Music reporter Vicki McCarthy talks to Ian Beattie, frontman of her favourite Queen tribute band The Freddie and Queen Experience, ahead of their return to MK11 on Friday December 17th.
As I write this, I’m getting ready to attend my first music festival since 2019.
Owing to the time of year, this event is obviously being held indoors, but I’m still buzzing with excitement, as I look forward to being amongst fellow music-lovers to see and hear three days of amazing live music.
This feeling of exhilarating anticipation has also taken me right back to the summer, when I prepared to attend my first post-lockdown gig, where I saw a Queen tribute band pack out MK11 Live Music Venue and put on a mesmerising show.
So, imagine my delight to learn that this very same band, The Freddie and Queen Experience, are set to return to MK11 on Friday 17 December for what I will now refer to as… my early Christmas present!
I recently caught up with Ian Beattie (AKA “Freddie”) over the phone – as he and the band headed to another sell-out show – to find out more about them.
The first thing I wanted to know was how The Freddie and Queen Experience came about.
“I gigged as a solo Freddie act and was then in another Queen tribute band a few years back,” Ian explained, “But as their bass player. I was essentially the band’s John Deacon! Then the lead singer left and with some cajoling from a John Lennon tribute I’d met on the circuit, I tentatively stepped into the role.
“Then when it came to a natural end, I started this band.”
I’ve seen a few Queen tribute bands in my time, but The Freddie and Queen Experience are hands-down the best. I asked Ian what he thinks makes the band different from others.
“That’s a tough one. It’s hard to say without sounding big-headed!” Ian laughed, ‘It’s a kind of magic to watch this Queen tribute act’
“But if I was having to ‘sell’ what we do to anyone, I’d say that we’re 100% live, with no backing tracks. We are a high-energy band and not under any illusion that me doing some fist-bumps while wearing a yellow jacket, vest and white jeans is enough to imitate Freddie!”
He continued: “We work really hard to look and sound as authentic as possible and to build a rapport with the crowd. We include them in the show by engaging them and encouraging their participation by singing along, rather than just us performing to them.”
When I saw the band perform in August, I was impressed with how much effort Ian put in while playing
the part of Freddie, from the facial expressions, onstage moves, minute mannerisms and even Freddie’s speaking voice between songs.
That must have taken some time to perfect?
“I grew up on Queen,” Ian elaborated, “I think to be a competent tribute to an artist, you have to really love that person as a performer.
“It took a lot of studying and practice to even begin to emulate Freddie. I see it as almost becoming an actor, and to a certain degree an illusionist when I step onstage. I need to do Freddie justice not just for me, but for the audience that are paying for and expecting an authentic experience.”
He added: “Oh, and if I spoke in my usual broad Lancashire accent between songs, it might burst the
bubble for everyone!”
So, what’s coming up next? “Looking to 2022, myself, Andrew, Lee, James and Richard have lots of festivals and theatre gigs already booked, which we can’t wait for,” Ian replied.
“But first, we’re obviously looking forward to returning to MK11, the second venue they opened there is brilliant, the crowd’s fantastic and atmosphere electric.”
I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I’d say it’s a kind of magic… erm, I’ll get my coat!
The Freddie and Queen Experience will be performing at MK11 Live Music Venue on Friday December 17th. Tickets £11 (adv) visit mk11kilnfarm.com or facebook.com/TheFreddieandQueenExperience