The Queen Extravaganza at The Liverpool Empire

Posted on 7 November 2016
By Chris High
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Tribute bands are something of a hit-and-miss affair, although there are some to be recommended. Australian Pink Floyd, AB/CD and Limehouse Lizzy to name but three. However, none of these come close to what The Queen Extravaganza – a five piece band, hand-picked by Roger Taylor and Brian May – managed to achieve in 90 minutes of musical magic at The Liverpool Empire.

Electric Pyramid, who recently supported Queen + Adam Lambert across Europe, are fine openers. Their heady brand of rock is infused with a lightness that is familiar yet elusive, with their musicianship standing head and shoulders above the norm. Their latest single Rome is a beautiful thing, with a lyric line that smacks of reminisce whereas their alternate version of Moon River is simply breathtaking. A fabulous band and one more than worthy of taking notice of.

The Queen Extravaganza is everything it says on the tin. Loud, proud and consummately stunning, the very fact that this time out they are playing the entire A Night At The Opera album says something about their prowess.

Death On Two Legs is the opener and from then on things simply improve, with Marc Mantel’s uncanny vocal resemblance to the late great Freddie Mercury adding a twist to the gut straight from the off. Prophet Song complete with delayed call-and-response section, is quite stunning, whereas the power Mantel reproduces for Sweet Lady makes it as fresh and vibrant today as it was in 1975.

There is another thing that stands out also: the band never try to ‘impersonate’ Queen – there are no yellow leather jackets, stripy shirts or bass playing finger licking antics to be seen – and instead rely on their own mastery to truly highlight Queen’s expertise in taking the ordinary and making extraordinary.

Tyler Warren’s I’m In Love With My Car is packed with self-assertive arrogance that is truly mesmerising, whereas Darren Reeves’ Good Company is absolutely spot on, as are his keyboard strokes. Francois-Olivier Doyon’s thumping bass underscores Nick Radcliffe’s immaculate guitar work fantastically well so that at times you’ll need to pinch yourself that you’ve not been transported back 30 years to Queen’s last gig at Knebworth.

It isn’t just A Night At The Opera to which we are treated, however. After a quick shuffle off the stage to much applause, The Queen Extravaganza return to absolutely smash both Seven Seas of Rhye and Stone Cold Crazy, before bringing things down just a little with a searing Save Me.

The light show – as one would expect – is dazzling, with rare archive footage of Queen being played out on the vast screen behind. Moments of memory given a soundtrack for many in the audience who are on their feet and rocking the night away to a man. Don’t Stop Me Now is a true crowd pleaser, but once The Show Must Go On, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions finally see the band troop off, the crowd are theirs.

Freddie Mercury would have been 70 last September. Having seen this “tribute” to his and his cohorts’ extreme body of work, then there is nothing more certain than the fact that he would have more than approved and that,Mercury himself, would have been rocking in the aisles with the rest of us.

Extravagant? Yes! Stunning? Absolutely!

The Queen Extravaganza
The Liverpool Empire Theatre
November 6th, 2016
PR Rating: ***** Extravagantly Brilliant

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