Radio GaGa at Adelphi Theatre
A nostalgia-driven show, Radio GaGa centres around a tribute band that performs a best-of concert in the style of legendary Queen. Featuring everyone’s favourite hits, from We Will Rock You to I Want to Break Free and Bohemian Rhapsody, it’s a performance geared towards the fans. Despite some wonderful music by the band members, and Mark Sanders’s showmanship that demonstrates an ardent devotion to Freddie Mercury, the show suffers from one problem that cannot be overcome: they simply aren’t Queen.
Arguably part of the point is not to be a carbon copy. Radio GaGa is supposed to give the audience the feeling of being in a live performance of Queen, with all the lights, Mercury’s charisma and eccentric parades around the stage, and of course, their songs – and that’s precisely what they present.
But even if they’re not supposed to be Queen, it is impossible not to make the comparison. They are neither look-alikes nor sound-alikes – Sanders’s vocals are lower than Mercury’s, for starters, and nobody can top the original as it is; and the general sound of the band is slightly different. This isn’t meant to slight their skills as musicians, it’s simply that the inimitable Queen sound is so iconic and recognisable, that for all the nostalgic bliss that Radio GaGa produces, it simply leaves die-hard fans yearning for the original. Any audience enthusiasm is almost guaranteed from the start by resting on the shoulders of Queen.
But for all this negativity, it does need to be stressed that it’s a flaw in concept, not execution. The band does play and sing well; Sanders has great charisma and manages to impress with imitations of Mercury’s movements and mannerisms. He gets the audience to perform call-and-response acts as though it were nothing, and sing-along is practically given in almost every song. It’s a difficult feat to pull off, and he does it well.
So what one gets with Radio GaGa is a far cry from the sound or look of Queen. Rather, it plays into the desire to be surrounded by the same enthusiasm, performance and style that Queen were able to pull off at the height of their popularity. And in giving the audience precisely this – alongside Queen’s best hits – it’s the closest we can come to experiencing something that resembles what it must have been like seeing a live Queen concert.
Radio GaGa was at Adelphi Theatre on 14th November. For further information visit the theatre’s website here.