Locals: Queen's reign continues in the form of Mr. Fahrenheit & the Loverboys

Andy Downing, Columbus Alive

Sometime following this weekend's sound check, a bearded Philip Cogley, who adopts the role of Freddie Mercury in Queen cover band Mr. Fahrenheit & the Loverboys, will retreat to his home for a date with a razor, returning to the venue moments before show time sporting the final, iconic piece of the puzzle: a Mercury-worthy mustache.

"That's always the last step," said a laughing Cogley, who joined guitarist and Loverboy bandmate Jacob Wooten for an early December interview at a north campus coffee shop. "It's part of the ritual."

For the past seven years, Mr. Fahrenheit has made this transformation every six-to-12 months, pumping fresh life into Queen's sizeable catalog in a series of increasingly sprawling, epic performances. For the first event, which took place at Skully's Music-Diner in July 2007, the musicians worked through maybe a dozen of the band's better-known songs, including "Tie Your Mother Down" (the first song it ever rehearsed due in part to the tune's relative simplicity), "We Are the Champions" and "Another One Bites the Dust." An outdoor performance at Franklinton's 400 W. Rich earlier this summer, in contrast, featured 37 songs and an expanded selection of deep cuts. For the band's latest show, which is set to take place at King Avenue Five on Friday, Dec. 12, Wooten, Cogley and Co. unearthed "Ogre Battle," a seldom-played track off the 1974 album Queen II.

"I played ['Ogre Battle'] for my friend and he was like, 'Man, [Queen guitarist] Brian May was frisky back then!'" Wooten said. "It's amazing how much that band developed. If you listen to a song off (1973's) Queen I ... and then listen to a song off (1986's) A Kind of Magic, it sounds like a completely different band."'

This diversity of sounds and styles requires a great deal of flexibility from the players - something Mr. Fahrenheit has in spades with versatile contributors Cogley, Wooten, Mike Sidwell (drums), Chris Bolognese (bass), Richard Buckalew (keys), Rob Bradley (guitar) and Kevin Collins (vocals).

"You can tell by listening to the songs ... they were throwing in all these things to keep themselves interested because all those dudes are clearly too talented to just be in a conventional rock band," Cogley said. "For most bands [songs go] verse, chorus, verse. But with Queen it's verse one, chorus one, verse two with a weird variation, some weird musical interlude, and then a verse again, and then maybe a chorus, and then a bridge, and then another bridge…"

Due to this complexity, Mr. Fahrenheit's earliest shows were a bit rougher around the edges ("I don't think we knew at the time just how sloppy it was," Wooten said), though the players have always approached the task at hand with a similarly world-beating fervor.

"One place we always succeeded ... was in capturing that energy," Cogley said. "We didn't have the talent, but over time we've put the work in. I'm never going to be Freddie Mercury, of course, and Jacob is never going to be Bryan May, but we're a little bit closer now, anyway."

King Avenue Five

8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12

945 King Ave., Grandview