Freddie over-singing live in the 80s?

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Freddie over-singing live in the 80s?

Postby BrandonSquared » Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:00 am

Freddie's dynamic, kaleidoscopic voice has and will continue to be discussed at length. But this is a topic I was wondering if anyone felt similarly about. We all know his voice/vocal style changed in 1980 to fit his more "macho" persona and while his studio performances remained exquisite (at least until 1986), I can't help but feel unsatisfied with much of his live ones during this decade. I understand that live performances have another kind of life then when you are recording privately in a studio to tape a song's "definitive" version, but I'm not getting any real nuance or aural delight when he sang that decade. I hate that I feel this way because his voice was so technically powerful and developed but he was shouting or barking so often that it put me off. It just seems like he was desperate to put behind his more flamboyant style and attack the 80s with a masculine edge. Even the fast, hard rockers aren't given the same finesse that made them satisfying in the studio. His voice always had an emotional dimension but he was shaving off the soul.

A reviewer once said that Freddie's live work was a weak shadow of his studio capabilities and for the 80s shows that's where my thinking is. His 70s voice (live and studio) is much more nuanced, expressive, shaded, enigmatic, etc. I even largely prefer his voice on the first album where he wasn't totally developed vocally yet (I'll take angelic falsettos over powerful barking any day) over his later stuff. I'm always surprised to see people in comments on here or YouTube saying how they love Queen live more than in the studio. Fred and the rest were immaculate in the 70s in both formats (though on average I do prefer a lot more of their studio work; the intricate arrangements and vocals sound much more focused on record) so I can understand the fan opinion there but can't see it in the following decade.

Does anyone else feel this way? Am I a bad fan?
 
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Re: Freddie over-singing live in the 80s?

Postby fosterol » Mon Jun 11, 2018 8:58 pm

Couldn't agree more. Though I feel its 85/86 for me. The lack of subtlety, the shouted break free is just ghastly. Rio 1985 was pretty ropey and the magic tour, though I loved going to knebworth I've never found the Wembley gig that listenable. Montreal was far superior, as was the MK Bowl. For me at least. That said, Live Aid wasn't half pretty darned good, however if he had sustained over two hours I think the story would have been the same
 
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Re: Freddie over-singing live in the 80s?

Postby devogue » Mon Jun 11, 2018 9:20 pm

I have to agree and it first struck me when I had heard the 1974/1985 spliced version of Keep Yourself Alive on Rare Live - the 1974 version is measured, lyrical, controlled yet lush, the 1985 version is shocking - almost thrash like, sped up to a ridiculous degree and Freddie almost breathless as he roars it at the lower end of his register.

When you listen to earlier live versions of We Will Rock You the full colour of Freddie’s voice is apparent in a melodically simple vocal line, but by the 1980s it had become a single verse monotone slamfest - would it have hurt Fred so much just to leap that single interval during the verse?

When I think about it, Freddie’s 80s live voice has that cod-operatic tenor feel that is realised most fully on Barcelona, it’s powerful, and I can understand its projection in vast arenas and its role in holding the crowd, but it’s frankly nowhere near as exciting as his seventies live voice.

Also, I don’t think the excuse of protecting his voice or whatever washes here - the Magic Tour was far less strenuous than earlier tours in terms of gigs.
 
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Re: Freddie over-singing live in the 80s?

Postby Echoplex » Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:38 pm

His 70's vocal ability was still there in the 80's Somebody to Love and Love Of My Life from Milton Kynes is proof.what I think happened was that by 1986 the show was geared to stadium sized venues and so the band, rightly, decided that a lot of the subtitles of their music and vocals would not translate to an audience on that scale.

Freddie also modified his visual performance too, for the same reason.

There are examples of this on the 81 south Americsn dates too in those huge stadiums and again at Rio in 85. Looking back now we can see the differences and judge what we prefer, and viewing on a small screen, TV or laptop, makes it more obvious, but on the night in 1986 it worked at every venue.
 
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Re: Freddie over-singing live in the 80s?

Postby VaudevilleDeMille » Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:56 pm

Certainly, by the Wembley show Freddie's voice was hoarse and less animated, especially during the earlier numbers but I guess as some sort of compromise he made up for it by being just that little bit more physical.

He still maintained his power during the later numbers though and his improv.

Any tracks at Wembley originally recorded after '80 he sang fairly well. Before that though is a mixed bag as his voice had changed so much by that point.

His voice certainly 'reset' itself somewhat by the time of Innuendo though, he was able to hit a higher octage again without struggling.
 
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Re: Freddie over-singing live in the 80s?

Postby BrandonSquared » Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:30 pm

His early 80s shows are much better than his later 80s ones, but it still isn't as satisfying as it should be. I'm astounded at the change from 1979 to 1980 - 79 he sounds like his usual self and his live work is full of the nuance and expressiveness and then just a year later his new voice is fully formed. Did he consciously change the way he approached a melody/lyric or did the smoking have an immediate effect? When I want to hear a song from either decade I go for the studio recording and I'm usually satisfied. For me, the musical and vocal performances on record are the best of whatever song and are the definitive versions in my mind. So when a song from the 70s is sung live in the 80s it feels off and not "right". I like the smaller venues of the mid 70s (Rainbow, Odeon) where the performances can match or even be better than the recorded version - it has great sound, it's Freddie in his prime and the rest of the guys are tightly focused on recreating the original song without any distracting detours (for the most part).
 
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Re: Freddie over-singing live in the 80s?

Postby devogue » Tue Jun 12, 2018 9:21 pm

VaudevilleDeMille wrote:Certainly, by the Wembley show Freddie's voice was hoarse and less animated, especially during the earlier numbers but I guess as some sort of compromise he made up for it by being just that little bit more physical.

I think this is important - as we all know, Freddie wanted to get away from piano driven songs so he could move around on stage more. This increased physicality (and the stages getting larger and larger) would obviously affect his vocal performance so he compensated accordingly.

As fabulous as Freddie’s voice was, like all singers he would want to avoid the dreaded Simon Le Bon Live Aid scrakes when performing live, so he adjusted his voice.

A really good example is Who Wants to Live Forever - on the album version his timbre ranges from open, gorgeously breathy verse work to intense, controlled rasping on the choruses. But when he sings it live at Wembley (which is actually a quite beautiful performance) he uses a closed cod operatic tenor voice that enables safety and control - if you sing along to it notice how your vocal cords constrict and become “tighter”, and therefore easier to pitch. He could let fly in the studio because a bad take could be wiped in seconds instead of being imprinted on the minds of tens of thousands.
 
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Re: Freddie over-singing live in the 80s?

Postby nicksmithworld » Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:43 pm

Good thread, I agree with most of the points made, a lot of the subtle nuance was lost live in the 80's, however a factor no-one has mentioned is the smoking, Freddie adopted this horrible habit later in life. Smoking dries out the vocal chords and would prompt a different approach/response. It gave him more of a raspy sound, as opposed to the rounded almost angelic voice on the softer songs.

Another point, nearly all of the tribute band 'Freddies' do the 80's voice and not the 70's..is that because it's (relatively) easier?
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Re: Freddie over-singing live in the 80s?

Postby action » Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:52 am

as always, I'll be in the minority here but I think freddie's live peak was the wembley 86 concerts.

so much epicness in his voice. the voice of an epic hard rock band.

Any live show, by any singer, should be measured against wembley 86 vocals.

studio, I completely discard the 70s work. To me, that's a footnote. The real feddie can be heard from the game onwards. The definitive freddie studio work is "made in heaven". Best recorded freddie vocals ever.
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Re: Freddie over-singing live in the 80s?

Postby cmsdrums » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:27 am

I'm always staggered by the effect the partying must have had in the off year of 83.....whilst his voice and chosen style changed quite a bit from 80-82, on the Hot Space tour his voice is incredibly strong, and performances such as Somebody to Love and Save Me from Montreal and MK Bowl are amongst his very best. Yet by the time The Works tour comes around in 84 he sounds a shadow of his former self (although the ropey official recordings such as Rio and Tokyo do not help any of the band sound great though).

86 has highs and lows - it seems that he felt the effects of a full on tour more heavily than before (although 77/78/79 have similar gigs where he suffers), but there are still some strong performances, but yes, as stated above, nowhere near as nuanced and emotive. Was this a mental approach thinking that he needed to be more aggressive and brash in his delivery due to playing stadiums as opposed to theatres/clubs?
 
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Re: Freddie over-singing live in the 80s?

Postby Soul Brother » Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:28 pm

Freddie must have contracted HIV in the early 80s and it was beginning to affect him by 84-86. As he wasn't officially diagnosed at this time he was not receiving treatment. So his voice was suffering during live performances and the recording of A Kind Of Magic. I can't listen to One Year Of Love. Lovely song but such a strain for him to sing. His partying was probably at its peak during this period too (living in Munich and choosing to ignore the dangers around him and his own health status?) and he was drinking/drugging/smoking to excess.

After the Magic tour he knew he was ill, began treatment and we can hear improvement in his voice on The Miracle and Innuendo.
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Re: Freddie over-singing live in the 80s?

Postby The__KingOfRhye » Wed Jun 13, 2018 3:00 pm

action wrote:as always, I'll be in the minority here but I think freddie's live peak was the wembley 86 concerts


Not even his best vocal performance on the Magic Tour IMO. (and having heard various bootlegs and such things I've heard a few.) Or there's a few of the concerts from Japan in 1985 I've heard where he was just absolutely on.
 
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Re: Freddie over-singing live in the 80s?

Postby MillionaireWaltz'd » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:44 pm

action wrote:as always, I'll be in the minority here but I think freddie's live peak was the wembley 86 concerts.

so much epicness in his voice. the voice of an epic hard rock band.


Queen in the '80s were anything but a hard rock band. They were pop and pop rock at their heaviest in the 1980s.
 
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Re: Freddie over-singing live in the 80s?

Postby MillionaireWaltz'd » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:46 pm

action wrote:studio, I completely discard the 70s work. To me, that's a footnote. The real feddie can be heard from the game onwards.


Image
 
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Re: Freddie over-singing live in the 80s?

Postby action » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:17 am

MillionaireWaltz'd wrote:
action wrote:as always, I'll be in the minority here but I think freddie's live peak was the wembley 86 concerts.

so much epicness in his voice. the voice of an epic hard rock band.


Queen in the '80s were anything but a hard rock band. They were pop and pop rock at their heaviest in the 1980s.


put out the fire
tear it up
hammer to fall
machines
gimme the prize
was it all worth it
action this day (live)
princes of the universe
I want it all
party

in the 70s they had a few hard rock riffs, but the focus was on vaudeville / piano - ballet / opera / fantasy.

In the 80's they had seriously hard rocking songs like the ones I listed, and also live, the focus was shifting from piano to guitar and a hard rock voice
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