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With The Queen Extravaganza hitting the road next month and four concerts of their own with Adam Lambert, Queen’s Roger Taylor and Brian May are expecting to make a little news of the world this year.
First up, of course, is the Extravaganza, a tribute show conceived by Taylor and cast via a reality show talent competition. The production, designed by Mark Fisher (Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, U2), kicks off its first 25-date North American run on May 26 in Quebec, and Taylor tells Billboard.com that May is helping to get the production into gear.
“It was sort of my project at the beginning, but he’s very much behind it and he’s now climbed on board,” Taylor says. “So you have the entire clarity of what’s left of Queen, which is two people.” The duo plans to introduce the nine-member Extravaganza cast — whose four vocalists include Journey, Yngwie Malmsteen and Trans-Siberian Orchestra alumnus Jeff Scott Soto — on the April 25-26 episodes of American Idol before moving rehearsals from Los Angeles to Canada. Visit QueenExtravanganza.com for more info.
“It’s been a fascinating thing and a real stab in the dark, in a way,” Taylor says of the two-hour show, which will feature 40 songs from Queen’s catalog. “I’m trying to cram our entire career, in an encapsulated form, into one show — that’s why we have four lead singers, to cover that kind of breadth of material. There are a lot of other (tributes) going around representing our work; some of them are very good, but I wanted there to be a really great, first-class option. So we’ve formed our own sort of authorized band to play our canon…with all the things we can bring to bear — the film clips nobody’s ever seen and all the production tricks that we’ve accumulated over the years.”
Taylor plans to be on the road with the Extravaganza “for the first period of touring, fine-tuning it for the first number of shows.” But don’t look for him to climb behind the drum kit at all. “I think that’s not a good idea,” he explains. “It corrupts the idea in a way. It’d feel like giving it an artificial push, which I don’t think it’ll need. I want it to stand on its own. I think we’ve got a great band that’s more than capable of doing that.”
Besides, Taylor will be back in Queen mode come June and early July, when he and May play four planned shows with American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert, who they performed with during the 2009 “Idol” finals and at the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards. Though a July 7 Sonishphere date in the U.K. was canceled, the June 30 show in Moscow is still on, and Taylor says Queen and Lambert are also eyeballing a show with Elton John, though details have not been finalized. They’re also doing two early July shows at the Hammersmith Apollo to provide “some alternative… for some of the people who had bought tickets” to Sonisphere. Details for the other three dates will be announced soon.
“We’re really excited about it,” Taylor says. “Adam… of course he has this unbelievable range, like Freddie (Mercury) had range. Adam can really cover it. He’s an extraordinary singer and a real talent. I feel he fits into our sort of theatricality.” As for doing more with Lambert, Taylor says that “we’re just going to see what happens, how well it goes, how we get on.” He does acknowledge, however, that he and May have been approached to be part of the Summer Olympics closing ceremonies in London but adds that “I don’t think we’re meant to say too much about it yet.”
On Queen’s periphery, Taylor is also well aware of the viral video of an inebriated man under arrest in Canada singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” in the rear seat of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police car. “It’s very funny,” Taylor says, “and it’s had so many hits. Many millions of people have seen that guy. “I thought it was interesting, the fact he sang it right through to the end. I just wondered what he was on.”
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