Release: June 1st
A live album of Queen covers is inevitably harder to review simply because of the fact that you’re reviewing Queen songs. Queen were one of those bands that – not entirely unlike Blondie – were first and foremost a singles band. Queen released benchmark singles on iffy albums and what The Protomen do here is provide an hour long mix of some of the more recognizable jams. It’s sort of like someone asking you to judge a supermodel’s looks based on their high school English essays; to simply say “this is a great album” would be unfair to both Queen and The Protomen because of the original Queen material being so well-known and so good.
The delivery is perfect: vocalist Raul Panther manages an uncanny impression of Freddie Mercury that only falters when it hits the truly high notes. The guitars aren’t quite as powerful as on a Queen record (this is live, after all) yet little is lost in the overall translation – The Protomen perform very faithful covers. It sounds not unlike a Queen performance. That is, ultimately, the Occams’ razor of the project: due to the faithful reproduction, it is impossible to review this album without reviewing it as an album of Queen songs. The songs are so closely aligned to the originals that it leaves the casual Protomen fan (or die-hard Queen fan) wondering why The Protomen didn’t incorporate more of their own sound. It’s a great live album – a truly great live album – yet impossible to separate the two.
The Protomen normally release some spectacularly gnarly 80′s sounding synth-rock and it would have been rad to have heard the band cover Queen perhaps in the studio. I’ll say it again – overall, “A Night Of Queen” is a truly great live album – so good, in fact, that it leaves the listener wishing perhaps too much that feeling of “you had to be there.” Its biggest fault, if I’m to be truly honest, is that it literally sounds exactly like you think Queen would sound playing at the top of their careers in a small venue. That is: too good to be true.