Reviewer: Jade Kops
The music that helped define British Rock is recreated with passionate attention to detail in QUEEN: IT’S A KINDA MAGIC to the delight of fans, old and new. Director Johnny Van Grinsven has bought together four talented musicians to transport the audience back to QUEEN’s 1986 World Tour, complete with white spandex and masses of curls.
For the Sydney engagement the historic Art Deco State Theatre is decked out with a plethora of speakers. A screen forms a backdrop to the stage which includes a electric keyboard, disguised as a white baby grand, a more traditional keyboard and a wall of speakers on which the drum kit hits at the top of a centre set of stairs.
Van Grinsven has drawn on Freddie Mercury‘s “best friend, biographer, assistant and constant companion” Peter Freestone’s knowledge of both Mercury and the band to deliver an intricate performance, fabulously led by Giles Taylor filling of Freddie’s signature pants. The Brit is joined by Australia’s Richie Baker as guitarist Brian May, complete with mop of curls and Kyle Thompson as drummer Roger Taylor along with South African Steven Dennett as bass guitarist John Deacon.
The band covered all the favourites from title piece, It’s a Kinda Magic, to Killer Queen,and Bicycle Race, complete with a projection of that famous video from Wimbledon Stadium. The band work through two hours of music plus encores of some of QUEEN’s more obscure works to the delight of die hard fans.
Taylor is wonderful in his commitment to the role, both vocally and physically and thankfully a camera projects his expressions whilst at the ‘baby grand’. Baker delivers some phenomenal guitar work with a breath taking solo set. Dennett, with less vocals tying him to his microphone moves around the stage to interact with the rest of the band, adding a playfulness and making it clear that they are having fun and have a rapport. Thompson is brilliant on the drums with intense solos which also hint to a touch of mischievousness in the young musician.
The set up in a traditional theatre plus the demographic of the audience did however result in a somewhat difficult crowd to play to despite Taylor’s encouragement of audience involvement. Whilst those in the balcony were restricted from standing due to occupational health and safety concerns, it was a struggle to get the audience in the stalls to their feet, and to have them remain there, greatly altering the vibe of the night.
QUEEN: IT’S A KINDA MAGIC is for die hard QUEEN fans, old rockers, new rockers, and generally anyone who loves music. With a vast range of music that spans from heavy rock to ballads, from political to poignant, unless you’ve been living under a rock your whole life, you’ll recognise the music as it has become timeless as classic British Rock.