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Wembley Arena, London May 11 2005
There are only two bands that mean more to me than anything musically,
ELO and Queen. Sadly I never got to see Queen with Freddie Mercury (I did
have a Knebworth ticket for 1986 but couldn't go and thought they were bound
to tour again, how wrong I was!), although I did attend the excellent
At that concert Extreme's Gary Cherone and George Michael
did the best servive to the Queen legend and Freddie's awesome stage
presence and vocal ranges. Since then Brian May and Roger Taylor have kept
the Queen flame alive including a few new songs, lots of collaborations and
of course the musical 'We Will Rock You'. Now in 2005 the band are back
touring as a fully fledged band althoigh John Deacon has retired from all
Joining Brian May and Roger Taylor are Paul Rodgers, the former Free/Bad
Company voclaist and one of my all time favourite singers (he could sing his
weekly shopping list and still leave you in awe). On bass Danny Miranda
(ex-Blue Oyster Cult) and two musicians who have been involved in all things
Queen related down the years - guitarist Jamie Moses (Brian May Band) and
keyboard player Spike Edney (the SAS Band mastermind and also Queen's live
keyboard/guitar player in the mid-80's). I spotted fellow SAS Band colleague
Jeff Scott Soto in the audience tonight as well - slightly weird as I'd seen
him on stage with Soul Sirkus on Monday night.
So all in all a very accomplished musical pedigree. But how do you replace
Freddie? Simply you don't and as Queen and Paul Rodgers proved tonight they
realise Freddie was unique and for some songs (the first half of 'Bohemian
Rhapsody') they let Freddie take over via video footage. From the off with a
storming 'Tie Your Mother Down' it was a superb night of classic music (the
temporary Wembley Arena tent was awful though - no air con, poor visibilty).
Brian May and Roger Taylor seemed to be loving every minute of it and as
for Paul Rodgers he was his usual self - confident delivery and good
audience rapport. Funny that Rodgers has never been mooted as a possible
Freddie replacement down the years yet he seems so at home. We even get some
of his past bands glories like Free's 'Wishing Well', this left a few Queen
fans bemused as I think they expected all Queen tunes.
Brian May did a solo spot with '39 plus 'Love Of My Life' (dedicated to Freddie) and Roger Taylor
led 'Radio Ga Ga' - what a glorious sight to see thousands of hands in sync
like the video. Some new twists on songs as well with 'Hammer To Fall'
starting off as a ballad (yes that's right a ballad!) before the usual May
guitar mayhem kicked in. Plenty of lights, pomp and musical bombast that
millions love but music critics seem to hate. Songs? We had 'We Will Rock
You'/'We Are The Champions', 'I Want It All', 'A Kind Of Magic' and 'Crazy
Little Thing Called Love'. Set closer was another Free classic, 'All Right
Now' - not 'arf!
One of THE best gigs I've seen in many a year and Queen managed to keep
not only the Queen music alive but paid a fitting tribute to Freddie
Mercury, without it descending into a sentimental mush. Long live Queen!
Review: Jason Ritchie