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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 April, 2005, 11:16 GMT 12:16 UK
Queen defy plea to scrap Rome gig
Queen guitarist Brian May (left) with Paul Rodgers
Singer Paul Rodgers (right) has joined Queen for the tour
Rock band Queen went ahead with a gig in Rome on Monday despite a plea to cancel out of respect for the Pope.

Queen are on tour with former Free singer Paul Rodgers in place of Freddie Mercury, who died in 1991.

Before the show, Guido Bertolaso, who is overseeing Rome's arrangements for Pope John Paul II's funeral, said it would be "in very bad taste right now".

Queen said the show took place "after consultation with local authorities" and they observed a minute's silence.

Although a fan of the group, Mr Bertolaso said: "I think that in this moment of pain and prayer, a concert should not be held in our capital - with all due respect to what others believe."

The government-appointed commissioner for the Italian capital's funeral arrangements added the group turned down requests to postpone the show at the Palalottomatica venue.

Freddie Mercury impersonator outside the Palalottomatica arena, Rome
Fans still turned out in force to see Queen at the Palalottomatica arena
A statement from the group said: "After consultation with local authorities, promoter Barley Arts decided the concert should go ahead. Band opened concert with a minute of silence."

All Italian sporting events, including Serie A football matches, were cancelled at the weekend, as was campaigning for Italian regional elections.

And the Italian cinema box office slumped 37% over the weekend, according to film industry publication Screen Daily.

Rome film complex La Casa del Cinema postponed a screening of The Exorcist: The Beginning and a related debate that had been scheduled for Tuesday, Screen Daily reported.

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