When the now famed, Bohemian Rhapsody video clip first appeared on Countdown it heralded in a new era of music video clips. I can still recall our pre-teen bewilderment as we watched the singing heads multiply. We were used to just watching bands play their songs while staying intact and in the same visual field within our TV screens.
We were confronted with and confounded by a catchy song which unexpectedly contained operatic elements. Yet, we couldn’t deny that after Brian May brilliantly cut loose on his lead guitar, that odd song suddenly rocked right on and on. Opera was something which we associated with long dead or nearly dead, overdressed, snobby old people.
Whilst my peers couldn’t forgive any band that did any opera, I was in an unspeakable dilemma. My genteel mother was multi-instrumental and had studied French and Latin. My Irish father was learning Italian. I had a hidden repertoire of old fashioned songs and in private, secretive solitude, I actually listened to and loved classical music.
Covertly, I purchased both Queen albums when they were released: A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races. I was enthralled by something outstandingly different which I perceived as awesome but was too young and unskilled to analyse.
I didn’t know back then that I was going to grow up and become a reviewer or realise that I was honing crucial skills. Ironically, also, I didn’t know that the album titles were predictors of some of my future life events.
I first reviewed John Blunt and his Queen tribute band at Samford several years ago. Personally, I choose to avoid tribute bands and still, they remain the only one I’ve ever agreed to attend and review. I was keen to at least hear those Queen songs I still loved and the complex lyrics I’d learned in secret back then, living in the seventies.
At that mini concert in country Samford, lead man, Freddie Mercury was wonderfully portrayed by John Blunt. A van reversed against the stage was his dressing room. Every time he dashed into it, he majestically emerged in striking costumes looking and sounding just like Freddie.
I don’t recall the band members but it was glaringly clear to me that the abilities of this tribute artist were way too big for the small venue where they were performing that night. I accurately predicted that John Blunt would go on to much bigger things and deservedly so. I kept an eye on him online to see if I was proved correct.
Bookings for the band steadily rolled in. I noted filled up diaries of gigs and tours that went beyond Brisbane and Queensland and Australia. I even saw a cruise ship booking.
Next, I saw that John Blunt had been cast as Freddie Mercury in a documentary filmed in the UK. I wasn’t surprised but I was very impressed by that photo of the impending production being advertised on no less than a red, London double-decker bus. I really liked the documentary which I’d made a point of seeking out and viewing.
I attended the Killer Queen Experience performance on 13 November at the lovely Tivoli Theatre here in Brisbane. John Blunt and his band exceeded my expectations!
The band members were all brilliant and well able to hold and wow the crowd while ‘Freddie’ disappeared and then reappeared in different costumes.
It was a professional production. Screened film clip footage reminded us that whilst Freddie Mercury is gone from this life, his musical legacy remains. The footage reinforced the tragedy of Freddie’s death and reminded us that we were watching him being honoured not merely copied.
I would state that John Blunt accurately and incredibly, personifies Freddie Mercury. He does not impersonate Freddie Mercury in the context or arena of theatrical, entertainment. Adam Lambert, now Queen’s leading man does not impersonate or personify Freddie Mercury. He performs the songs in a style he alone now owns.
The rocking crowd clearly enjoyed the show. The release of the film, Bohemian Rhapsody has been timely and welcomed. All those wonderful and lyrically profound songs are currently relevant and being discovered and loved by new generations.
Sincere thanks to the band and their management for organising and setting aside that perfectly positioned, raised bar table and stools. Ballerina height, I would not have been able to see through or above the standing, leaping crowd waving their long arms in the air.
Neither myself or my injured army veteran companion could have stood all night. We don’t have the stamina of John Blunt and his band.
I felt honoured to meet John Blunt and the band and producer/manager backstage. John looked and smelled gorgeous in a dreamy, cream satin bathrobe which I silently envied. I came to the conclusion that this local Brisbane boy must now be a rich man.
Killer Queen Experience present an incredible performance and production that I cannot recommend highly enough.
Killer Queen Experience
The Tivoli, 52 Costin Street, Fortitude Valley (Brisbane)
Performance: Saturday 13 November 2021
Image: Killer Queen Experience Supplied)
Review: Michele-Rose Boylan