By Leah Sasges
Flashback to 1992: a little girl sits silently in a movie theatre, quietly nibbling away at her kiddie combo. Garth and Wayne begin to sing along with a car stereo “I see a little silhouetto of a man/Scaramouche, scaramouche will you do the fandango?/Thunderbolts and lightning very very frightening me.” It’s like a chorus of angels, she thinks. The dirty metal-head, still lives in their parents’ basement kind, but angels none the less. Who sings this? She leans over to her cousin for an answer. Queen, he replies, and she is in love.
Listening to recorded music is like the taste test Baskin Robins gives you on that tiny little pink spoon. It gives you a hint of what’s to come, but never really delivers. Live music gives you the whole cone, every delightful lick. Too bad the little girl from our story will only ever get to listen to recordings of her newly beloved, for Freddie Mercury, like some of our favourite flavours, is no longer with us.
Enter Queen–It’s a Kinda Magic, composed of Craig Pescos (as Freddie Mercury), Colin Hill (as Brian May), Brett Millican (as Roger Taylor) and Sean Nolan (as John Deacon).
On tour with them is Peter Freestone, who started as the guy taking care of stage costumes for Queen then ended up as Freddie’s personal assistant. Having toured extensively with the original band, he can offer up some insight as to why It’s a Kinda Magic is not just one of the many throngs of Queen cover bands.
“What we do with It’s a Kinda Magic is give you the nearest you’re going to get nowadays to what the lucky people who saw Queen live in the ’80s got,” Freestone explains. “They give a full sound, amazing live show, it’s all aspects of the real Queen. You can buy a DVD, you can buy CDs, but you’ll never get that live atmosphere. It’s that wow factor.”
Freestone isn’t exaggerating, the show really is as true to the source material as possible. One of the definite highlights is Craig Pescos’ passionate performance as Freddie.
“He is a huge Freddie fan, he has more DVD and video footage than I’ve ever seen,” he explains. “He comes on the stage, the movements, voice, eveything, it’s there. People who have seen Queen live in the ’80s are amazed at how acurate Craig’s performance is. He keeps Freddie on the stage, he becomes him on the stage, he does not try to be what he thinks Freddie might have been like offstage.”
However much the rockstar onstage, Pesco leaves the prima-donna bit under the blazing lights. Freddie’s adventures have reached a legendary status but don’t expect Pescos to try to re-enact any of the zanier escapades Freestone was subject to as the star’s assistant. Thinking back on his time with the star Freestone laughs and launches into a tale.
“When Freddie was living in New York he was making advances towards this one young man, and he kept saying no, no, no,” Freestone recounts. “Then we went on tour in Venezuela and Freddie met this other young man that he took a fancy to there, Eduardo. Freddie asked if he would like to meet him in New York in a couple weeks and he [Eduardo] accepted. Eduardo worked all morning and in the afternoon hopped a plane to New York, I gathered him from the airport and took him to the hotel. He was so tired from the journey, poor fellow, that he just went to sleep. Freddie and I went out for some drinks and, would you have it, ran into the first fellow from New York. All three of us went up to the suite where Eduardo was sound asleep. Freddie and the man from New York hid in the kitchen while I went and woke up Eduardo and said ‘I’m so sorry about this, but Freddie has gone out of town, I’ll have to take you back to the airport.’ So I gathered his things and took him right back to the airport, and booked him a plane, round four in the a.m.”
Freddie Mercury, sex, and covered rock and roll.