Concert Review – “One Night Of Queen”

There will never be another Freddie Mercury. No offense to Adam Lambert but the current touring version of Queen just doesn’t carry the same emotional weight as hearing songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Somebody To Love” by Freddie. But if you missed your chance to see Freddie live, let me assure you the next best thing is “One Night Of Queen” by Gary Mullen and The Works. It’s is a MUST-SEE concert event. Their tribute to Queen act is hyped as “Guaranteed to Rock You” and they’ve been named the “World’s Premiere Queen Tribute Act” and do they deliver on that promise! Whether it’s a Guns N’ Roses act trying to mimic Axl or a David Lee Roth imitator trying to live up to Van Halen’s legacy, it’s always a crap-shoot coming to a tribute band’s concert. But from the opening two numbers “One Vision” and “Under Pressure”, Gary’s energy, voice, and enthusiasm instantly won the crowd over. If you closed your eyes, you got goosebumps as the band and Mullen’s voice was so similar to Queen’s original versions. “Somebody To Love” was SO spot-on that I was floored by the performance.

The sold out renovated Mahaffey Theater in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida was in for a treat as Gary Mullen’s band “tricked” the crowd into believing they were watching Queen. When you have such definitive Classic Rock songs as “Killer Queen”, “Another One Bites The Dust”, and “Don’t Stop Me Now” it would be easy to come across as a parody or Vegas act, but Mullen delivered with an innate ability to reincarnate the spirit of Freddie Mercury. The older crowd would often try to sit during the performance but Gary was going to turn this into a party no matter what he had to do! “This is going to be the most fun you’ve had with your clothes on”. Gary’s mannerisms mimicked all of Mercury’s most famous moves and even his interactions with the crowd made the night even more fun. At one point, Gary took off his fake Mercury mustache and seemlessly transitioned to another era of Queen’s history.

Gary Mullen and the Works isn’t a one-man show. Lead guitarist, David Brockett, kept pace with all of Brian May’s incredible guitar solos including the heavy guitar riff on “Stone Cold Crazy”. Jon Halliwell on drums and Malcolm Gentles on keyboards were solid all night and they were even selling copies of bassist Billy Moffat’s solo CD, BSides, in the front lobby. The show was a non-stop performance of Queen’s illustrious catalog of classics culminating with an enthusiastic version of “Fat Bottomed Girls/Bicycle Race” followed by “Crazy Thing Called Love” with Mullen on the acoustic guitar doing his best Freddie meets Elvis performance. The encore of “Bohemian Rhapsody” kept with the current version of Queen’s tradition of leaving the stage empty while Mercury sings the operatic version of the middle part of the song. Of course, the enthusiastic crowd was on their feet for the ultimate closing number “We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions” followed by the traditional instrumental “God Saves The Queen” that marked the end of Queen’s concerts.

As we left the Mahaffey Theater everyone had the same reaction, “WOW!” “I can’t believe how good they are!” Unfortunately for U.S. fans, Gary Mullen And The Works just completed their U.S. Tour with three last dates in Florida. But after celebrating their 10 year anniversary on this leg of the tour, Gary promised his band can’t wait to get back to Florida!