Emporia Arts Council brought in Gary Mullen & The Works, a Queen tribute band, to perform One Night of Queen on March 14 during Emporia State’s spring break. I sat in the very front row, basically touching the stage. I could literally reach out and my hand would be on it.
I really enjoy Queen’s music, but I wouldn’t say I am their biggest fan to ever exist. However, if I was building my dream band I would choose Brian May to be my guitarist. I have watched a few documentaries on Queen and Mercury growing up, I watched the Bohemian Rhapsody movie and I have the band’s music on my playlist. These gave me a rough idea of what to expect from this concert and honestly, I am not sure if that's what I got. The band slowly came out and I couldn’t tell which one was Mullen, but I knew if he was on that stage I was already disappointed because he wasn’t in costume. “A Kind of Magic” started by the band and out ran Mullen dressed as Mercury. He wore white skinny jeans and a white cut off with big, bold, red letters that read ”FLASH” with a red jacket.
The band slowly came out and I couldn’t tell which one was Mullen, but I knew if he was on that stage I was already disappointed because he wasn’t in costume. “A Kind of Magic” started by the band and out ran Mullen dressed as Mercury. He wore white skinny jeans and a white cut off with big, bold, red letters that read ”FLASH” with a red jacket.
I was shocked. He was smaller than I expected and didn’t look as much like Mercury as I had been led to believe by their website and flyers. At first I didn’t think he sounded like him either. I just kind of stood there trying to decide how I felt.
As the concert went on the band sang songs such as “Somebody to Love,” “Killer Queen,” “I Want to Break Free,” “Under Pressure” and so on.
Some of the songs sounded just like Mercury and others not so much, almost like his vocal chords were straining.
Mullen was super engaged with the crowd by giving high fives and taking selfies. He called people out for not dancing or clapping and even ran off the stage, through the crowd. He called one woman out for leaving to get more beer. He also really encouraged everyone to stand up because they paid for a ticket.
He seemed like he genuinely just wanted everyone to have a good time. I appreciated it.
At first I thought it was really weird and not what I expected at all. However, that is my own fault because I basically expected Freddie Mercury reincarnated to come on stage and perform like it was Live Aid. Once I realized it was just some guys who enjoy the music and want to continue that legacy on and keep Mercury alive, I had a way better time and really respected it.
One moment that really stood out to me is a mom, during the middle of Mullen speaking, asked him to take pictures with her daughters. Mullen said he would have taken pictures after the show but he guessed he could do it then. “Uno momento” he told the audience and took pictures with the children. After his next song he gave them free posters and a Freddie Mercury Plushie. This made me smile because those kids will probably remember that moment forever. I mean, who could forget being front row at a concert and the performer stopping everything to take pictures with you and then give you free stuff? I bet music will be with those girls forever now.
My biggest complaint would be sometimes the entire band would walk off stage and music was still playing. I am not sure what that was, but it ruined the experience for me. Did they have music playing with them the entire time? Why was music playing when the band wasn’t? It wasn’t like an intermission, it was like they stepped away for a second for a drink or something and the drums or guitar kept going. Maybe that’s a musical thing that I just don’t understand, but I have never seen that before.
I respect what Mullen and his band are doing, so if you like Queen and have the opportunity to attend One Night Of Queen I would recommend it. If you aren’t a Queen fan then I wouldn’t suggest it because I think you would miss what Mullen is trying to do. Overall, I am thankful for the experience and I had fun.
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