Florida Orchestra are rock gods during Queen tribute
I never had a chance to catch the great Freddie Mercury on tour with Queen in the '80s, when I finally was "allowed" to partake of concerts by the very protective Spears clan. (BTW, Freddie's name is always preceded with either "great" or "legendary" or similar prose. It's the law, perhaps the most just law of our lifetimes.) By the time I was free to see shows at will, the band had long stopped touring the States.
So when the Florida Orchestra announced plans to honor Queen for a single night, I bought a pair of tickets immediately -- damn the cost, seat location or competing entertainment options that night. I stand here this morning to tell you proudly that Friday night's sold-out show at St. Petersburg's Mahaffey Theater was so perfectly satisfying, so loud, so well executed that I'm sure the Earth shifted in its very orbit during the thunderous performance.
Conducted by symphonic rock mastermind Brent Havens and fronted by singer Brody Dolyniuk (who sounded more like Mercury than other one I've heard to date), the orchestra cranked through 18 anthems including the metal-thumping Tie Your Mother Down, Hammer to Fall and Stone Cold Crazy. I had my doubts the orchestra members could contribute much to those tunes, but I couldn't have been more wrong. (If their arms are numb today from keeping up with those head-bangers, it's understandable.)
Even better were the heart-crunching ballads of Who Wants to Live Forever, These Are The Days of Our Lives and the eerily from-the-afterlife perspective of Too Much Love Will Kill You, one of Freddie's very last songs and released after his death in 1991. If I got a little misty-eyed then, I apologize to no one.
If I had to quibble (and seriously, what would be the point of messing with near perfection?), I'd have saved The Show Must Go On for the first spot of the second set (rather than close the first set with it) and ... really, that's about it. Also, I wish the orchestra had booked two more performances for the weekend rather than make this a one-night-only event. I want to see this show again -- like right now.
Of course, Bohemian Rhapsody and Somebody to Love were epic choices to close the show before the orchestra launched into the "encores" We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions. When Dolyniuk left the stage, yelling "Somebody get me a Jack and Coke," I think the 2,000 people in the seats would have jumped at the chance to join him.
Seriously, if the Florida Orchestra wants to do a tribute to New Kids on the Block next, I'd give serious consideration to going to that too.