Friday Night Classics: Queen: A Rock and Symphonic Spectacular

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Friday 27th March 2015 at 7.30pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121 345 0600

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Richard Sidwell  conductor
Jenna Lee James  vocalist
Ricardo Afonso  vocalist
Julie Stark  vocalist
Oliver Tompsett  vocalist
Andrew Wyke  executive producer

Sidwell – Overture

Mercury / May – Seven Seas of Rhye

Deacon – I Want To Break Free

Mercury – Play The Game

Queen / Bowie – Under Pressure

Mercury – Killer Queen

Tyler – Radio Ga Ga

Mercury Love Of My Life

Tyler – These Are The Days Of Our Lives

May – Tie Your Mother Down

May – Fat Bottomed Girls

May – I Want It All

Tyler – One Vision



Mercury / May – Innuendo

May – Who Wants To Live Forever

May – Hammer To Fall

Taylor – A Kind Of Magic

May – The Show Must Go On

Mercury – Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Mercury – Don’t Stop Me Now

Deacon – Another One Bites The Dust

Mercury – Somebody To Love

Mercury – Bohemian Rhapsody

encores – May – We Will Rock You,  Mercury – We Are The Champions

It’s a kind of magic – big, brash, and fabulously larger than life, the music of Queen was simply made for a symphony orchestra. This sensational full orchestral spectacular unleashes Queen’s greatest hits like you’ve never heard them before. We Will Rock You? With guest vocalists from the hit musical, you’d better believe it!


Review by Bonnie Britain, LondonTheatre1:

Click here for full review

…     “As the 50 piece strong orchestra walk on we could see we are in for an extraordinary fun night. All the members are dressed up in tributes to Freddie and Queen. The front row brass section catching our eye first making us chuckle, a man with facemask of Freddie (who kept it on all way through the concert), a man in Flash Gordon attire, and a man in drag in full costume from the ‘I Want To Break Free’ video. What an effort! As Jenna mentioned later on in the concert, just going to show CBSO are “one of the most Eccentric Orchestras there is”. It was hard to spot the females of the band too as most were wearing ‘tashes and kudos to them for keeping them stuck on while blowing and playing away.

For me the songs most suited to the balance of the Rock Band, Orchestra and vocalist were Innuendo – with an amazing musical bridge; Killer Queen, which sounded fantastic with the strings and guitars complimenting each, creating more of a big band feel to the song; Radio Ga ga – which the crowd all clapped along to Queen style; One Vison with Oliver Tompsett and Ricardo on vocals; The Show must go on – which may have brought a tear to my eye as it was so full of passion; Hammer To Fall was the most fun to watch with the most resemblance to the way it was performed in WWRY with Jenna and Oliver perfectly mimicking each other on stage.

Oliver Tompsett borrowed the hoover for a prance around the stage while he sang “I Want to Break Free”, which was very funny. But maybe they should have got the vocalists to dress up too. I’m sure Oliver Tompsett’s long legs would look fantastic in a short leather skirt. – sorry Oliver. The Girls brought back girl power as they belted out “I want it all”. We also had big ballads – there sure was something for everyone.”     …



Review by Paul Marston, BehindTheArras:

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HAS anyone ever seen or heard the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra like this? I doubt it.

Many of the usually immaculately dressed musicians were in flamboyant costumes, with red, blue, black or pink wigs. One female in the string section had a false moustache and a male violinist wore a mini skirt.

A footnote in the official programme promised they would ‘unleash Queen’s greatest hits like you’ve never heard them before’. And so it proved.

The CBSO performed the rock music superbly, helped by three top guitarists and a brilliant drummer front of stage, and the four vocalists – Jenna Lee-James, Julie Stark, Ricardo Afonso and Oliver Tompsett – delivered the quality expected from stars of London’s smash-hit musical, We Will Rock You.

Jenna, first to attract participation from the capacity audience withRadio Ga Ga, later praised ‘this incredible orchestra’ and, referring to their world tour, she thought the Symphony Hall was probably the best venue.”     …



Review by Sam Chipman, ThePublicReviews:

Click here for full review

…     “The CBSO string section is given its time to shine with Love of My Life and Play The Game, and they are the driving force behind The Show Must Go On the other side of the interval. The brass section have great fun with the introduction of Fat Bottomed Girls and remain an integral force throughout. Unfortunately, the woodwind section are too often drowned by the band, which is a shame as every now and then a glimpse of a flute or an oboe counter-melody would have added so much.

The four vocalists, who all performed in the hit West End musical We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre in London before it closed, know the songs inside out. They do not try to emulate Freddie Mercury, whose unique voice is synonymous with the numbers, but bring their own qualities and energy to the songs. Jenna Lee-James gives a very impressive rendition of Somebody to Love in which she really shows off her vocal range. Julie Stark’s interpretation of the rock style is bold, particularly in duet with Lee-James for I Want It All, but her cleaner vocals on Love of My Life are the most memorable. Ricardo Alfonso does justice to the incredibly difficult The Show Must Go On, his voice is extraordinarily agile, though he has a habit of clipping his notes and one would like to hear them honoured until the ends of phrases. Oliver Tompsett shows off his showmanship, his vivacious rendition of Don’t Stop Me Now being a particular crowd pleaser. Big songs, with big vocals – vocal rest and honey and lemon must be doctor’s order for the vocalists after this concert.”     …



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