Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Queen + Paul Rodgers

Two Nearly Bands: Compare
Key Arena, Seattle, WA

Chip and I are here to see Queen + Paul Rodgers, and we're excited to compare their performance with tribute band Queen: It's A Kinda Magic who we saw last year. While both bands use pre-recorded backing vocals and replacement lead singers, I believe the tribute band delivered a more consistently entertaining performance, sticking with the hits. Chip prefers this Queen since they sound like a live band and offer two of the original four members of Queen. Like *that* gets you anything.

Paul Rodgers looks like a rock star action figure, with his tight pecs and pants with the sparkly flair. Or maybe a spinning instructor. Either way, super cute and as gay as Freddie (come on - later he changes into leather pants and a tight red tank top. Come ON. Granted I hope I look that great when I'm 57.). Roger Taylor is a little worse for wear. After a long drum solo during which his jowls shake, he hulks off the stage for a rejuvenation session in the hyperbolic chamber. We figure there's only room for one person in there because he & Brian trade off a few times.

During the performances of the early Queen songs, we spot Wayne and Garth a few rows down. Garth claps to a beat not found in the song, but Wayne flails like a man possessed. First he makes stabbing gestures like he's putting a spell on the band, then he morphs to air keyboards, then to straight-up exorcism. He flings his arms to the side and does an impressive back bend whenever his experience reaches a climax. It's a joy to behold. During Brian May's masturbatory guitar solo, many folks in my section keep eyes on Wayne rather than on the stage. Of course, all of Wayne's convulsions are put on pause for songs written after 1980, Chip's favorite Queen era.

There are some other great fans to watch. First is an older gal dancing with her granddaughters, rocking out to every single song. Next is a Michael McDonald-looking guy right near the front, who cranes to snap a perfect cel phone shot every time a performer gets near him. Another guy's mullet is nearly forgivable because the he is wearing a sharp sport jacket, but he loses all points by taking off the jacket to reveal a t-shirt with the sleeves cut off. And finally there is mom with her two boys. Mom looks interested at first, but after a string of new songs that her sons don't know, she starts thinking, like lots of other people in the audience, please just play We Will Rock You so we can go home. It's a school night.

The early songs go over well. During "Love of My Life," a girl right next to us stands and allows a solitary Movie of the Week tear to roll down her face. But when the band breaks into a Bad Company song, I sense a slight ripple of discontent on the floor. Many of the superfans who are here to hear Queen songs now stand with their arms folded waiting for this *other* song to be over. They'll have more waiting to do, as by gum Paul is going to play his music.

But back to the comparison. This Queen is trying to stay vital and current, so they throw in newer songs (they have newer songs?), long guitar and drum solos, and loose interpretations of the songs due to Paul Rodgers' shriveled vocal range. Original members or no, at least the tribute guy could sing, and the audience never experienced long lulls like we are witnessing here tonight. But Chip loves them. All Chip hears is Radio GaGa.

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