There really is something very special about being in a beautiful venue absolutely filled with candles. We were inside the majestic Grand Lodge at the Freemasons Hall on North Terrace to see the Tribute to Queen concert with the Amicus String Quartet.
The candlelight magic begins as you enter the venue, with candles illuminating the entrance hall and grand staircase. Hundreds of candles fill the stage in the concert hall itself creating a wonderful warm ambience, and illuminating the room with a warm, flickering light. These are, of course, the battery powered electric candles, not the real thing, but they still give a convincing feeling as they twinkle and burn brightly.
The Candlelight Series includes a range of different concerts. This performance sees the Amicus String Quartet playing a wonderful selection of the music of Queen. These are songs we all know and love from the opening number Another one bites the Dust to a rousing Bohemian Rhapsody to finish. Even though these songs are all so well-known, they do sound very different when played by a classical quartet of two violins, a viola, and a cello; there’s no singer and no drums or percussion so that really does change the musical dynamic.
Violinist Carolyn Lam, founder and manager of Amicus, made a charming host for the concert. She introduced each piece and gave a few insights into the music. She explained that the harmonic progression in much of Queen’s music is very classically based. Lam also showed how the strings have to ‘play’ the lines for the missing instruments, in part by the cello being played pizzicato to give the music its strong beat.
The play-list celebrated all Queen’s greatest hits including Crazy Little Thing Called Love – apparently written by Freddie Mercury in just ten minutes sitting in a bathtub; Radio Gaga written by Queen’s drummer Roger Taylor (not in the bath!); and Killer Queen, which I never realised is actually about a high-class prostitute! The audience had an opportunity to perform as well, stamping their feet and clapping to keep the beat going in the much-loved We will rock you and singing along to the anthemic chorus in We are the Champions. ‘Let’s take the roof off the Freemasons,’ said Lam!
This Tribute show is a perfect blend of rock concert meets classical music, played by four very talented and hard-working local musicians. Amicus are very popular as a wedding band – Lam says they have played for more than 2,500 couples!
These Candlelight concerts, promoted by Fever, are now popular around the world, being played regularly in over 100 cities from Sydney to Singapore and LA to London. They are almost always performed in old or historic venues rather than the usual concert halls and theatres. This gives them a real point of difference and is part of their appeal.
Here in Adelaide they play at a range of venues including the beautiful Freemasons Hall, built in 1927 with stunning art deco architecture, and The Old Methodist Meeting Hall. Just going into these historic buildings is a great experience and the candlelight creates a special sense of intimacy between the performers and the audience. Lovely music, charming performers, hundreds of candles – just beautiful!