Luke Das, Wednesday 11 July 2012
On the lawns of Nonsuch Park champagne is uncorked, hamper baskets are opened and blankets are laid before the main stage.
Events Officer Susannah Forland and her team from St Raphael’s Hospice diligently attend to their guests who are celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. As a tribute to the Queen they have invited a Queen tribute band to play a concert. Amongst the grand decor of the mansion the band prepares and I manage to sneak inside to catch up with them as make up and spandex is applied.
‘We were trying to make it as a band in our own right and to get a record contract. In order to keep working we started The Bohemians,’ says bass player Kevin Goodwin. ‘All of the original songs we have ever written are very influenced by Queen. You can hear a lot of harmony vocals going on.’
The resemblance to Queen is startling as they line up to greet the other members of the press. ‘We have had a few changes along the way. There was one other Freddie, one other drummer and one other guitarist,’ adds Kevin. ‘Lots of people try to be Freddie but singing night after night is very demanding. A lot of tribute artists do not last very long.’
The Bohemians were formed in 1996 and they have played prestigious venues worldwide. The crowd in Cheam tonight even features a married couple that have travelled all the way from Perth, Australia to hear them. Their various television spots include appearances on The Charlotte Church Show and more recently Al Murray - Pub Landlord. ‘On his final show they got us in to play at the wrap party. Brian May and his band were actually in the audience. Brian is such a lovely guy,’ says Kevin with pride.
Whether you are generation LP, CD or MP3, the infectious pop classics of Queen are a staple for any music lover. It only takes the pounding bass line of Another One Bites The Dust to get the crowd swaying in unison. Leading the melodic vanguard is Rob Comber, who is a testament to Freddie Mercury. He constantly draws my gaze with his showmanship as he lunges back and forth striking poses and launching his fist into the air. ‘This one is for the ladies, who are all looking lovely this evening!’ he exclaims with his bare chest on display.
The Bohemians dazzle the onlookers with a stage show that includes an array of lights, lasers and a smoke machine. However, there is more to the band than illusions and spectacle. To carry songs as epic in proportion as We Will Rock You and Don’t Stop Me Now there are true depths to their talents. The highlight for me was hearing the soaring vocals during Bohemian Rhapsody and of course that renowned, ear shredding guitar solo. For a crowd suitably civilised for Nonsuch Park they certainly can rock the mansion chandeliers and even as the crew pack up the stage they continue to dance to 80s tunes blaring out of the speakers.