Thanks to what has been billed as the world’s biggest ever online talent competition, the music of Queen lives on today with The Queen Extravaganza.
Each member of the Queen Extravaganza, comprised of Marc Martel, Jennifer Espinoza, Brian Gersh, Tyler Warren, Francois-Olivier Doyon and Brandon Ethridge, were hand-picked by Queen drummer Roger Taylor to be a part of bringing the music of Queen to a new generation of fans. Taylor also serves as the producer of the Queen Extravaganza with long time Queen keyboardist Spike Edney serving as the global musical director.
The legendary Queen, purveyors of classic rock staples such as “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” and “We Are The Champions,” suffered an immeasurable loss when lead vocalist Freddie Mercury passed away in November 1991. And while Queen drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist Brian May have continued to sporadically perform under the Queen moniker with former Free lead singer Paul Rodgers handling vocal duties, the Queen Extravaganza serves as a definitive tribute to Queen’s catalogue.
More than 20 Queen classics comprise the Queen Extravaganza show. The live show is enhanced visually with rare video footage from Queen’s archives along with newly-created imagery. The Queen Extravaganza’s staging and production elements were designed by the late Mark Fisher, whose impressive resume includes work with U2, The Rolling Stones and Tina Turner.
Performing at Casino New Brunswick next Friday night, The Queen Extravaganza’s Brandon Ethridge told The Times & Transcript last week that the audition process for the band was a nerve wracking experience to say the least.
“Roger Taylor launched a competition via the Internet to find the members who would comprise The Queen Extravaganza,” he says. “Once several of the top choices for each instrument were narrowed down, we were invited to the Foo Fighters studio to play live for Roger and he made the decision from there.
“There were some great choices made in picking the people for the band. It feels good performing with the band plus we have the entire spectrum of vocal pitches between the six of us. It is really quite something.”
Of course the success of any band, whether performing together for decades or whether brought together by fate, largely relies on chemistry. Regardless of the musical ability of any one member of a band, chemistry is not something that can be forced on a group of individuals.
This fact is not lost on Ethridge. He says that the chemistry between the members of the Queen Extravaganza, both on stage and off stage, was something that was instantaneous.
“It was as if we had chosen each other to be a part of the band. I don’t know if it was just good luck or if Roger’s intuition for picking out people’s personalities is just amazing. All of us in the band can spend hours just talking and laughing with each other. It is amazing to be a part of.”
Asked what the most common things that he hears from Queen fans after a Queen Extravaganza show, Ethridge says that the feedback is almost always universal:
“People tell us that they never had the chance to see the original lineup of Queen perform but that they walk away from our show feeling as if they have seen them. Queen is rock and roll royalty so hearing people say that is just the greatest honour that we could ever ask for.”
Thus far, the Queen Extravaganza’s touring schedule has travelled throughout North America. The show began touring in the summer of 2012 with a run of 27 shows and was followed by an additional 20 live dates earlier this year. Later this year, the band will be making their live debut in the United Kingdom, something that Ethridge admits he is slightly nervous about.
“We are all very excited about having the opportunity to play in the home of Queen but we are also very aware that we have some very big shoes to fill when we are there.”
What: Queen Extravaganza
When: Friday Sept. 6, 8 p.m.
Where: Casino New Brunswick, 21 Casino Dr., Moncton
Tickets are $42.50 plus tax and service charges. Advance tickets are available at the Casino Gift Shop, at 1-866-943-8849, and at casinonb.ca
Article published in the August 30, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript