Source: The Killer Queen Experience Facebook page
Calling all Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boys, Fat Bottomed Girls and Invisible Men of Brisbane: get ready to rock like it’s 1985 when The Killer Queen Experience returns to the Tivoli for one night only on Saturday 13th November.
The Queensland-based band, featuring John Blunt in the role of flamboyant frontman Freddie Mercury, has been a mainstay on the Australian and international scenes for two decades, perfecting the knack of celebrating the beloved British band’s legacy in style.
With a wealth of showbusiness experience under his belt, stepping into the yellow jacket came naturally to Blunt.
“I’ve always been a performer,” he says. “I’ve been involved in a lot of cover bands over the years. I worked at Movie World for several years; I performed the role of Roy Orbinson, Freddie Mercury and Elvis. In fact, I was the only male performer there who did three singing roles. From leaving there, I put together a show where myself and my band did a tribute to both Elvis and Queen, calling it ‘The King and Queen Show’. After a few years a lot of people said we did a great Elvis, but everybody does Elvis. So, we dropped Elvis and purely concentrated on doing Queen. We then started a full two-hour show with what we called Killer Queen.”
Getting into the mindset of one of the most admired and missed vocalists of all time has become a process all of its own for Blunt.
“I have a few rituals,” he says. “It’s basically all about getting into the changing room, looking into the mirror, putting on the make-up, realising what a fantastic team of musicians I have around me, and all of us falling into the groove. There’s laughter, there’s guitars. We go through harmonies, go through songs, and before you know it the costumes are on and I’m looking around the room, staring at what looks like Queen circa ’82 to ’85. Then I’m in full character and we’re ready to go on.”
After taking a COVID-related hit to its performing abilities over the past couple of years, the band has enjoyed a run of successful shows recently and is looking forward to rocking audiences all over Australia as soon as possible.
“We’ve been around for almost 20 years now,” Blunt says. “So we’re always getting contacted by promoters, venues and people putting on festivals. We’re always on the radar of people who are trying to put on shows; people who want to keep the industry going, even through the thickest of lockdowns. We’ve always been incredibly grateful for that, and I think that comes from being around for a long time and, without blowing my own trumpet, we definitely deliver the goods.”
The show is full of songs that fans have come to know and love since Queen’s formation in the early seventies, through to the end of the original line-up with Mercury’s death from complications related to AIDS in 1991.
“We used to think we were clever doing songs that were deep cuts,” Blunt says. “But when a paying audience member comes up after the show and says, ‘What was that song about spreading your wings?’ or ‘What was that about too much love will kill you?’, I’d find it interesting that they didn’t know those songs. We’ve now got a motto: stick to the hits. Two hours go by extremely quickly and we add new songs to the show. We don’t announce them on social media; people hear them when they turn up. We like to have little surprises here and there.”
So why see a tribute band playing songs of a group whose original line-up ended 30 years ago? It’s all in the way you approach it, Blunt says.
“These songs are the soundtracks of people’s lives,” Blunt says. “Tribute bands are able to bring back a little bit of that nostalgia. I’ve said this for 20 years: we know we’re not Queen. I don’t call myself Freddie Mercury or anything like that. What I want people to do is to come along and enjoy these wonderful songs that they got married to, celebrated their 21st birthdays to, danced to back in the ‘80s, and watched Queen on film clips and so forth. I want people to walk away thinking that they know that wasn’t Queen, but damn that was close, that was cool, and we enjoyed that. I’m always giving a little wink back to the audience to let them know that we on stage are having just as much fun as you guys are having. There’s only one Freddie Mercury; we’re not trying to replace him, and he doesn’t need our help to let his legacy live on. He’s practically immortal, so we’re just there having some fun with the crowd.”