Concert Reviews

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Concert Reviews

Postby Kes » Wed Feb 22, 2006 6:57 pm

The Freddie Mercury Concert For AIDS Awareness - Wembley Stadium 20th April 1992.

Come the morning of the 20th April, we set off very early and arrived at Wembley at about 0800, the doors were due to open at 1600 Wembley has about eight entrances, all around the stadium, and the tickets tell you which entrance you HAVE to use. Ours was the furthest from the stage, that was the first disappointment. Next was that the steps up to the gates were already full of fans, maybe two or three hundred in front of us, in the five lines of steps.

We took turns in doing toilet, refreshment and merchandising runs, as required. From the merchandising stall, I got two special ‘T’ shirts, one of which has only ever been worn on that day and two programmes (with which you got a free red scarf, shit quality, though, you can see them everywhere on the video!).

It was as boring as f*ck, waiting eight hours, with more disappointment happening at about 1200, when about a thousand people started filling up the grass ramps besides the steps, and you realised that they would seriously slow your progress into the stadium, when the doors eventually opened.

Another thing we remember, is that it would suddenly go quiet, and then you’d hear a murmuring getting slowly louder. This was a sign to get up off of your arse quick, before you got trampled to death by the crowd pushing behind you. I would hear this noise about five times throughout the day, the last one would spoil the family's day.

After the first one, we’d moved about a quarter the way up the steps, and then stopped. People started sitting on the steps again. The mood was quite good with ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ by Monty Python, being sung all around the stadium by the waiting fans. ‘We Will Rock You’ was another favourite, and it was very impressive to listen to 70,000 trying to keep in time with each other. Various soundchecks happened with people trying to figure out who was doing them. There was the Opera section to Bohemian Rhapsody that finished with a thunderclap. There was a section of ‘Somebody To Love’. But the most impressive from outside the stadium was ‘Champions’, because you could really FEEL the harmonic unity of Brian’s guitar, John’s bass, Roger’s Drums, and Spike’s keyboards. Everything was resonating to it, and people just stared at each other open mouthed, this was going to be a very special and emotional day.

Another murmur started, and this time, the railings on the steps were starting to squeeze the breath out of you. We had a football tragedy happen in Britain that year, at a place called Hillsborough, and over a hundred Liverpool fans had been crushed to death, much in this manner, so everybody was really frightened when this started happening, and people were screaming through fear, not excitement. Police on horses were sent out, someone had a brainwave there, how the f*ck they were meant to help, still escapes me.

After about five minutes, it eased off a bit, and people settled down again. The time was about 1430, and other soundchecks started. I think Def Leppard first, and then just about an hour before the gates opened, Metallica. The crush started happening again, only more intense, at about 1550. And by now wifey was getting really concerned about the kids, it didn’t let up until we were through the gates at the top, where we handed over our tickets, were thoroughly body-searched and finally allowed through.

Climbing up a few steps to get us into the internal entrance of the stadium, we could see that thousands of fans had got in before us, certainly double or treble the entire amount, that had been there at eight o’clock this morning. I felt really disheartened that we had waited for so long to be nearly halfway back down the stadium, right next to the sound-tent.

Everybody was sat on the pitch, so we joined them. People went away to get drinks, leaving their loved ones to hold a space for them, and as they returned would try and lay down with their drinks. About half an hour later, the familiar murmuring started again, and we were up like rockets, only just in time though, people around us were getting walked on, and were really screaming now, there was a definite crush happening, and my kids were now joining in the screaming, and my wife said to me, “That’s it, I’m not going to stay here with the kids while THIS is happening, I’m off and I’m taking them with me!”. I told her that I was coming with her, but she said “If you think we’ve been waiting here since eight this morning for us ALL to miss this, then you’d better think again, if you come with me, we’re all leaving the stadium and going home, now! What do YOU want to do?”.

Put like that, I decided that I would stay there while she disappeared, I was sad as they disappeared. I only found out after the show that she’d gone up into the seats hard to the stage left. For the entire show, I was on my own.


The show itself was divided into two, much like the subsequent video release of it. The first half being the BIG bands at the time, and the second half being Queen’s tribute to Freddie. The acts were given the freedom to play what they wanted. Only Extreme really entered into the spirit of things, as only a very small part of their set was not Queen-written. The crowd went wild at these Queen songs being very well played by the Boston quartet. Def Leppard also did a Queen song, Now I’m Here, and called on the assistance of the ‘man with the curly hair, and curly guitar lead, Mr Brian May’. Metallica played three songs off their ‘black album’ with almost absolute perfection, and were probably the band that impressed me most in this first half. Guns ‘n’ Roses were also very good. Low-spots were Roger’s mate Bob Geldof (Perhaps they’re friends because they both gave their kids strange names!), who claimed that Freddie co-wrote his offering with him, I hope not, it really was shit. Another low-spot was Spinal Tap, who were there at Brian’s request. Their four-minute set took up over 15 valuable minutes trying to get the gear to work. This would cost Roger and Chris Thompson, a song each in the second half.

Enter Sandman
Sad But True
Nothing Else Matters

Queen Medley
Love Of My Life
More Than Words

Let’s Get Rocked
Now I’m Here

Too Late God

The Majesty Of Rock

The End Of The World
(Via satellite)

Paradise City
Only Women Bleed
Knocking On Heaven’s Door

AIDS Speech

The Queen set was extremely impressive, I had already lost my voice singing along to the ‘Extreme’ set. On the video, you can see what appears to be the stage bouncing up & down on ‘Tie Your Mother Down’, the camera was mounted on the solid Wembley pitch, and the crowd bouncing up & down, made the camera move that much. My memories are George Michael’s brilliant version of ‘Somebody To Love’, it really stood out from the rest on the day. Brian’s ‘Too Much Love’ was another emotional moment. But the point when I just collapsed into an emotional wreck, was when Brian did introducing Liza Minnelli on ‘We are The Champions’, as that finished, I just couldn’t control the tears anymore, and there were hundreds, maybe even thousands, around me, doing the same. As thousands of red balloons filled the sky, and fireworks went off, I just stood there stationary on the pitch for about five minutes after ‘God Save The Queen’ just bawling my eyes out. This to me was more emotional than Knebworth, and I would say, one of the most emotional times of my life. This had a finality about it, that REALLY hit you at the time.


Brian May – Guitar, Keyboards, Backing vocals

Roger Taylor – Drums, Backing vocals

John Deacon – Bass Guitar

Spike Edney – Keyboards, Backing vocals

Guest backing musicians :-

Tony Iommi – Guitar (most tracks)
Joshua J. McCrae – Percussion on ‘Days Of Our Lives’
Chris Thompson – Guitar, Backing vocals (most tracks)
Mike Moran – Keyboards on ‘Somebody To Love’
Maggie Ryder – Backing vocals (most tracks)
Miriam Stopley – Backing vocals (most tracks)


Tie Your Mother Down – Joe Elliot & Slash
Pinball Wizard – Roger Daltrey
I Want It All – Roger Daltrey
Las Palabras De Amor – Zucchero
Hammer To Fall – Gary Cherone
Stone Cold Crazy – James Hetfield
Innuendo/Kashmir – Robert Plant
Thank You – Robert Plant
Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Robert Plant
Too Much Love Will Kill You – Brian & Spike
Radio Ga-Ga – Paul Young
Who Wants To Live Forever – Seal
I Want To Break Free – Lisa Stansfield
Under Pressure – David Bowie & Annie Lennox
All The Young Dudes – Ian Hunter & David Bowie
Heroes – David Bowie & Mick Ronson
’39 – George Michael
These Are The Days Of Our Lives – George Michael & Lisa Stansfield
Somebody To Love – George Michael & London Comm. Gospel Choir
Bohemian Rhapsody – Elton John & W. Axl Rose
The Show Must Go On – Elton John
We Will Rock You – W. Axl Rose
We Are The Champions – Liza Minnelli
God Save The Queen – Play-out.

I eventually caught up with the rest of the family on the outer concourse, I didn’t know if they’d stayed to watch the show, or got out of there, or what. They told me that they’d seen it all, from closer than I was, but they were looking across the stage, from Brian’s side across to John’s, about half way up the stand. It’s hard to say it, but as a package, this was the ultimate Queen event that I’ve been to, and the star of the show wasn’t even there. We got in our car and went home, upset, not overjoyed, which was the normal reaction after a Queen show. WHY?

The reason: The QUEEN book had just been very firmly CLOSED!
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Knebworth Park - Queen's Last Outing

Postby Kes » Wed Feb 22, 2006 7:00 pm

9th August !986 – Knebworth Park, Stevenage, Hertfordshire.

A Night Of Summer Magic
Queen’s Final Live performance.

Lot’s of people say they were there, when you mention Knebworth to them, this is because they can’t handle the fact that they missed Queen’s final gig. Throughout the times that I went to see Queen live, I always tried to make sure I went to the last gig of that tour. Not to do with morbid fears of them splitting, more to do with last gigs being notoriously the best shows, as the band in question will let their hair down, and do things that they wouldn’t normally do.

When the ‘Magic’ tour was scheduled, Wembley was at the back end of the tour, but by no means the last gig, with that honour scheduled to happen in Marbella, Spain. Yours truly had tried to get tickets for Wembley, but on the back of ‘Live Aid’, the demand for tickets was phenomenal, and you couldn’t get them for love nor money. I thought ‘Oh well, I’ll miss them again!’. But in the UK, some tickets are sold off to coach tour companies and small amounts to box offices around the country. I had tried about 15 coach tour operators and about 6 or 7 box offices with no luck. One day we went shopping in Oxford, and just happened to walk past the Apollo there, on our way back to the car. They had a small chalkboard in the window, saying tickets available for various bands, and one of those was Queen. Now I’d already tried the Apollo about 2 weeks before, so I wondered where they had suddenly got Wembley tickets from. We had to wait around another hour or so, for the box office to open, and I queued up. On arrival at the counter, I didn’t care which gig, I just wanted two tickets, end of story. This was when they told me it was Knebworth, and I suddenly became a little sceptical, “But they’re not playing Knebworth, I’ve seen the tour schedule on promo posters!”. The guy said “Do you want these tickets or not?”. I only had to think for about 4 nanoseconds, before I handed over the cheque for them.

The day arrived, and we jumped in the car at about 0930 am for the hour and a half drive to the town of Stevenage, about 30 miles North-West of London. About five miles away from the place, the traffic was grid-locked, and nothing moved faster than slow walking pace. We eventually got to one of the car parks, and I’d never seen so many parked cars and coaches. They scattered the fields everywhere, and when we parked up and started following everyone else it took 15 minutes to get to the wooden fence that surrounded the venue. My thought then was “How the f*ck are we going to find the car?” and that wasn’t even taking into account the fact it would be dark, when we needed to. After passing the huge skips, that everybody’s drinks that they’d brought with them, were being thrown into (there must have been hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of Coke, Pepsi etc in those skips), at the ticket entrance, we moved around the outside of the place quickly, visiting the toilet, refreshment stalls and merchandising stalls, as we went. The toilets were disgusting, they consisted of a long metal row of seats with flimsy partitions, suspended over a shallow channel which then went off to a tank. So, as you were sat there, you could see everyone else’s business floating by. I had worked with my arms stuck down aircraft toilets, pulling out sanitary towels and nappies covered in God knows what, so I was used to this sort of thing, and even I felt sick.

We chose a vantage point, one that we knew we would have to be in for a long time. It was about 1230, and as you look out from the stage, centrally there were two tents, a small one about 100 metres from the stage, and a bigger one about 250 metres from the stage. We were about halfway between the front tent and a stage left lighting tower, about 120 metres in a straight line away from the stage. MTV was a new thing in those days, and it was being broadcast via the sound system and a huge screen suspended above the centre of the stage. First band on, at about 2pm was a group called ‘Belouis Some’ and they absolutely shit. The crowd were throwing 2 litre Lemonade bottles at the stage, with such intensity that you could hardly see the stage. Of course, none of these bottles ever got as far as the stage, they were landing on the crowd in front, who were picking them up and throwing them back from where they came from. There was then about an hour’s gap before Status Quo came on. I could live with that, they had the crowd bouncing up and down, playing their inimitable style of 12-bar blues. At one point, one of their roadies was spotted 85 ft up in the air on top of the ‘Star vision’ screen, with a big cardboard cut-out of a guitar, head-banging to one of their songs. The crowd went wild, and Quo though it was them that had made the crowd wild. When they found out in the reviews of the gig, they apparently sacked the roadie.

Backstage, there were funfairs, including dodgems, beer tents and lots of other amusements for the hangers-on and record company exec’s who were allowed there. Throughout the afternoon, helicopters were flying over, filming the crowd, I presumed, but on a couple of occasions, two flew close together over the crowd, and the crowd was shouting at them, but I didn’t know why until months later when ‘Live Magic’ was released, and you could make out all the logo’s on the side of it. It was in fact bringing Queen into the venue. An hour after Quo had finished (they were flying off to do the second of three gigs that day, to Switzerland), Big Country took to the stage. Now to me, all their stuff sounds the same, so I found them boring and was rather glad when they had eventually finished.

At around 8.50 pm, ambient light was starting to fade off, and the muzak they had been feeding us faded out. The crowd suddenly surged forward, and packed so tight, you could nearly tell what religion the guy was, standing behind you. The familiar ‘God moves in mysterious ways’ intro to ‘One Vision’ came out of the sound system at about twice the volume of anything previously. And the crowd was really getting into it now, bouncing up and down, clapping, and on the final keyboard chord before the guitar, Freddie appeared and the crowd went completely ballistic (If you hear the ‘Live Magic’ album, turn it up as loud as you possibly can stand. Shut your eyes and imagine a fifth of a million people in a relatively small field all around you! All pushing into you. All going mental. You just can’t buy this, really it IS quite unique).

Just before the end of the song I remember looking around at the crowd behind me. As far as the eye could see, was just a huge sea of people, and I just thought “F*CKING HELL!!!!!!!!”. As most of the songs on ‘Live Magic’ ARE Knebworth Park (the exceptions being ‘Under Pressure’ & ‘A Kind Of Magic’ – Budapest; ‘Is This The World We Created’ – 1st night at Wembley; and ‘Hammer To Fall’ - 2nd night at Wembley), I won’t try to explain each song. Suffices to say, that they played very well, the show was excellent and by the time ‘God Save The Queen’ came on, my legs felt like they were falling off. As soon as ‘GSTQ’ finished, all the lights went out, and you had nearly 200,000 standing in a field in the pitch black of night. I have never been that scared of being in a middle of a tragedy, as that moment, in my life. The crowd, carried you out of the place shuffling like a penguin, because there wasn’t enough room to walk. My wife and I were gripping each others hands so tight, in the fear of getting separated, that we were squeezing the blood out of them.

Eventually after about 20 minutes of this, we made it out of the field, and you had room to actually see your feet, if it hadn’t been dark. Now started the search through four huge very dark car parks trying to pick out a particular needle in a haystack of similar needles. After about 2 hours, we had a stroke of luck, and it was luck because we could easily have been there all night looking, we stumbled across our poor old car, and just sat in it for another three hours as nothing was moving out of the car park very quickly. We found out the next day, that the Police were looking for a murder weapon, as a fan had been stabbed and had bled to death about 50 metres behind us, at about the time in ‘One Vision’ that I had looked around. Still, as they say, one goes, and somewhere another arrives, as a woman had given birth in the crowd at Knebworth, as well.

This was the last time that a paying audience saw Queen live on stage, and forms an indelible memory in my head. You can watch this sort of stuff on video, and say, “Yeah, that was good!”, but you miss the thing as a total experience. Being there is just on a totally different level, and how it connects in your head. Everytime, I see ‘The Show Must Go On’ video, and you have that part where the helicopter is behind and over the stage at Knebworth as Queen take to the stage, I still get a bit teary eyed, the emotion of the event is still THAT strong after 15 years. I hope that I have put this event into words that reflect the gravity of it all.
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Milton Keynes '82

Postby Kes » Wed Feb 22, 2006 7:03 pm

QUEEN – Milton Keynes Bowl. Buckinghamshire, UK. June 5th, 1982

At the time of this gig, I was living in Scotland, only about five miles from the Mull Of Kintyre. We travelled down a couple of days before, so the M-I-L (bless her soul) could look after our daughter (yeah, she was a tad too young then to take to a Queen gig). The weather on the journey up to Milton Keynes was generally sunny, but with showers, and I think that summed up a lot of the day. If you weren’t sweating in the heat, and squinting from the sunlight, you were getting p*ssed on by the heavens. Getting through the ticket gate, the place was fairly empty when we got in. The front area around the stage had just a couple of hundred there, and some others had already picked out somewhere to sit on the horseshoe shaped hill that created ‘the bowl’, but otherwise we could choose where we went. We chose to be fairly central to the stage, maybe a little off-centre to Brian’s position at stage left. It was the first open-air, I’d ever been to, and so I was a little surprised by how much ambient light was exposed behind the stage as you looked through it. I thought it would all be screened off. Sorry, if my knowledge of the support bands is sketchy, but I wasn’t particularly familiar with that much of their material at the time.

First band on, were Julian Cope’s band with a brass section, ‘The Teardrop Explodes’, which at the time, I thought was a strange choice by the concert promoters, as all the other acts were basically rock bands. So, despite a hostile audience, Julian did quite well, heading some of the empty lemonade bottles back in the direction they had come from. He rattled out his hits like ‘Reward’, ‘Treason’, and ‘Passionate Friend’, and I thought did really well, in the circumstances. I seem to remember him also signing off his set, with a smile and a “F*ck you lot, too” comment, or something similar.

In between acts we were treated to a bit of a bland disco, playing stuff that no-one seemed to know, the highlight of which was the odd ‘Rolling Stones’ single, that at least people in the audience stood a chance of knowing.

Next on (I seem to remember they were next, anyway) were Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, who did a fairly OK set, though I only really remember their encore of ‘I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’, an old Arrows song, which they’d covered and had a big hit with. It was rumoured that Robert Plant was backstage, but he never came on at all during the course of the afternoon.

About halfway through the day, they had a PA asking for someone to go to the backstage gate. Later, when I found out who Jim Jenkins was, something in my mind connected this PA with him, but I don’t think I’ve ever asked him to confirm this.

The other support band were ‘Heart’, with Ann and Nancy Wilson. They were still not what you’d call an established mainstream act in the UK at that time, and were yet to have the phenomenal chart successes of the ‘Heart’ and ‘Bad Animals’ albums. Still, they played all the better stuff of the earlier CBS albums, and so I remember, finished their set with a Led Zeppelin song (Rock ‘n’ Roll, I think it was), to ‘tip their hats’ to Mr. Plant backstage.

I still remember quite a buzz coming from the crowd behind us, and it eventually filtered through that it was thought that Queen had just arrived by helicopter.

The stage itself had four interesting devices hanging off chains at various points from the stage gantry. These items looked like futuristic single-seated vehicles, and it turned out that they were all mini spot-light rigs, each individually operated by a guy inside. It was still quite light when the band everyone had come to see, hit the stage. Watching through the subsequent video footage, I can explain that while you hear the creaking and thunder stuff, then these little light rigs are starting to flash their lights, and are being hoisted into the main of the light rig. They each went up and down at various points of Queen’s set. The crowd compressed a bit, and I suppose we were about twenty feet or so from the stage.

Set-list from repeated TV version.

The Hero
We Will Rock You
Play The Game
Staying Power
Somebody To Love
Now I’m Here/Dragon Attack
Love Of My Life
Save Me
Instrumental Inferno
Under Pressure
Fat Bottomed Girls
Bohemian Rhapsody
Tie Your Mother Down
We Will Rock You
We Are The Champions
God Save The Queen

In addition to the above, on the night, they also definitely played ‘Action This Day’, the ‘Brighton Rock solo’, and ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’, as well as Brian playing a very brief snippet from ‘Las Palabras De Amor’ on an acoustic guitar. There might actually be one or two extra tracks, in addition to the above, but it’s so long ago now, I can’t remember them.

I won’t bother reviewing the whole set-list, as you can all watch the video and see for yourselves. But, I remember Freddie making some quip at the beginning of ‘Crazy Little Thing’, along the lines of “A few years ago, I only knew about three chords on a guitar”. I shouted back something mildly derisive and abusive, which seemed to stop Freddie in his tracks. He smiled, repeated what I said with a laugh, and then continued the song. The whole song was edited out of the version that got televised, much to my disappointment. Overall, it was a fairly good gig on the night, with a good atmosphere (ALL Queen gigs were good), but it probably looks a lot better on the video, than it really was, if you were there. In all honesty, Knebworth was by far, a much more impressive gig, in atmosphere, performance and pure scale.

On trying to get out the place, my poor old car over-heated Embarassed

Another 'being-there-or-being-square-your-guy-on-the-spot' report. (C)2004 Kessie@QOL.
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