Radio GaGa – Ipswich Regent
‘A Day at the Races’ by Queen was one of the first albums I remember spending my pocket money on (way back in 1976) and I’d also been fortunate enough to see the real band with the original line up at Wembley as part of the iconic Live Aid performance in July 1985 – so I was excited to relive some of the glorious songs and memories last night at Ipswich Regent when ‘Radio GaGa’ (a Queen tribute band) took to the stage.
It was great fun for both young and old – the show was a sell out and the audience ranged from eight to eighty – so for anyone that wanted to sing along and feel part of the performance, ‘Freddy’ (Mark Sanders) was hugely influential in that respect and openly encouraged lots of audience participation.
There were lots of ‘sing backs’ with Mark leading the way on the mic and the audience responding loudly – and plenty of slick guitar solos from Richard Ashford who is an amazing lead guitarist – and especially excelled with his nimble fret-work during ‘Hammer to Fall’ and ‘Somebody to Love’.
Jon Caulton – on bass guitar as John Deacon – was also exceptional. The iconic opening bass-line to ‘Under Pressure’ reverberated throughout the audience and the stage lighting that accompanied this particular track really helped to energise the atmosphere and drew the audience even further in.
In the original Queen line-up, Freddy Mercury also played the piano and keyboards (it always seemed an effortless task for him) and was a huge part of his on-stage presence.
With the Radio GaGa line up, this role is performed by Ben Parkinson, and he is absolutely brilliant in his task. Throughout the show, Mark (Freddy) consistently praised his talents and he was outstanding during the wonderful rendition of the 1974 classic, ‘Killer Queen’.
The show was over two acts, the first heralded many of my old favourites – ‘Tie Your Mother Down’ and’Seven Seas of Rye’ and the second half paid tribute more to the latter days of Freddy Mercury’s life with hits such as ‘I Want to Break Free’ and ‘Those Were the Days’.
Finally, I must pay tribute to the drummer of the band – Michael Richards (in the role of Roger Taylor) was absolutely outstanding. His energy, exuberance and sheer stage presence (even being at the back!) was extraordinary and for me, was the true showman of this performance.
He kept pace and rhythm throughout, inserted passion and vitality and excelled with a couple of drum solos that had the crowd crying out for more.
Of course, all good things must come to an end and we were not disappointed by the closing choice of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. The audience sung along with gusto and after a standing ovation, we set off into the night wondering if it really was the real life … or was it just fantasy….