- The Queen Extravaganza tribute tour will kick off on May 26
- Roger Taylor and Brian May will also play five Queen shows in Europe with Adam Lambert
- The Extravaganza will also be quite the visual spectacle
On a recent afternoon in Toronto, Queen's Roger Taylor was checking out rehearsals for Queen Extravaganza -- a 25-date tribute tour with a lineup hand-selected by him and his bandmate, guitarist Brian May -- when singer Marc Martel belted out a few notes from "Bohemian Rhapsody," stopping the 62-year-old drummer in his tracks.
"It was as if Freddie (Mercury) was in the room," Taylor said today during a conference call with journalists. "It was uncanny."
Martel is just one of three singers selected to join the Queen Extravaganza lineup after a lengthy online audition process. The nine lucky musicians will kick off their trek on May 26 in Quebec City after making their live debut last week on "American Idol", where they were joined by Taylor and May.
"We had such a fantastic response," said Taylor. "We weren't just looking for copies of us. We were looking for great musicianship, great charisma and the right people, the right sort of personalities that fit into the band. What we weren't looking for were lookalikes."
Martel first discovered Queen's music while watching the 1992 film "Wayne's World." The 36-year-old singer, who is also in the Nashville-based band Downhere, was later encouraged by his bassist to study Mercury's singing.
"I realized, 'Wow, this guy did so many amazing things with his voice,' especially in the studio," Martel explained. "He really pushed himself."
The tribute tour is just one of the projects that Queen have planned for 2012. Taylor and May will also play five Queen shows in Europe later this year with singer Adam Lambert on lead vocals. According to Taylor, Queen will perform in Moscow, Ukraine and London. He described the Ukraine show as a "very big outdoor" co-headlining gig with Elton John; the London gigs will take place at the Hammersmith Apollo.
"We were hoping to do a festival in London, but for various reasons that didn't happen," Taylor said.
Lambert, who performed with Taylor and May on the 2009 "American Idol" finale, has long been on the duo's radar. "Brian and I have seen quite a lot of his shows," Taylor added.
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