Flash Harry

Queen tribute act joined by the Ulster Orchestra

The Ulster Orchestra have performed with many great bands and solo musicians over the years, including Duke Special, Cara Dillon, the Dankworth family - and now it's Queen's turn… well not quite the groundbreaking 70s rock band fronted by pop icon Freddie Mercury, but not far off it. 

Throughout their thirteen years, Northern Irish Queen tribute band Flash Harry have performed to audiences all over the world, from Dublin’s Point Theatre to Dubai, garnering much attention and a large fan base. 

Their show at Belfast’s Odyssey Arena is a rather special concert of Queen’s music. Entitled “Rocked Up and Classical” its the first collaboration between Mercury and Co's classic material and the orchestra's classical musicians.

The atmosphere in the arena is electric as front man Harry Hamilton walks onstage at the beginning of a fantastic night of hits from the back catalogue of one of Britain’s most iconic bands. 

With musical arrangements from talented composer Frank Lyons, the orchestra moves in perfect sync with the band, providing a suitably symphonic engine beneath the band’s heavy metal, with astounding solos by talented guitarist Stevie Boyd worth particular mention.

Among the hits included on the programme are 'We Will Rock You' and 'I Want to Break Free' (for the latter Hamilton performs an eye catchingly colourful wardrobe change) but the real highlights of the night occur when both orchestra and band really come alive - most notably on 'Don’t Stop Me Now' and 'Radio Ga Ga'. 

But perhaps the greatest success of the evening is 'Bohemian Rhapsody', with vocals added by the choir from Magee College and fantastic arrangement from Lyons, a great performance by the band culminates in a thunderous - and rapturously received - finale.

Bringing together so many musicians of different backgrounds is commendable - the fact that it works even better. On the down side, at times the sound is a little overwhelming, blocking out the music’s more subtle moments but is not something to dwell on too much given the vast scale of what Flash Harry achieve - not exactly a ‘day at the races’, rather a ‘kind of magic.’

Graeme Stewart