Queen and U2 Tribute Bands Rock Middle River
@ Wild Duck Cafe
3408 Red Rose Farm Rd, Middle River, MD
September 4, 2010
Thanks to Scott Huffines for alerting me to this show in neighboring ‘hood of Middle River. He knew my GF Amy is a Killer Queen fanatic, but she was far from alone, as most of the Greater Essex Queen royalists turned out for the concert (as shown below).
Amy and I were already psyched to see Almost Queen because the night before we had an unlikely Queen teaser when we went to the Charles Theatre to see Christian Carion’s new French thriller, Farewell. You see, this excellent ’80s Cold War-era story of French-Soviet espionage (based on true events), and starring two noted directors as the protagonists – Guillame Canet (Tell No One) and Emir Kusturica (Underground) – featured Queen prominantly in its plot. The Soviet mole risks his life to get Queen tapes for his son – and Queen clips pop up during his son’s rock and roll fantasies. Call it fate, we were destined to see Almost Queen!
But first, we saw a tribute band claiming to be from Ireland…by way of New York!
U2 tribute band 2U opened the night’s rock star simulation at a little after 7 o’clock – the start of a beautiful day. These four Long Island, NY guys – founder Joseph Cuma as The Edge, Gene Marchello as Bono, Denis Perry as Adam Clayon, and Tim Bellew as Larry Mullen, Jr. – were spot on and really had the chicks dancing up a storm! They certainly live up to their billing as “the world’s 2nd best U2 show” and Kelly Johnson has even made a film about them called The 2U Chronicles (see trailer here).
Watch 2U – “It’s a Beautiful Day”
2U perform “It’s a Beautiful Day” to kick off their September 4, 2010 show opening for Almost Queen at the Wild Duck Cafe in Middle River, Maryland.
Watch 2U – “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”
The camera is zoomed in on this crazy chick who kept pulling total strangers out of the crowd to dance with her, mostly middle-aged men (either too timid to deny her or thinking she was Rohypnol-primed). All I know is she totally blew by me and Scott Huffines (are we that domesticated?) and made a beeline for my girlfriend Amy, and then for Benny and Tim Finnerty next to me who may have looked single to the gal because they weren’t there with their wives. “No, that’s OK, I’m good,” Tim protested as the girl yanked his arms. “Don’t worry Tim,” I said, “I got my camera ready to upload to YouTube if you change your mind, so your wife can see you having a good time!” He rolled his eyes.
Later she grabbed the mic and asked everybody to stand up and dance with her, although the embarrassed Bono clone singer pipped, “That’s OK, if I didn’t have to stand up here, I wouldn’t be standing either. You all can sit down.” I wonder if tribute bands get tribute groupies? Where does the simulated experience end? (Oh yeah, when you see Bono carrying amps off the stage afterwards, it’s a pretty safe bet it’s the Almost Bono!) Here’s hoping the crazed maenad chick found what she was looking for…
Watch 2U – “Vertigo” (Bon Jovi Version)
I like the way 2U slipped some Bon Jovi into their version of “Vertigo” – and I think the little girls understand! They also dropped Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” into their rendition of “One” when “Bono” invoked the spirit of Steve Perry to sing “Just a small town girl, livin’ in a lonely world, she took the midnight train goin’ anywhere…” As Scott pointed out, this was not the first time liberties had been taken with u2’s “One,” as any Ben Stiller fan will remember the comedian’s Lucky Charms cereal spoof “Bono for Lucky Clovers” (“Have you had your breakfast? Why not try the best? I’m talking about Lucky Clovers. Why don’t you put them to the test?”)
Then at a little after 9 p.m., 2U’s pals Almost Queen hit the stage for a medley of greatest hits, as well as some unexpected lesser-known treats. The band – Broadway stage veteran Joseph Russo as Freddie Mercury, Randy Gregg as John Deacon, John Cappadona as Roger Taylor, and Steve Leonard as Brian May – has been described by Howard Stern as being “even better than the Queen that’s out there touring.” (Amy would like that quote, since she’s not a Paul Rogers fan!)
Kudos to Tim Finnerty (above left), by the way, for correctly identifying the Almost Queen bass player as Randy Gregg (above right) – formerly of Washington, DC metal band Angel (a band discovered by KISS bassist Gene Simmons and later signed to KISS’s Casablanca record label – no wonder KISS fanatic Tim knew!). Good bass player but, alas, as far as willing-suspension-of-disbelief goes, couldn’t buy him as Queen’s token dork John Deacon – he was far too cool-rockstar-looking to pull off a good JD impression.
Watch Almost Queen – “We Will Rock You”
Watch Almost Queen – “Let Me Entertain You”
Watch Almost Queen – “Death On Two Legs/I’m in Love with My Car”
Watch Almost Queen – “Dragon Attack”
Watch Almost Queen – “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”
Watch Almost Queen – “Killer Queen”
I love how the crowd sang, played air guitar and flailed their hands orchestrating the soaring harmonies during Almost Queen’s “Somebody To Love,” especially this big fella in front of me who played air guitar and gesticalated wildly throughout the night like a Pentacostal speaking in tongues. Good times…
Watch Almost Queen – “Somebody To Love”
Almost Queen closed out their show by reminding everyone that it was Freddie Mercury’s birthday the next day, September 5. He would have been 64.
In honor of the birthday boy, Scott and I posed with the next best thing, Almost Queen singer Joseph Russo.