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Freddie Mercury returns to the stage (sort of)

Hologram-like optical illusion will bring the legendary Queen frontman back for a belated encore tonight in London.

Mercury was prone to optical illusions even during his living days.
Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

He's been gone since 1991, but legendary Queen frontman Freddie Mercury is preparing for a long overdue encore performance tonight in London.

Well, sort of.

Queen guitarist Brian May told the BBC that an image of Mercury will appear onstage during a special 10th-anniversary performance of the musical "We Will Rock You" at London's Dominion Theatre. May said the image will not be a hologram, referring to it instead as an "optical illusion," but hinted at similarities to the hyped Tupac hologram seen at the Coachella festival last month.

"It's a little unfortunate they did that thing with Tupac as we've been trying to make Freddie appear on the stage for quite a while," May said.

It's quite likely the effect will literally involve some smoke and mirrors and a little bit of modern digital technology. An effect known as "Pepper's Ghost" uses lighting tricks to reflect an image onto glass or another two-dimensional surface. In fact, the underlying concept is so decidedly low-tech, it's been around in magic shows and the like for centuries. It's so simple, you might even call it Bohemian.