life, answering phonecalls, scheduling events and meetings, and keeping up with the rock star’s business and personal affairs.
He also cooked for him – Mercury apparently loved home cooking, “things like cottage pie, steak and kidney pie, beef wellington”.
In a twist worthy of MasterChef, Mr Freestone occasionally had to try and recreate a dish from scratch as Mercury described favourite meals that his mother had cooked.
After Mercury’s death of AIDS in 1991, Mr Freestone “sort of ran away for a couple of years” to cope with the grief but returned and has now devoted his life to the memory of his former employer.
“Even now I get a strange feeling when people want to shake my hand because I’ve touched Freddie Mercury – I have washed since then,” he says.
The show must go on.