Tribute band Queen Nation brings the music of Queen to a new generation
By Shanee Edwards
The first time Gregory Finsley witnessed celebrated rock band Queen perform was in 1977 in Ft. Worth, Texas. He was instantly hooked. A New Orleans native, Finsley spent years carefully studying Queen lead singer Freddy Mercury’s vocal style, and now performs as Mercury in the tribute band Queen Nation.
See Finsley as Mercury, guitarist Mike McManus as Brian May, Parker Combs as bassist John Deacon and Peter Burke as drummer Roget Taylor during a free Queen Nation Concert on Sunday at the Central Park Bandshell in Playa Vista.
This past year has garnered the band an especially big following, largely thanks to the 2018 film “Bohemian Rhapsody” that brought the music of Queen to a new generation.
“The music has sort of re-rooted itself. For those of us who grew up with it, we’re in our 40s and 50s, but now our kids are delving into the old CDs. You’ll see them at the show in their Queen T-shirts, or dressed up as Freddie Mercury and having the best time of their lives,” says Finsley. “It’s really a blessing to see all the ages come together and enjoy it.”
After performing as Mercury for well over a decade, Finsley has learned that Queen’s music has transcended entertainment. The music of Queen has impacted fans’ lives in deep, emotional ways. Finsley says he feels a big responsibility.
“Sometimes I come off stage and someone says, ‘I’m 66-years-old and that was my song back in the day,’ or ‘That was my wedding song,’ or ‘That was played at my dad’s funeral.’ People tell you all the time they cried during this song or that song — so you have to bring your A-game. No matter how simple or small you think the gig is, everyone needs to have their own intimate concert.”
When Finsley isn’t performing with Queen Nation — or Queen for a Day, another Queen tribute band — he’s writing and recording his own original music. But lately his success as a tribute performer has made it challenging to work on his own music.
“We’re averaging three to four shows per week, so it’s been hard to find down time, but it’s all working out quite well at this pace.”
Queen Nation performs from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 21, at the Central Park Bandshell in Playa Vista. The concert is free. Visit playavista.com for more information.