NME After Print: One Night of Queen: Gary Mullen delivers as Freddie Mercury
As the crowd flows into the theater you can feel the excitement. Freddie Mercury has been gone for 25 years now, but tonight, Gary Mullen and The Works bring back the magic of Queen for past and future generations to enjoy. A gentleman in a gray ball cap talks about his knowledge of who made Brian May's guitar while others talk about how Queen brought so many memories to their lives. I learned about Queen at the age of 14, borrowing all of my neighbor, Tommy's, vinyl records to make tapes of my own. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Queen. The idea of sitting in Popejoy Hall waiting to see someone take on a legend is bittersweet. Will he live up to my expectations? Just as the question was asked, the lights begin to dim.
The show opened with "One Vision", having the band members, David Brockett (lead guitar, celebrating a birthday), John Halliwell (drums) Malcolm Gentle (keyboards/piano) and Billy Moffat (bass) take the stage first, leaving Mullen to make a grand entrance. When Mullen took the stage he wasn't Gary Mullen, he was Freddie Mercury. From the gestures to the voice, he showed the same showmanship that Mercury did every time he stepped on the stage and he never dropped character the whole night. This was not your typical Popejoy show. This was a bona fide rock concert, complete with lighting and a sound system that rumbled with every stroke of the guitar and every beat of the drum. From "Under Pressure" to "Another One Bites the Dust", their performance was worthy to call themselves the best in the business.
Mullen truly proved his talent when he took the stage with just his guitarist to perform the love ballad "Love of my Life." It's one thing to perform the high energy songs with the moves, but the real test is when you slow it all down. leaving you with nothing but just the voice, and once again, Mullen did not disappoint. At one moment during the show, I caught a glimpse of a little boy with his father fist pumping to "Bohemian Rhapsody" and a tear fell from my eye. Mullen & The Works was giving this generation and opportunity that I also didn't have, to see a legend on stage for one night. I started the evening in my seat, but as the night went on I found myself at the front of the Popejoy stage screaming with the rest of the audience, praying they'll play "Radio Ga Ga", which they did.
As Gary Mullen & The Works wrapped up the show with the classic combination of "We Will Rock You" and "We Are The Champions" I realized the show was coming to an end and I felt the loss again. I'm not kidding when I say they were that good. This was not a tribute band - it's beyond that. I walked into that theater a skeptic and walked out a believer. Popejoy hit a home run with bringing this show to their stage. Thank you, Gary Mullen, for giving me my evening with Freddie Mercury.