Roger Taylor will bring Queen Extravaganza tribute show to North America this summer

Drummer Roger Taylor is bringing the Queen Extravaganza stateside, serving as producer and musical director for his band’s official tribute show.

The Queen Extravaganza concerts feature five musicians (two guitars, bass, drums and keyboards) and four vocalists, hired after a series of Internet auditions, performing nearly 40 Queen songs over a two-hour period. Taylor says fans can expect both classic hits and lesser-known album cuts. Among the featured performers: Vocalists Marc Martel, Jennifer Espinoza, Yvan Pedneault and Jeff Scott Soto; bassist Francois Olivier Doyon; guitarists Brian Gresh and Tristan Avakian; drummer Tyler Warren and Brandon Ethridge, who serves as keyboardist and musical director.

Taylor says the idea is to the create the ultimate Queen concert experience by combining the band’s rich musical legacy with some of today’s best new musical talent. Complete tour dates, cities and venues are below.

[SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: We dig into Queen favorites like "Under Pressure," "Spread Your Wings" and "Stone Cold Crazy," then return for spins of "You're My Best Friend," "Ogre Battle" and "Flash".]

“The Queen Extravaganza will not be like a traditional tribute show,” Taylor says. “It is a brand new show specially designed to enable these new fans, together with fans of old, to celebrate the music of Queen in a heart-stopping event.”

In other concert news, Taylor and guitarist Brian May were set to appear as Queen at the 2012 Sonisphere Festival, among other stops in a limited concert run, with Adam Lambert taking over vocals for Freddie Mercury. But that festival was unexpectedly canceled today.

“It is with very heavy hearts and much regret that we announce the cancellation of Sonisphere Knebworth 2012,” Queen said in a statement on its Web site.

As for the the Queen Extravaganza, never-before-seen video of Queen will be part of the visual presentation behind stage, a project led by stage designer Mark Fisher, who worked on Pink Floyd’s legendary tour in support of The Wall, as well as each of the Rolling Stones tours since 1989′s Steel Wheels.

“It’s going to be very spectacular, it’s going to be very visual, there are going to be some shocks and some tremendous surprises,” Taylor says. “It will be a rock celebration in the Royal tradition.”

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Queen. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

QUEEN – DAYS OF OUR LIVES DVD (2012): As this sprawling new documentary makes clear, Queen knew — and from the very beginning — that they were on to something. That it took everyone else so long to notice only seemed to spark them to greater heights of genre-jumping, expectation-confounding genius. Because of the way that they had built their own legacy, Queen didn’t have a working template to get trapped in. “They were very opened minded, Queen audiences,” May adds. “We never felt constrained.”

ONE TRACK MIND: TANGERINE DREAM WITH BRIAN MAY, “STAR SOUNDS” (2011): You suspected, just from listening to his wildly inventive work with Queen, that there was little guitarist Brian May couldn’t do. This live collaboration with space-music pioneer Edgar Froese’s Tangerine Dream confirms it. Sure, May has a well-known interest in the cosmos and its exploration, having earned a doctorate degree in astrophysics. But, for all of the many styles that May has excelled at over the years, for all of the times he’s played completely in service of the song — showing such great flamboyance, then such sharp-edged restraint — I still didn’t know what to expect once that famously bushy mane was dropped in amidst this kind of long-form, open-ended improvisational music. We will, we will … space you?

ONE TRACK MIND: QUEEN + PAUL RODGERS, “SAY IT’S NOT TRUE” (2007): “Say It’s Not True” originally appeared on the group’s 2005 live album, Return of the Champions, in a more stripped-down acoustic form sung by Roger Taylor. This version, however, is a much more embellished studio recording with Brian May and Paul Rodgers contributing significantly. Otherwise, it’s a very typical charity song: The lyrics were a bit trite and obvious; the melody was also a bit simplistic. It felt like something we’d heard a million times before. Yet, while there were no real surprises in store, it managed to invoke some of the magic of Queen: It builds at just the right moment into a glorious power ballad.

Here are the 2012 North American ‘Queen Extravaganza’ tour dates, cities and venues:
5/26 – Grand Theatre du Quebec, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
5/27 – St. Denis, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
5/29 – QE Theatre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
5/31 – Fox Theatre, Detroit, Mich.
6/1 – House of Blues, Chicago, Ill.
6/2 – The Brick, Minneapolis, Minn.
6/5 – The Pageant, St. Louis, Mo.
6/7 – Theatre of Living Arts, Philadelphia, Pa.
6/8 – 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C.
6/9 – Oakdale, Wallingford, Ct.
6/10 – Event Center, Bethlehem, Pa.
6/11 – House of Blues, Boston, Mass.
6/12 – Paramount Theatre, Huntington, N.Y.
6/15 – Louis Lykes Ferguson Hall, Tampa, Fla.
6/17 – The Plaza Live, Orlando, Fla.
6/19 – Grand Prarie, Dallas, Texas
6/20 – House of Blues, Houston, Texas
6/23 – House of Blues, Las Vegas, Nev.
6/24 – Humphrey’s, San Diego, Calif.
6/25 – Club Nokia, Los Angeles, Calif.
6/26 – Regency, San Francisco, Calif.
6/28 – Showbox, Seattle, Wash.
6/30 – Orpheum, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
7/2 – Jack Singer, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
7/3 – Jubilee, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.