Queen tribute show coming to Kennewick July 31

Dori O'Neal, Tri-City HeraldJuly 17, 2014 

The music of Freddie Mercury and Queen comes to the Tri-Cities on July 31 in the tribute Queen -- It's Kinda Magic.

The two-hour show starts at 8 p.m. at the Toyota Center in Kennewick features the voice of Giles Taylor as Mercury, who died in 1991 of complications from AIDS.

Taylor dyed his light hair black, grew a mustache and conditioned his body to emulate Mercury's appearance.

But trying to copy Mercury's powerful voice is no easy task, Taylor told the Herald in a phone interview.

"The vocals were the hardest hurdle, a big mountain to climb," he said. "My range is the same as Freddie's, but my voice is lower."

Taylor, 30, was chosen from hundreds of singers around the world, said Peter Freestone, who was Mercury's personal assistant for 12 years.

"I first met Freddie after he performed at a charity gala with the Royal Ballet, where I was working at the time," Freestone said. "I talked with him for a few minutes, saying how I thought the mix of Queen music and the Royal Ballet and the voice of Freddie worked well. He thanked me and asked what I did at the opera house."

Freestone explained he took care of the dancers' costumes and that was the end of their conversation until a couple of weeks later, when he received a call from Queen's management asking if he would consider a six-week tour with Queen to care for the band's costumes.

That temporary job turned into a full-time job, with Freestone becoming Mercury's personal assistant.

"There were two different Freddie Mercurys," Freestone said. "The giant from the stage and the quiet reflective person at home. It was like he used the in-your-face performer to hide the shy person who was behind it."

About 10 years ago, Showtime and Freestone put together the Queen -- It's Kinda Magic show.

The title comes from Queen's 1986 album A Kind of Magic, and it has evolved over time. The show toured three years ago, and recently, Showtime decided to revive it with all new musicians.

"There is a totally new group of musicians coming from different parts of the world for this tour," he said. "And they create as good a (Queen) sound as I have heard in a while."

And though most people believe there will never be another Freddie Mercury, Freestone says Taylor is the next best thing.

"Giles puts everything he has into performing the part of Freddie and is able to bring back great moments from my time touring with Queen," he said. "We had a great team putting this show together, a producer with Showtime and the vibrant young music director Milan 'Chriss' Satnik from the Czech Republic and myself."

Some of Queen's greatest hits were Bohemian Rhapsody, We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions, Another One Bites the Dust, Under Pressure, Fat Bottomed Girls, Crazy Little Thing Called Love and Somebody to Love.

Tickets cost from $39 to $59 and are available at www.ticketmaster.com or the Toyota Center box office. Tickets purchased at the box office avoid service charges.

-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @dorioneal

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