JOHN LAWSON Norwich Theatre Royal
Credit where it's due. At the interval, I was already sharpening my knife to plunge into the heart of another tribute band who dared to try to emulate the incomparable Freddie Mercury and Queen.
But then The Royal Family burst back on to the stage with a great One Vision and the evening was transformed.
It was almost like a soccer team stung into action by its manager's half-time team talk.
Suddenly, everything that had been missing in that first half was being served up.
Guitar riffs from “Brian May” suddenly had bite, harmonies appeared and “Freddie” found the best of a voice which had been heard only fleetingly up to then.
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The gig appeared irretriev-able when Killer Queen and Bohemian Rhapsody petered out disappointingly, but the boys lifted the audience out of their seats with one great interpretation after another, culminating in Radio Ga-Ga, We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions.
The “symphonic” part of the evening, Stephen Roberts' 20-piece orchestra, fared less well and must at times have wondered why they bothered to show up.
They were frequently left so far back in the mix that the string section in particular was all but inaudible, sawing away to minimal effect – and even when they did break free managed only a thin, reedy sound.
They were rescued by a strident horn section, but in truth, all 20 of them could have been replaced by a decent keyboard for a fraction of the cost.