The Queen Extravaganza



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"I absolutely recommend this show to anyone who has ever heard Queen!"
June 29th 2012


Guitar World - Matt Blackett at the Regency Ballroom—San Francisco June 26, 2012

Ever since I first heard about the auditions for the Queen Extravaganza, a Queen-sanctioned tribute band whose players were selected by Roger Taylor himself, I’ve been anxious to catch the show. I got my chance last night when the Extravaganza rolled into SF to play the Regency. I showed up early, got a great parking spot, and had walked about half a block down the street when I heard the strange sound of a runaway dumpster careening into my car, obliterating my driver’s side mirror. Great. I’m not exactly in love with my car, but you wouldn’t wish this on any vehicle. Oh yeah...the gig.

So, I get inside and meet the two guitarists of the band, Brian Gresh and Tristan Avakian. They graciously filmed some video, answering questions about their gear and the setlist. Tristan even let me try his rig, which consists of a BMG signature guitar, a Greg Fryer Treble Booster, a Tech 21 Boost Chorus, TC Flanger, and Xotic RC Booster, all into a Vox AC30 that he says is up “about 80%.” Brian "Backflip" Gresh plays an EVH guitar as well as a Strat, because he was unable to obtain a lefty Brian May model.

The full band took the stage and opened with the fast version of “We Will Rock You,” and I instantly recognize the first singer as one Jeff Scott Soto, whom you might remember from such gigs as Yngwie J. Malmsteen and Journey. He’s a great rock singer and killed the tune. Avakian and Gresh sounded great, with nice tones and sweet solos that struck a nice balance between note-for-note Brian May parts and their own things. One thing both guitarists were able to nail in impressive fashion is the trademark Brian May vibrato, not an easy feat. That maintained a proper level of Queeniness even when they were improvising parts.

The set, not surprisingly, is chock-full of hits, and those were all awesome. “Killer Queen,” with the incredible Marc Martel on lead vocals, was a beauty, with Gresh and Avakian creating the guitar solo harmonies and counterpoint in real time. A slightly truncated version of “Save Me” was huge and powerful, as was “I Want It All.” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which they used to close the first set, was a stunning, jaw-dropping show stopper. The guitars were amazing and spot on, but the vocal arrangement was out of this world and far beyond anything the real Queen ever attempted in concert.

The hits were all great, but the few surprises they threw in were super cool. “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon” was a delight, with the guitar guys nailing the tight, harmonized solo. “The March of the Black Queen” was heavy and dark, and “In the Lap of the Gods” was majestic. 

I absolutely recommend this show to anyone who has ever heard Queen, which is everyone. This is a huge undertaking that shows a tremendous amount of respect for the material, massive musicianship, and great showmanship. It’s a jollification as a matter of fact, so tres charmant, my dear!

Texas, Grand Prairie Review!
June 26th 2012

texas, Grand Prairie Review!

The Queen Extravaganza – Concert Review by a Hardcore Queenie

By: Donna Standridge 

I want to say right off the bat, I am a hardcore, lifelong Queen fan. NO ONE has EVER done their music justice in my eyes… until now.

Queen’s Roger Taylor is a sheer genius.  Growing weary of the plethora of Queen tribute bands out there, most of whom were less than desirable, Taylor had this little idea – more like one vision – to create his OWN tribute band, with musicians hand-picked from the internet.  And with some help from Dr. Brian May and Spike Edney, he molded this group of talent into what he felt a tribute band should be.  So, from this seemingly crazy idea, a phenomenon was born… The Queen Extravaganza.

When Taylor selected his band members, he didn’t get just singers, ax-men and drummers – he got true musicians – each multi-talented.  Overnight internet sensation Marc Martel not only sings with Mercurial luster, he plays keyboards and guitar.  Everyone in the band can sing, right down to the very energetic, Taylor-esque drummer, Tyler Warren.

We had the distinct pleasure of catching the Queen Extravaganza show at the Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie, Texas on June 19.  The crowd demographic was all over the charts… from the very young to the very old, all there for that one purpose – the love of Queen.  To put it in perspective, Queen fans are a different kind of crowd than you see at most rock concerts.  Queen events are like pilgrimages, where people travel hundreds of miles and perfect strangers are instant family.  Get a bunch together like this, and you have one helluva rockin’ family reunion!

The show began, and the crowd went wild as the band commanded the stage with near-flawless performances.  QE digs deep into the Queen catalog, playing fan-loved songs that never hit an airwave, in addition to the hits everyone knows, and teasings of the tidbits in between.  The songs were divided out among the five vocalists according to their range and “fit” to each song.  Yes, five vocalists, because one cannot leave out Tyler Warren’s dead-on handling of both drums and lead vocals on I’m In Love With My Car.

Veteran frontman/vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (a big Queen fan himself) commanded the power and grit of such fast-movers as Tie Your Mother Down and Stone Cold Crazy, while Yvan Pedneault very aptly took on some of the softer, but no less intense side of the catalog.  The lone female of the group, Texan Jennifer Espinoza was the perfect choice to lead March of the Black Queen and Who Wants to Live Forever.  For the songs when no one other than the fabulous Freddie Mercury would (or could) do, those slippers were filled almost flawlessly by Marc Martel.  There were many, many times during his performances when you could simply close your eyes and swear Freddie was right there, on-stage.  At certain points during his performance, there was barely a dry eye in the house.  The duets and choral performances allowed us to see and hear things never before done on stage – such as Bohemian Rhapsody in it’s entirety.  Now that’s talent.

Musically, this band is dead-on at capturing the sound and essence of Queen.  Having to have two guitarists to replicate the sound of one Brian May should give you an indication this was no easy feat.  Tristan Avakian and Brian Gresh were excellent selections to pull it off and keep it interesting with on-stage dueling.  Bass player Francois-Olivier Doyon, much like John Deacon, kept mostly to the shadows, but the booming riffs were almost as good as the legendary bassman.  Perhaps a little too booming at times, but this is something the sound engineers need to deal with.  The addition of keyboardist and music manager Brandon Ethridge added that extra finesse – the cherry on top, if you will.

All in all, this card was well-played, and this band is worth it’s weight in gold and platinum.  I hope someone was smart enough to film for a DVD release (hint hint, Roger).

Has the success gone to the band mates’ heads?  Not a bit. We got a chance to relax and talk with them after the show was over and the public had gone.  These guys are happy, soft-spoken and humble.  They enjoy what they’re doing and are seemingly a little bewildered by it all.  Speaking briefly with Marc, we mentioned his sensational You Tube video audition that went viral overnight, to which he humbly replied with a shy smile, “Yeah, that still amazes me.”

This may be a brief, whirlwind tour for now, but I don’t expect it to stop there.  The Queen Extravaganza is a worthy sensation, and this group in particular needs to carry on, carry on.

Dallas Review: 'Queen Extravaganza truly was a Queen experience...'
June 21st 2012


Tribute band captures the essence of Queen at Verizon Theatre show

By Talia Richman

When Jennifer Espinoza left Texas, she was an aspiring rock star who often performed at Six Flags Fiesta.

On Tuesday night, she was back in her home state as one of 10 musicians performing in the Queen Extravaganza – the official Queen tribute show produced by Roger Taylor, Queen’s drummer.

The concert – which aspired to recreate the elaborate design of Queen’s shows and celebrate Queen’s legacy – was held at Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie.

The band was put together through an intensive online audition process (overseen by Taylor) that generated more than 10 million views on YouTube.

They have performed on “American Idol” and throughout the United States and Canada.

Queen Extravaganza truly was a Queen experience, if Queen doubled in size, hired a female vocalist, and added two guitarists who looked as if they had been plucked from the punk table at the local high school.

But in the ways that count, they were extremely similar: They had the energy, passion and almost magical ability to bring people together that defined Queen.

They were the type of polarizing performers who could compel hundreds of audience members to slam on the air guitar in perfect unison exactly four minutes and 10 seconds into Bohemian Rhapsody.

The audience also reflected Queen’s extensive legacy. There was a little girl whose pink hair ribbons and pigtails flew around as she rocked out to “We Are the Champions,” sitting right next to an elderly couple who slow-danced to “You’re My Best Friend.”

For the “Queen nerds out there,” the band played some of the more obscure songs like “March of the Black Queen” and “In the Lap of the Gods,” but they mostly stuck to popular anthems, including “Somebody to Love,” “Another One Bites the Dust ” and “Under Pressure.”

The lighting and staging – done by Mark Fisher, who has been responsible for every Rolling Stones show since 1989 – didn’t quite match the fabled insanity of Queen’s concerts, but it was still wild enough that someone with a seizure disorder would’ve had a hard time.

They added excitement by playing clips of Freddy Mercury’s voice before certain songs and playing never-before-seen Queen footage on three video screens behind the band.

It took three male vocalists to match the charisma and vocal ability of Mercury, but together they sounded convincing and amazing.

I just hope, for the sake of girls everywhere, co-lead singer Yvan Pedneault, is different from Mercury in just one way.

While none of them performed with their shirts ripped open, there were plenty of drunken fans willing to take on that patented Mercury look.

Maybe it was the strobe lights, the spectacular songs or the talented musicians, but half the audience didn’t seem to mind that these performers weren’t actually Queen.

People still flooded to the stage, reaching their hands up to try and touch the performers who made such great music happen.

The primary lead singer, Marc Martel – who bears a striking resemblance to Mercury in his prime – said that, other than the great music, Queen’s legacy was about four very different guys laying aside their differences to make music.

He said that is what the Queen Extravaganza was all about.

Overall, Queen Extravaganza captured the essence of Queen, performing their songs in such an authentic and fun way that they put those many, many “Glee” covers to shame.

Win Roger Taylor Drum Skin In QE Giveaway
June 18th 2012


The critically-acclaimed Official Queen Tribute Show is going on tour near you! Here’s your chance to win official Queen merchandise, including an exclusive signed drum skin from Roger Taylor!

One lucky winner will get:

An exclusive drum skin signed by Roger Taylor

Vinyl records including The Cosmos Rocks, News Of The World, A Kind of Magic, Queen II, and A Night at the Opera

The Queen 40 Limited Edition Collector’s Box Sets, Volumes I and II

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Twenty One 5 STAR REVIEWS!
June 12th 2012


"Queen Extravaganza - they totally NAILED IT!!!"

"Wow,wow.This is no tribute Band It is a total show"

"Phenomenal Concert!"

"Queen Extravaganza was awesome!!!"

"Queen Extravaganza ROCKED US!"

Just a handful of the twenty one 5 STAR fan reviews for the Queen Extravaganza from concert goers in North America...we think they liked it...!

Click here to read all twenty one reviews!

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