Reviewer: Janet Jepson
The Bohemians tribute band members begin as they mean to go on: ‘We will rock you’, and it’s a promise, they certainly do rock the rafters. The beat is strong, the volume is high, and all the numbers are renditions of the famous offerings from the late Freddie Mercury and his talented musicians. The audience is taken on an extensive tour of Queen’s fabulous hits from the early work with its heavy harmonies and piano presence, through to the well-known pop songs and rock anthems of the 80s and very early 90s before Mercury’s untimely passing at the end of 1991.
Rob Comber as Freddie Mercury certainly looks the part, and he is skilled on the piano and acoustic guitar. He has the moustache, the crazy moves, the broody, strutting walk, the suggestive actions performed with the microphone mounted on its baton, and Freddie’s trademark costumes look very good on him. He can carry off the tight white jeans, the Superman vest and the scarlet and yellow jackets almost as well as Mercury could. For all that though, there is just a little of the passion missing, his vocals lack conviction – when they are not drowned out by the heavy music – and sometimes it feels as if the songs are merely being performed, but not really experienced as they should. For example, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is rightly introduced as “the Big One” but the band seems to just sing the words – there is little feeling or soul seeping from it. Christopher Gregory however covers the Brian May slot as lead guitarist excellently; in his hands an electric guitar can talk – an instrumental national anthem seems to have words when he performs it, and his ‘Killer Queen’ solo could slay. If his bad wig is somewhat distracting, he can be forgiven it for the passion in his playing! Wayne Bourne as drummer Roger Taylor is likewise talented, his loud and energetic solos are wildly applauded, and quite rightly the evening throbs to his beat. Completing the team is Kevin Goodwin as bass guitarist/vocalist John Deacon, who is an enthusiastic singer and able guitar player.
The set is modest, only a star cloth backdrop and four colour-changing spots enhance the regular band layout, with its drums on a raised platform, providing steps for Freddie’s wanderings. It is a little disappointing that there are no projected clips of the genuine Queen performing, as is quite usual at these tribute evenings, but maybe all an audience of true worshippers needs is ok renditions of iconic numbers such as ‘Another one bites the dust’, ‘It’s a kind of magic’, ‘Radio Ga Ga’ and ‘Seven Seas of Rye’ to mention but a few.
The evening with the Bohemians is rousing, sometimes a little too loud, and Freddie’s voice can sometimes seem to be a little ‘Under Pressure’, but for all that it’s a good night. There’s no excuse to not be on your feet proclaiming that ‘I want it all’ because ‘Friends will be Friends’ and after all ‘We are the Champions’!
Queen rules, and if there are a few niggles in this tribute act, who are we to argue with the greatest rock classics ever to hit the music scene?
Reviewed on: Friday 29 May 2015