Keeping it alive

Very few bands have made an impact on the music world like Queen has. After selling millions of albums and playing for an even greater number of fans, they have established themselves as a definitive rock icon.

Last Wednesday, at B.B. King’s Blues Club on 42nd Street, die-hard fans got to once again relive the phenomenon that is Queen….Almost.

Almost Queen is a New Jersey based quartet that features talented musicians portraying the members of Queen in an almost flawless manner.

Led by front man Joey Russo, his stage presence and attire is an uncanny resemblance to the late Freddie Mercury. Russo’s vocal talents send chills down the spine, as his ability to match Mercury’s ranges and mannerisms are completely accurate.

The “pound, pound, clap” of “We Will Rock You” chimed in just as people began eating their meals at the tables, and starting having their first drinks at the bar, and the crowd lit up.

They spiced up this classic with a much looser feel and a stunning extended guitar solo by Long Island’s guitar virtuoso Tom Cavanagh. Cavanagh, next to his ability to play Brian May’s classic riffs and solos, also resembles May in his early years.

Backing Russo and Cavanagh is bassist Greg Smith, of the Ted Nugent band, and drummer John Cappadona, a fierce percussionist with the ability to belt out the high toned vocals of Roger Taylor while drumming. His talents really shined through in songs like “I’m in Love With My Car,” which is sung by Cappadona just as it was sung by Taylor, and “Tie Your Mother Down.”

After the response to their intro song, it was evident that there were skeptics in the crowd as well as their normal cult-following of fans.

As the nearly two hour set continued, “Stone Cold Crazy” and “Keep Yourself Alive” really took the crowd for a ride and put the skepticism to rest, as they were preceded by unanimous acclaim. Russo then sat at the keyboard for “Don’t Stop Me Now,” “I Want to Break Free,” and “Under Pressure.”

“Under Pressure” is always a crowd pleaser because of the duel vocals performed by Russo and Cavanagh, whose low vocals mimic David Bowie’s, the original voice in the song. The climax of the night was undeniably “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Almost Queen’s performance was nothing short of epic. The syncopation of the instruments with Russo’s vocal power was heart-pounding, as the song built up to the famous “I see a little silhouette of a man,” and crashed into “so you think you can stone me and spit in my eyes,” as the pulsating energy from the crowd was electric.

After a well-deserved standing ovation, Russo came out in a queen’s crown and robe, as Mercury did at the close of almost every Queen show, and took a final bow.

The true fans of Queen appreciated the traditional mannerisms and accuracy of the performance and the first-timers would now be called fans of the band that truly deserve their title as Almost Queen.