Freddie Mercury’s shoes are difficult – if not impossible – to fill, and his highs are almost unreachable. However, the multitalented, charismatic Giles Taylor made an excellent tribute in skin-tight leather and an iconic Mercury ‘stache. His presence ricocheted off the walls of the theatre, transforming it into a seventies rock stage.
The audience alone was a highlight that enhanced the atmosphere of the whole performance: gazing back across the crowd I saw countless devoted fans, from fresh-face youngsters to those on the far side of sixty lost in their own Queen-soundtracked world, singing blissfully along.
The attention to authentic detail was impressive. Taylor sang on a duplicate of Freddie’s microphone (only the upper part of the stand with no base) in accurately replicated costumes. The light cues and instrumental interludes were taken from original shows and guitarist Richie Baker played a replica of Brian May’s original Red Special guitar. Guitar solos, gyrating and glamour: the cast of Queen – It’s a Kinda Magic nailed it in their efforts to pay homage to Queen.
The overall lighting and technical aspect of the show is also something to be admired in its own respect. Although my aching photosensitive eyes were thankful for the twenty-minute interval, the composition of lights and music was truly excellent, its grandeur bearing worthy of Queen. There were a few technical difficulties, but they were quickly sorted out and could be disregarded as mere opening-night bad luck.
The audience fed off the powerful, iconic ballads ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Somebody to Love’, ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ and, of course, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. My personal favourites, however, were ‘Under Pressure’, ‘Bicycle’ and ‘Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy’, which were all performed with skill and passion. Although Giles’ three-and-a-half octave vocal range could never match Mercury’s almost five-octave range, it still sets him apart from other tribute artists.
The entire cast exuded musical excellence. As Brian May, the fast-fingered Baker treated the audience to mesmerising guitar solos (these also stalled for time while some exuberant costume changes were made). Steven Dennett as John Deacon seemed to have neverending energy and passion, while Kyle Thompson showcased his otherworldly talents as Roger Taylor, his bleach-blonde hair flipping to the beat of his drums, he and his instrument becoming a singular entity.
With signature Freddie stances and completely over-the-top costumes, the performance is dramatic and powerful, capturing the essence of Queen at its finest. The show is for die-hard fans, but also those who simply want to revel in great music.