One Night of Queen
Performed by Gary Mullen and The Works
Stars: Gary Mullen (vocals and guitar), David Brockett (guitar), John Halliwell (percussion), Malcolm Gentles (keyboard) and Billy Moffat (bass guitar)
Friday, March 16, 8 p.m., Yardley Hall, Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas USA
Freddie Mercury (1946-1991) was the lead singer for the rock band, Queen. Their popularity in the British Isles lead to world-wide fame for the group and for their leader, Freddie Mercury. .The band was formed in 1970 with drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist Brian May. Mercury had an encompassing personality ,was a talented writer and had a four-octave vocal range. Hits that remain popular to this day include “We Are The Champions,” “Bohemian Rhapsody, “Killer Queen,” Somebody to Love” and “Don’t Stop Me Now.” After Mercury passed away, was there anyone who could match that vocal range and personality?
Enter Gary Mullen, who in 2000 won the “Stars In Their Eyes” grand television finale in Great Britain. Then came, “Gary Mullen and The Works,” who, from 2002 and continuing, have toured the world with their homage to Mercury and the band, Queen. This group performs over 150 shows a year throughout the world and recently, came to the Midwest with their brand of showmanship. The audience was not disappointed.
Gary Mullen comes from Scotland and has been a performer for most of his life. The Works consists of David Brockett from Scotland (guitar), John Halliwell from Scotland (percussion and that silver drum set onstage was brilliant), Malcolm Gentles from Manchester (keyboards) and Billy Moffat from Scotland (bass guitar). Brockett’s guitar solo was a highlight.
You can always see Gary Mullen on stage as he wears the traditional Mercury color---white. Slacks, shirt, shoes, jacket, undershirt…and in the cautious Midwest, only the jacket and shirt went. Mullen does have quite a vocal range, plus breath control. He has black hair, moustache and carries the microphone and stand around as though it was a long-lost friend, never to be parted from again. The show was highlighted by a spectacular light design that resembled polka-dots against a black screen when unlit, and an array of multi-colored lights in various designs, when lit. This accomplishes a great deal---easy to travel and open to innovation.
The show opened with “We Will Rock You,” which, in Kansas/Missouri is a song for the Kansas City Chiefs football team. That got this audience right away, and from then on, Mullen urged the audience to stand and clap, or even dance in the aisle (few did). It was a two-hour show, with twelve songs in the first set and ten in the second. Favorites were “Another One Bites The Dust,” “Somebody To Love,” “Killer Queen,” “I Want To Break Free,” “I Want It All,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the last one, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” How Mullen keeps his energy level up is amazing, and he is not only on the stage, but in the audience, behind the band, by each of the musicians and their instruments and is in constant motion. “Energizer Bunny” comes to mind.
I had expected the sold out crowd to be loud, but then, at this time of the year, Kansas City goes basketball crazy for the three major college teams in the area, The University of Kansas, Kansas State University and Wichita State University. So it was loud, but not loud-loud. Voices were fading.
Gary Mullen and The Works had just come to the Midwest from touring in the British Isles, and from the U.S. goes back to Britain and then Australia. Queen and Freddie Mercury are always remembered.
Copyright 2018 Marie Asner