They want it all, they’re under pressure and they know how to play the tribute game.
Led by lead singer Giles Taylor in a near perfect Freddie Mercury role, the Australian quartet It’s a Kind of Magic rocked their way through an evening of Queen covers Tuesday night at the Thunder Bay Auditorium, taking the crowd of 800 or so on a magical musical trip back through time.
Even Mercury, the flamboyant front-man who died in 1991, might have been impressed, and maybe even a little flattered.
It’s easy to forget just how many hits the original Queen had over their 18-year reign at the top of the global pop charts.
It’s a Kind of Magic, Radio Ga Ga, Another One Bites the Dust, Killer Queen, Fat Bottomed Girls, Bicycle Race and Crazy Little Thing Called Love, they played ‘em all.
And Taylor had a costume change for just about every one, starting out with a flashy yellow jacket before stripping down to his under shirt and eventually going bare-chested as he sat down to the piano for the first of many times.
“That’s all I’m going to take off – for now,” he teased the audience, a few of whom managed to stay on their feet the entire two-hour performance.
By night’s end he’d dressed in drag for the timely I Want to Break Free, mimicking the 1984 video which saw the entire band dress in women’s clothing, and dashed into the crowd, where he sat on a lap or two, a rubbing a pink feather boa completing the outfit.
And it wouldn’t be a proper Queen impersonation if there wasn’t a little black leather thrown into the mix.
If Taylor has Mecury down pat, the rest of the cast have all but perfected their roles too, starting with Richie Baker as Brian May on lead guitar. Steven Dennett plays as bassist John Deacon, while Kyle Thompson shows his chops as drummer Roger Taylor.
The foursome, who dipped into Queen’s catalogue to find a few hidden gems, finished with a flurry, the crowd rising to its feet – with Taylor’s encouragement, of course – during a stretched out version of Somebody to Love, staying there for We are the Champions.
The band closed with two of Queen’s biggest hits, each its own encore, starting with the crowd-stomping favourite We Will Rock You.
There was no doubt what the finale would be. Bohemian Rhapsody, the 1975 song made famous by Wayne and Garth and covered by the Muppets, had the crowd singing along from start to finish, saving their best “scaramouche, scaramouche, will you do the fandango,” for last.