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Glimpse into the live tribute experience of Canada's premier Queen tribute, Simply Queen.

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Sep 3, 2019

There’s a certain integral moment in every tribute concert performance.

You know, it’s the one where audience members decide if they’re going to sit on their hands and simply take in the show or whether they will suspend disbelief just enough to truly let themselves go wild and celebrate the music of a great band with reckless abandon.

To be honest, in the early going of Simply Queen’s performance Monday night at the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre, it wasn’t entirely clear which way the pendulum would swing in that regard. Things were a little rough vocally, especially in the opening live snippet of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” And, let’s face it, Freddie Mercury’s take on that iconic song is an impossible standard to maintain and so deeply ingrained in everyone’s consciousness at this point, that any variation is going to be immediately noticeable.

But Simply Queen gradually won the crowd over and, sure enough, by mid-set a good percentage of the fans in attendance had pretty much lost their minds and inhibitions in the stellar tribute performance. And when singer Rick Rock went into the crowd during “Hammer to Fall,” and subsequently during “Somebody to Love,” to sing with a large group of frenzied youth (yes, and a few grownups), near the side at stage left, you would have thought you were witnessing the second coming of Mercury himself judging by the group’s raucous reaction.

That’s the type of response which makes tribute shows fun. And that level of reaction isn’t just freely given. It has to be earned. And from that point on, Simply Queen could simply do no wrong. The second half of the set and encores brought complete jubilation, with fans dancing and singing in the aisles, and soaking up every note from a catalog of music which has been so sparingly experienced live in Utah.

“The kids are pooping me out out here,” Rock said after returning to the stage following one of the aforementioned in-audience singalongs, prompting guitarist Bob Wegner to refer to the over-the-top youth group as the Queen Children’s Choir.

Simply Queen delivered some great songs in the early going, especially riff-based rockers like “Keep Yourself Alive” and “Tie Your Mother Down.” A three-song medley of “Killer Queen,” “Bicycle Race” and “I’m in Love With My Car” was a nice nod to the mothership, as Queen typically performs an extended medley in its own live shows.

Ironically, it was during “I’m in Love With My Car,” and drummer Phil Charrette’s very Roger Taylor-esque vocals that the audience tide began to noticeably shift. A great rendition of “Under Pressure,” featuring some fantastic singing by bassist Mitch Taylor on the David Bowie lines, also pushed the momentum forward.

A three-song acoustic set was also a tip of the hat to the Queen live experience, especially with solid performances of “Love of My Life” and “39,” the latter of which sounded especially stellar with the full band backing vocal harmonies.

Another factor which works in the favor of tribute bands is the ability to slip in a few surprise deep cuts that the real artists rarely have time for in their own acts. Two such numbers on Monday were “Dreamer’s Ball” and “Fight From the Inside.”

As for the believability factor, the main onus rested primarily with Rock’s Mercury impersonation and Wegner’s portrayal of guitarist Brian May. Both musicians clearly delivered in this regard. Tapping into a Mercurial state of mind, Rock switched outfits numerous times, and each time brought with it immediately recognizable wardrobe functions. Some favorites included Mercury’s faux yellow leather jacket (complete with complementary white pants with red and gold stripes, and three-striped Adidas) from Queen’s Wembley Stadium show in 1986, black leather jacket with biker hat, crown and cape, and his blue jeans/white tank T/arm band outfit from Live Aid — which everyone now recognizes thanks to the film “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Wegner was impeccable on guitar (a Red Special copy), and when he spoke and sang, he was able to channel that distinct May timbre. I also enjoyed how he would sometimes half jog from the back of the stage to the microphone, mimicking May’s distinct live gait.

Other highlights in the second half of the performance included “Don’t Stop Me Now,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “I Want to Break Free” and a truly epic rendition of “The Show Must Go On,” which really highlighted the full band’s vocal prowess.

Simply Queen treated its encore turn as a mini-Live Aid recreation, performing mostly the same songs — “Bo-Rhap,” “Radio Gaga,” “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions” — with Rock matching Mercury’s outfit exactly. To be sure, the music must be there — but it’s often the attention to detail that also really elevates a tribute show.

All in all, fans seemed to take their cue from the lyrics of “Don’t Stop Me Now” by having such a good time, and having a ball as Simply Queen proved to be a fun and exhilarating close to the summer season at the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theater.

Check out Simply Queen’s setlist from the SCERA here.

Source: Daily Herald

September 29, 2019

The last band I’d like to call out is Simply Queen, a tribute to – yes, you guessed it – Queen. This Canadian band, which has been around for 15 years, features Rick Rock (as Freddie Mercury), Bob Wegner (as Brian May), Phil Charrette (as Roger Taylor) and Mitch Taylor (as John Deacon). Despite some technical issues they seemed to have, especially in the beginning, Simply Queen put on a great show. It was quite obvious that Rock and Wegner have closely studied Mercury and May, respectively, beyond the music to mimic their onstage personas. So similar to the Glimmer Twins and also TUSK, Simply Queen is an audio-visual experience. While they mostly perform in Canada, they venture out to the U.S. fairly frequently. For more information and their schedule, visit their website. Here’s a nice rocker called It’s Late. Written by Brian May, the song is from News of the World, Queen’s sixth studio album released in October 1977.

December 6, 2018

Making quality music is tough – it requires talent, time, and in most cases technological expertise.  This can be a major roadblock for YouTubers, filmmakers, video game designers, coffee shop singers, music producers, and many others.  To help accelerate the process – AIVA – a Luxembourg-based company has developed a tool that can help musicians and creators more easily compose new music.
 

Using deep learning and NVIDIA GPUs, AIVA can automatically generate elements of a song.
 

“AIVA is an artificial intelligence that has learned the art of music composition by reading over 30,000 scores of the world’s greatest composers,” said Pierre Barreau, the company’s founder and CEO.
 

Even though the tool can create complete instrumental tracks, Barreau says AIVA was not designed to eliminate people from the creative process.
 

“Instead of having a blank sheet of paper, musicians can generate ten different tracks and build on them,” he explained. “Now you can generate hundreds of ideas and spend your time improving that idea.”
 

To show the AI community just how powerful this tool can be – NVIDIA collaborated with AIVA in creating a brand new track inspired by the legendary Queen band.
 

From “Bohemian Rhapsody” to “We are the Champions” to “We Will Rock You”  – Queen has produced some of the most diverse and eclectic rock tracks the world has ever heard. The NVIDIA team thought it would be fitting to show the world’s top AI researchers how AI can generate a song that resembles the legendary band.
 

The new track called “Change the World” premiered at an NVIDIA reception in Montreal, Canada this week during the world-renowned NeurIPS AI conference.
 

Using NVIDIA TITAN GPUs, developers from AIVA trained a deep neural network on hundreds of rock music tracks from a variety of artists. During training, the neural network learned to mimic the unique elements of a song such as melodies, guitar chords, bass lines, instruments, tempo, and the many other elements of a track. The team used a combination of convolutional neural networks and recurrent neural networks.
 

“For this particular track we looked at 80’s progressive rock from bands like AC/DC, Queen, Judas Priest, and Pink Floyd as well,” said Barreau. “All of those bands, some of their most iconic pieces have a very distinctive groove and this is the element that we wanted to emulate with this new song.”

The team then re-trained the neural network on 52 tracks from Queen for the algorithm to develop a bias for Queen’s music.  The neural network then generated the first elements of the song in the MIDI format, an electronic file that allows creators to easily make modifications to a song using computer software.
 

To help organize the elements of the new track – NVIDIA enlisted the help of a resident sound designer and Queen cover band Simply Queen to put all of the pieces the AI generated – as well as human craftsmanship including the lyrics – together into one song.
 

The NVIDIA team worked closely with AIVA on refining the training data and the primary influences of the neural network to more closely resemble a Queen song.
 

“We’re quite satisfied with the composition that AIVA helped create,” said Barreau.  “As we demonstrated in this collaboration – AIVA is not supposed to be something that replaces human creativity, it’s designed to help musicians” he added.
 

Creators looking to use the AI tool to accelerate their work can sign up for beta access to the online-based application today.

Queen cover band hosts fundraiser for Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission

January 30, 2018

Simply Queen will perform Feb. 2 at the Caboto Club in Windsor. Doors open at 7 p.m. The show starts at 8 p.m.

Money raised will help the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission support families in need of food and other essentials over the winter.


Tickets are $20 in advance or $30 at the door. They are available online at www.ticketscene.ca . Tickets can also be purchased in person at the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission at 298 Victoria St. S. in Amherstburg, or the Bod-E-Tone Kiosk in Windosr’s Central Mall in Windsor 3675 Tecumseh Rd. E.


Organizers are also looking for sponsors to offer merchandise, gift certificates or other items of a silent auction.

Source: Windsor Star

Local musician planning concert to benefit Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission

January 16, 2018

The music of Rick Rock is known throughout Amherstburg and surrounding areas and he will be using his music to give back to a local charity Feb. 2.


Rockworld and Showtime Productions will be presenting the “Simply Queen” live tribute concert at the Caboto Club in Windsor as a fundraiser for the Amherstburg Food & Fellowship Mission. Rock is one of the promoters of the concert and will be performing as Freddie Mercury at the show.


“Even though the concert is in Windsor, I want to take care of the mission in Amherstburg,” said Rock. “I have a special place in my heart for Amherstburg and for the people here. I love Amherstburg. I feel it’s the pearl of Essex County.”


Between ticket sales, a silent auction and any further donations, Rock is hopeful of raising anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 for the mission. Donations of canned goods and non-perishable food items will also be welcome.


Rock said if they get 400-500 people at the concert, “we’re happy,” but clearly wouldn’t mind if they topped that.

“If we get more, that would be dandy,” he said.
 

We Will Rock Blue!

February 28, 2014

We Will Rock Blue! is the latest blue-themed fundraiser for Autism Ontario Windsor Essex.

"It will be fun for everyone. It will be some awesome to get our kids involved and this will draw major attention to autism and the Windsor Essex Chapter", Autism Ontario staff member Shirley Harshaw says.

The concert We Will Rock Blue! features North America's leading Queen tribute show, Simply Queen.

Source: Riverside Shoreline

Simply Queen Rocks the Capitol

October 2, 2013

Freddie Mercury impersonator Rick Rock of the Simply Queen tribute band performed at the St. Clair College Capitol Theatre on Sept. 28 to a packed crowd of Queen fans.

The concert raised approximately $17,000 for the Children’s Treatment Centre of Chatham-Kent.

 

A portion of the funds raised will go to the CK Kids Can’t Wait urgent needs campaign in support of programming and equipment required at the centre.

Photo by Marcie Cervantes  © MyBayCity.com

Definitely not a 'simple' performance

July 25, 2013

Simply Queen came to rock us in Bay City thanks to the Bay Arts Council. 

This live tribute band is recognized as North America's top Queen tribute act. Rick Rock is the Freddie Mercury impersonator, and guarantees a mind-blowing revival of iconic songs made by Queen. Greg Hawco on drums is a successful composer, Mark Yannetta on bass is part of the 'Classic Albums Live' on theatre, and Bob Wegner was hand-picked by Queen's Brian May and Roger Taylor to play guitar for the "We Will Rock You" musical in Toronto. 

Source: My Bay City

Queen tribute band plays fundraiser at Regent Theatre

February 12, 2013

Performing classic tracks from the rock band Queen, the band's concert is in aid of a few causes, including the Ajax Football Club's Helping All Kids Play program.

The band is fronted by Freddie Mercury impersonator extraordinaire, Rick Rock, along with Bob Wegner, Greg Hawco, and Mark Yannetta.

Guitarist Bob Wegner was hand-picked by Queen's Brian May and Roger Taylor to play guitar in the We Will Rock You musical in Toronto.

Source: Durham Region