Nearly 2,000 people packed the gardens of the Nerja Caves on Friday night to see Queen tribute band, God Save the Queen, from Brits on holiday and long-term residents to Spanish Queen fans.
A 40-minute delayed start had the impatient audience bursting into spontaneous renditions of We Will Rock You and whooping and booing every time a technician appeared on stage to check the sound and instruments. By the time Pablo Padin as Freddie Mercury had come on to the stage, some had already gone off to the bar. The reason for the delay wasn’t explained. Maybe by impersonating someone for long enough you fall into character and they regularly keep their fans waiting. However, from the first song, appropriately, We Will Rock You, it was clear to see why critics have praised Padin for his impersonation of the rock legend.
I never had the privilege to see Queen live, so I don't know how the tribute act compares with real thing; despite a clear memory of THAT Live Aid performance in 1986, as a nine-year-old, I really discovered Queen about one month before Mercury died in November 1991. Bad timing.
I was a bit sceptical of the band being Argentinian initially, simply because I wondered whether they would have accents when they sung. I needn’t have feared. Not only does Pablo Padin have an amazing voice (not quite Freddie, but impressive nonetheless), all of the members looked (at least from a distance) similar to Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon, although it is fair to say that Padin doesn’t have Freddie’s teeth.
We Will Rock You was followed by Another One Bites the Dust, Somebody to Love, Fat Bottomed Girls, Killer Queen, Under Pressure and Love of My Life. But it wasn’t until the first notes of Bohemian Rhapsody that people finally got out of their seats and started dancing.
During Radio Gaga everyone continued standing, as they did for Crazy Little Thing Called Love, We Are The Champions and We Will Rock You, naturally complete with the appropriate hand clapping.
I had dreamt of being in a place with thousands of people doing the double clap and putting their arms up to that song ever since 1992 when my friend Catherine’s mum drove us to Wembley Arena to see Extreme in concert and we were doing it half way to London in the back of the car. Amazingly Brian May actually made a surprise appearance at the concert. That’s the closest I’ve ever got to one of my all-time favourite bands.
A brief pre-recorded version of God Save The Queen with ‘Mercury’ coming onto the stage complete with regal robe and crown and they were gone, just as the audience were livening up. They came back for one encore with I Want to Break Free; this time with Padin wearing an identical outfit of white vest and light blue jeans, complete with studded arm cuff, just like the real Freddie Mercury did for that historical Live Aid performance. And then at 11:50pm, they disappeared off the stage for the last time. The performance was short but sweet.
Karen and Richard Cox, from Lincolnshire, who were on holiday in Nerja said that the concert was “great,” but wished “it had been longer”. They said they regret having never seen Queen but that they are both big fans and that it was “a bonus” that the tribute band was playing while they were in the town.
As I made my way back to the car I overheard a group of young Spanish people listing the songs the band didn’t play and others also complaining about the length of the performance.
Tickets were not cheap for the concert and while it would be impossible to perform all of Queen’s hits in one concert, I am quite sure that the original band would have given fans better value for money.