Though every deceased body and their mother have been deemed fair game for “holographic” treatment since Tupac Shakur’s surprise “appearance” at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Queen’s Roger Taylor says he’ll never play alongside any similar image of the late Freddie Mercury.
“I don’t think I want to,” Taylor told Billboard.com during a conference call with reporters to promote The Queen Extravaganza road show, which launches its eight-week run on May 26 in Quebec City. “Were somebody (else) to use a hologram of Freddie, I would have no objection… It just doesn’t sit too well with me. I don’t want to appear with a hologram of my dear friend. It’s the real one or no hologram for me. But I think it’s an amazing effect when used properly — obviously in darkness.” Taylor added that he and guitarist Brian May considered a Mercury hologram/projection for the musical “We Will Rock You” before deciding against it and also pointed out that the Tupac at Coachella was not strictly a hologram but rather “a two-dimensional thing. It gives the appearance of being a hologram. It’s an illusion in the true sense.”
Taylor and May, of course, will be playing Queen music this summer with “American Idol” runner-up Adam Lambert. With the recently announced July 7 date in Wroclaw, Poland, the group will play a total of five shows, including June 30 in Moscow, sold-out July 11-12 shows at the HMV Apollo Hammersmith in London and an outdoor appearance with Elton John that’s still being finalized. Taylor termed the performances with Lambert to be “slightly experimental. We’ll see how they go, how we get along over the course of a whole show” after short stints on “American Idol” and at the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards. “Who knows what might happen,” he added, noting that “Brian and I are not the young men we were. We’re not as bendy or flexible as we were…We really don’t want to commit ourselves to too many things. I’m also committed to the Extravaganza right now.”
With a brief break to perform on “American Idol” last week, Taylor and May have been in Toronto working with the nine-member Extravaganza cast, which includes four vocalists. The crew will be moving to Montreal soon for full production rehearsals, and both Taylor and singer Marc Martel, from the Canadian Christian rock band downhere, said the preparations were going well. “There’s no way they could know we’re all going to get along so well,” Martel said. “In the last week we’ve spent together we’ve developed a really great banned chemistry, and I’m really pleased I’m gonna be on the road with these guys for the next couple of months.”
Taylor said he plans on being on the road for the opening dates of the tour and hinted he and/or May may make occasional cameos during the performances. “I certainly wouldn’t rule that out,” Taylor said. “There are no plans right now; we just want to get the (Extravaganza) band absolutely tip-top. But I would never rule that out. I think it would be a lot of fun as well…but I wouldn’t want to detract from the band or the show. It would just be a little bit of maybe surprise icing if it ever happens.”
As for having the Extravaganza and the Queen show with Lambert both performing during the summer, Taylor said that, “It really is only five dates we’re doing, so I don’t think it’s weird we’re playing on the other side of the world whilst the extravaganza is touring in North America and Canada.” Martel added that, “It’s (Taylor’s) band and he has the right to do whatever he wants. It’s not a competition at all. We’re jsut happy to be playing this great music that as many people as possible should hear, in my opinion.”
The Extravaganza show will also feature special effects and unreleased video footage, and Taylor says the group is rehearsing a repertoire deep enough that some different songs could be played each night. “We are really digging deep into the catalog,” he promised. “We will have more songs than we absolutely probably need. We’re really racing through them at the moment…I think it will be a movable feast, but obviously we want to get the absolutely optimum show we can with keeping it exciting and at no point boring.”