A Kind of Magic: Gary Mullen as Freddie Mercury. *Photo supplied
A Kind of Magic: Gary Mullen as Freddie Mercury. *Photo supplied

The Bermuda Festival is almost coming to an end but it is certainly going to go out with a bang.

Gary Mullen and his band bring an explosive tribute Queen at the Fairmont Southampton Resort to close the festival that has run for over two months.

The festival had to put on an extra performance due to popular demand — the first show is tomorrow evening at 8:30pm then there are performances on Friday and Saturday night at the same time.

Mullen shot to fame when he won the hugely popular TV talent show Stars In Their Eyes in 2000 with his impression of lead singer Freddie Mercury. Since then the former computer salesman has been living like a champion, travelling the world paying tribute to his childhood idol. He spoke to the Bermuda Sun about his upcoming show. 


 

Why Queen?

I’ve always been a Queen fan — all my life. It was the band I got in to first. It’s just Freddie Mercury’s voice and the whole showmanship that they put on — they are a very bombastic band very visual and for I collected all the albums, CDS, posters and magazines.

How did your life change after you won Stars In Their Eyes?

I was 26 when I won Stars in Their Eyes — that was when I really went from being a computer salesman to going out on tour. I won the final in 2,000. There was nobody more surprised than me. Agents started to contact me, people wanting me to do spots in discos and nightclubs. It went from that to me quitting my job — I’d no idea how to react to an audience.  You just try and learn as you go along. I am turning 40 this year and I’m having an absolute ball.

When did you first get into music?

I just used to play in local bands with friends and play the Glasgow gig circuit. We played our own material. We were young and stupid and wanted to be rock stars.

How did you prepare yourself to become Freddie?

As a kid I did the hairbrush thing in the bedroom prancing around to songs. That’s all fine and well until you have to transfer it on to a stage in front of a live audience. I started looking back at footage of concerts of Freddie, you know, how he moved and how he would carry himself and the little nuances in his voice.

How close is the show to the real thing?

You are never going to see Queen with Freddie again. That moment in time we will never see again. We are trying to take people back to that moment when Queen were at their absolute peak with their concert ready anthems. That is the whole idea behind the show. We come out all guns blazing and I think it scares the crap out of people because they think they are coming to a musical and we come out roaring. After a couple of songs they realize they can get up and dance and let their hair down.

If they want to sing, clap their hands, head bang, we are completely cool with that. When that happens, you feed of the energy of the audience. It gives you adrenaline a boost.

What gig stands out in your memory?

The BBC Proms in the Park in 2003 in front of 43,000 people. It was amazing to hear 40,000 people to clap their hands to Radio gaga — I thought wow, this is what Freddie must have felt like!

Have you ever had any formal training?

Only now have I started formal training as our tour schedule gets more and more grilling. We have a very busy schedule as the popularity has increased. My voice was getting tired so they teach you how to maintain your voice and warm up to make sure I can sing with the same power and consistently night after night.

What songs can we expect on the night?

We have changed the set this year. We’ve got some new stuff this year we’ve got a nice new medley with a couple of songs that people wont expect to hear. We’ve still got things like We Will Rock You, We Are The Champions and Bohemian Rhapsody but that is all I’m saying. The rest is a complete secret. It is a strong set — the whole set is like a steam train it just goes bang, bang, bang all the way through. We have songs right throughout his career — it’s like having a Queen duke box in your home.

Will you be playing It’s A Kind of Magic?

I have to do that one because that’s the one that I did on the TV show. I always do it because people will have Youtubed me and they will have seen me performing that song.

Is there anything you miss about your old days as a computer salesman?

I have a good circle of friends and a great family and I miss just being able to call my friends on a Friday night and say ‘hey do you want to go for a beer?’ as I always have a gig at the weekends. When I do come back home we meet up and its like we never left. Everyday I Skype home and speak to my wife and kids. I’ve missed weddings and funerals and anniversaries. But then I do get to travel the world and when it’s show time – the adrenaline kicks in and that’s the moment that everything kicks in to place and you think yes, this is why we do it.

Visit http://bdatix.bm or http://bermudafestival.org for tickets. Tickets are $70 for adults and $25 for students.