By Stephen K. Peeples
Signal Staff Writer
With Fox’s Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” reigning the box office its first weekend out Nov. 2-4 and topping the $100 million mark a week later, Queen Nation, the hottest Queen tribute band in the West, will rock the Canyon Santa Clarita on Friday, Nov. 23.
“The Canyon Clubs are our home clubs, and we can pretty much do anything or play as long as we want,” said singer-guitarist Mike McManus, aka Brian May, who helped co-found Queen Nation in 2004. His bandmates are fellow Queen fanatics Gregory Finsley as lead singer-pianist Freddie Mercury, Pete Burke as drummer Roger Taylor, and Parker Combs as bassist John Deacon.
“So, for our crowds who love Queen and have been coming to see us for a while, we’ll definitely play all the hits, but also some deeper tracks for the diehard Queen fans,” McManus said.
Along with now-classics like “Killer Queen,” “Tie Your Mother Down,” “You’re My Best Friend,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Somebody to Love,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “We Are the Champions”/“We Will Rock You,” Queen Nation will dive deep into the British band’s 15-studio-album catalog spanning 1973-1995.
“One of our favorites is ‘It’s Late,’ from ‘News of the World’ (1977),” McManus said. “It’s a heavy rocker, but we strip it down to an acoustic mini-set where just Gregory and I will do ‘Love of My Life’ (from 1975’s “Night at the Opera”). Then we’ll come back with the band and maybe finish up with ‘39’ (from “Night…”) or ‘Dreamer’s Ball’” (from 1978’s “Jazz”).
The operatic section of Queen’s original 1975 recording of “Bohemian Rhapsody” was such a multitracked studio tour de force that even Freddie, Brian, Roger and John couldn’t recreate it onstage.
“Impossible — a million overdubs with the vocals,” McManus said. “So they would just leave the stage, play the tape of the operatic section, then come back onstage with the big bombastic part.”
For Queen Nation, though, that didn’t really work. “So, we decided to let the audience sing the operatic part, because in 2018, everybody knows it,” McManus said.
“When we get to that part, I tell everybody, ‘Okay, we want to hear your best opera voices!’ And they make the loudest, most awesome sound you’ve ever heard — hundreds, sometimes thousands of people singing at the top of their lungs with all their heart. Sometimes they’re in key, sometimes not. But always turns into a big, cacophonous wall of awesomeness.”
Find out more at www.queennation.com.
Find the Canyon Santa Clarita on the ground floor of the Westfield Valencia Town Center. Get tickets at the box office 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, by phone at 888-645-5006, or via TicketMaster.com. For more info, visit WheremusicmeetstheSoul.com.