“It was always the more theatrical groups I was drawn to,” said Craig Pesco, Freddie Mercury impersonator and lead-singer of Queen cover band, Queen ”“ It’s a Kinda Magic, set to slay TCU Place March 8.
“It wasn’t until ’91 when Freddie passed away that I (thought of the cover band). I had a little regret that I didn’t pay a little more attention. Then I got a hold of whatever I could: records, books and DVDs”¦ I have the biggest Queen video collection of anyone I have ever met.”
Pesco has toured the world over with It’s a Kinda Magic, but his rock career initially took off opening for KISS.
Pesco’s band Wicked Lester (named after the band Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley played in before KISS) was first noticed for its name — and then its sound. The band was invited to open for KISS in Australia.
“I was a KISS fan since I was kid. I ended up playing with them twice, later with a band called King’s of the Sun”¦ Gene Simmons personally chose that band to tour in ’98. KISS were friends of mine from Australia.”
Pesco’s drive and the band’s authentic Queen sound have brought them many opportunities and much good fortune, including the endorsement of Freddie Mercury’s personal assistant, Peter Freestone.
“The show had been touring for about two years when I met Peter Freestone at a show in Singapore in 2003,” said Pesco. “I remember him in the backstage halls before the show; I recognized him from the Queen DVDs. He had his arms out and he was a big gentleman. We sat down and talked about Freddie Mercury and he decided to endorse the show.”
Pesco recognizes that there are other Queen cover bands out there, but he insisted that It’s a Kinda Magic is pushing the envelope in terms of grandiosity and spectacle just like Queen always did.
“There’s one in Japan and one or two in the UK, but we have always tried to be the biggest. I mean, Queen revolutionized big stage productions; I don’t want to be in anything that’s smaller than a 2,000-seat theatre. This way you can use a light show and video technology and keep it over the top like Queen always was live.”
Canadian tours have always been great for It’s a Kinda Magic, and Pesco is excited to return to Saskatchewan with a redesigned show.
“ ”˜Home of the Roughriders’ — that’s how we always remember it. Canada was one of the first countries to get behind us. It was a big risk to begin with.”
The band prides itself on playing both hits and “undiscovered gems,” and thus should appeal to both casual and die-hard fans. This tour will comprise highlights of Queen’s live career.
“The stage show is like the Hot Space tour,” said Pesco. “It’s the longest show we have ever done, and we will be playing some of my favourites.”