Gary Mullen and The Works brought Freddie Mercury back to life

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It was like traveling back in time Friday night when Gary Mullen and The Works stepped on stage for their "One Night of Queen" tribute at Popejoy Hall.

At first, I was a little skeptical about the show. How could anyone — ever — walk on stage and try to entertain an audience like Freddie Mercury, the legendary front man of Queen, had done in the '70s and '80s.

Gary Mullen pranced on stage wearing white pants — although not as tight as Mercury. He took off his shirt revealing his hairy chest — albeit not as hairy as Mercury. And did what he's been doing for the past 10 years — paying tribute to the legend who lost his life from complications from AIDS in 1991.

But by the third song or so, Mullen had convinced me, and the rest of the audience, that while he was no Freddie Mercury, his performance was pretty darn close.

Mullen brought Mercury back to life in the two-hour energy filled concert that had most of the crowd on its feet. Mullen's imitations of Mercury's on-stage mannerisms were spot on during crowd favorites such as "Another One Bites the Dust," "We Will Rock You," "Radio Ga Ga," "I Want to Break Free" and "We Are the Champions."

Add to that Elvis' "Jailhouse Rock" and most of Queen's classics and this was a night to remember.

Even though Mercury has been gone for more than two decades, if you closed your eyes and just listened, you would have thought you were at Wembley Stadium in London. Mullen's voice resonated throughout Popejoy Hall, transporting you back to a time when rock 'n' roll was simply about the music.

The band was equally as impressive as Mullen. Bassist Billy Moffett, lead guitarist David Brockett and drummer Jonathan Evans all supplied the audience with respective, spectacular solos, while Martin Campbell on keyboards showed his talent as well.

But what I thought was the best, and most respectful, tribute to Queen and Mercury that night was the fact that Gary Mullens and The Works left the stage in the middle of "Bohemian Rhapsody," while a recording played the legendary band's signature operatic verse.

By the end of the show, my skepticism had all but disappeared. Instead of wondering if I could really buy what they were selling, I was on my feet, clapping, dancing and swaying with nearly everyone else in the audience.

Gary Mullen had convinced me that he was the only one who could come close to the brilliance of Freddie Mercury.


-- Email the author at cgarcia@news-bulletin.com.