Now that is how you pay tribute to one of the greatest bands ever. For months I have waited to see Queen Nation live, having only heard brief snippets of a couple songs they performed I had a feeling I was going to be in for a great show. See, most everyone knows that I’m a huge KISS fan (hell I have them tattooed on my body,) but my love of Queen isn’t something that I find myself in many opportunities to mention. With KISS, they’re still more or less together, but sadly Queen came to a tragic end with the passing of the great Freddie Mercury. Sure, there was that brief stint with former Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers (and it was good, but not the same,) and now they’re doing “something” with Adam Lambert, who I think would do a comparable job, but he’s still no Freddie. Another tragedy is, I never got the chance to see Queen live, so I figured beyond a few bands mustering up the courage to cover some of their incredible catalog (no one comes to mind right now that covered Queen that made me take notice other than Jeff Scott Soto,) I’d never get to hear these wonderful songs I grew up loving in a live situation. However all that changed when I saw Queen Nation listed on the Amos’ Southend web site.
Granted, beyond one video I saw of them that included them doing small bits of songs, I was taking a great chance of wasting my time and money on a show that could’ve likely sucked. Queen is not a band easy to pull off. For starters there’s that haunting and unique voice of Mercury, but on top of that you’ve got the masterful guitar work of Brian May whose tone is just as integral to the sound as Freddie’s voice, plus the under stated powerhouse bass work of John Deacon, the pounding drums of Roger Taylor, and mixed into that the magnificent backing vocals of all four members. This is a daunting task for any musician to tackle even one part of this band, let alone getting together four members with the same abilities and drive to recreate the greatness of Queen. Queen Nation has done just that. Featuring Joe Retta as Freddie, Mike McManus as Brian (and doing the vocal part of David Bowie spot on for “Under Pressure,) Parker Combs as John, and Peter Burke as Roger I’m not sure you could find a more perfect group of guys to pull off this tribute.
Joining me for the show was Anjeanette, Roger, and Kim. We had plenty of time to kill prior to the show as the opening band was some local Coldplay tribute band (yeah, no shit, I was shocked Coldplay even had a tribute band, but they do) we had no desire to see, so AJ, Kim and I went to the bookstore The Last Word in Charlotte which, ironically enough, is right down the road from where Roger works (and is an AWESOME used bookstore.) Instead of meeting at Amos’ he just met us at the bookstore. Found me some cool books, made my purchase (as well as AJ and Kim) then we decided to try a restaurant none of us except Roger had eaten at before called Showmars. Not sure how widespread this place is, but it’s a Greek restaurant, yet has a varied menu. Let me just say the food there is outstanding! We will definitely be eating there again when in that area, no doubt about it. After our delicious meal was done we still had plenty of time so we made our way to Manifest Records, may favorite record store (yep, those do still exist.) I’ve extolled the virtues of this place of business often, but this was the first time Kim and AJ had ever been there. AJ was astounded at the sheer awesomeness of it all and all Kim could say was, “I’ve never seen anything like this before in my life.” We all sort of broke ranks and did our own thing. Roger was looking for the new KISS Destroyer Resurrected on LP, while I was just looking to see what I was going to buy this time (I can’t go in there without spending at least $30.) AJ stuck with me for a while until she had to go look at shirts before closing time. Kim just wandered around mesmerized by it all. They had a great deal on used CD’s, but sadly they didn’t really have anything that struck my fancy. I walked out with Cannibal Corpse Centuries of Torment and Styx Grand Illusion/Pieces of Eight Live DVD’s. I even joked with the salesman that I bet he didn’t see too many people walking in buying that combo and he said, “Oh yeah, didn’t you hear, they’re going on tour together.” I just laughed and said, “I’d go!”
Then AJ showed me one of the shirts she was buying and I pretty well knew that she was “The One.” It was a Frank Zappa shirt. At first I thought she was maybe showing it to me for my own interest, but I told her that it was too small for me, she returned, “This is for me. I was just showing you.” I had no idea she liked Frank. We didn’t have that discussion as I just figured women just aren’t typically into FZ’s music. Then again I should’ve figured she wasn’t your typical woman either. I mean, she went to see Goatwhore and Cannibal Corpse with me and enjoyed the show just as much as I did. Of course, “I Cum Blood” from Corpse is “our song” (can’t recall if I mentioned this in that show’s review, but we even slow danced a little during it.) So we finished up at Manifest and decided just to head on back to Amos’. We found out prior that Queen Nation wasn’t going on until 10:30, and it was close to 9:15 by this time. The club’s not that far from the store, but sometimes traffic in Charlotte can be a pain in the ass. We got there about 9:45 give or take, and the Coldplay band was still playing. Obviously by our absence, no one in our merry group of peep’s is a Coldplay fan so it stands to reason that we wouldn’t care to see a tribute to them either. I can understand if they wanted to be a U2 tribute band as Coldplay is just a shitty U2 rip-off anyway, but they didn’t ask me so there ya go. From a performance standpoint, they sounded like they were playing well, but the songs of Coldplay are so fucking horrible that not even Dream Theater would make me interested in hearing them.
Finally they finished playing and we made our way inside and got up front. Since there was only going to be one band I figured my knee could tolerate it, plus I wanted to be up there because I knew if they were half as good as I thought they were going to be I was going to have a blast. And it’s just a lot more fun to be in front, singing along with the band anyway. They feed off of that and in turn give a better performance. Not just being a Queen freak, I figured this was going to be my last show until October as I have no plans to even drive next to Charlotte next month what with the DNC being in town. I don’t have any more shows lined up until October, though I am giving some thought of seeing Vital Remains on the 1st as they were awesome the one time I saw them and they don’t come this way often. We shall see. Roger was a bit skeptical about Queen Nation. He said his son had told me he looked at some Youtube videos and just wasn’t impressed. I said I didn’t care, unless they were just absolutely horrible I was going to have a great time and I didn’t care. I said, “You’ll see, they’ll come out and start with ‘Flash’ and you’ll be rocking out too.” Well lo and behold what did they come out on stage to? Yep you guessed it “Flash!” And can I just say…HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!!! They were so damn good!! I leaned over to Roger and said, “Your boy was wrong.” And he nodded his head in agreement. For the next hour and a half I proceeded to sing myself almost hoarse, clap my hands raucously, and just had an absolute blast. That is exactly what a live concert is all about right there. I had such an awesome time, and you could tell the band was enjoying us enjoying the show because they would always look over our way seeing us sing along to even the lesser known songs. At one point they even said they were going to do a song for the true diehard Queen fans and not just the one’s there to hear “Another One Bites the Dust,” and asked if there were any of us in the audience like that and of course they looked our way as we were hooting and hollering. Other than the fact that the Brian May is a left-handed guitarist and wears a wig that just doesn’t “work” and John Deacon doesn’t necessarily look like Deacon, they might as well have been Queen in a lot of respects. Joe Retta not only does the voice very well (let’s face it, no one in a million years could ever do Mercury) he’s got some of his mannerisms down. And barring the fact they didn’t play “Death On Two Legs” (one of 2-3 songs I was hoping for that I was wanting to hear) and “Love of My Life” (which had they played would’ve caused me quite a scene as it’s very tough for me to listen to that song without crying, or at least get the quiver chin) the setlist was fantastic! I even danced with AJ (well, as close to dancing as I would ever do) during “My Best Friend,” which got lots of smiles from the band. I had joked with Roger before the show that had AJ not made it back into town I would’ve had to have danced with him instead.
Overall the show was absolutely stellar. They were about as perfect as a random group of guys coming together to pay tribute to possibly the greatest rock band ever could do. I will definitely see them again when/if they come back around, and if you see them coming near you and you’re a fan of the band, go. I so wish there had been more people there for the show. Sadly, Amos’ was far from sold out for such a great act. So until next time my peep’s (whether that be September 1 or October) always remember: Fat bottomed girls make to rockin’ world go ‘round.
By Chris Martin
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Power Plays w/c 14 October (Mon-Fri)
SANGUINE Ignite (Odyssey Music)
GOODBYE JUNE Switchblade Heart (Earache)
SAINTS OF SIN Nasty Love (indie)
SCARLET REBELS Heal (indie)
FLYING COLORS The Loss Inside (Mascot)
KEYWEST C’est La Vie (indie)
Featured Albums w/c 14 October (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 DANGER ZONE Don’t Count On Heroes (Pride & Joy Music)
12:00-13:00 ECLIPSE Paradigm (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 GALLAGHER & LYLE Live at De Montfort Hall, 1977 (The Store For Music)
Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)
ROBIN TROWER In The Line Of Fire (1990)
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