Fri Apr 01, 2005 2:39 pm
As promised, here is my take on the Brixton Academy gig from Monday night. First, the setlist, which was as follows:
Reaching Out (Paul Rodgers solo)
Tie Your Mother Down
Little Bit Of Love
I Want To Break Free
Fat Bottomed Girls
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Seagull (Paul Rodgers - acoustic guitar and Roger Taylor - bongos)
'39 (Brian May vocals/acoustic)
Love Of My Life (BM vocals/acoustic)
Hammer To Fall (Slow/Fast Version - BM/PR vocals)
These Are the Days Of Our Lives (RT vocals)
Radio Ga Ga (RT vocals)
Can't Get Enough Of Your Love
I'm In Love With My Car (RT vocals)
I Want It All (BM vocals)
A Kind Of Magic
Bohemian Rhapsody (Freddie video vocals/PR)
The Show Must Go On
Feel Like Makin' Love
All Right Now
We Will Rock You
We Are The Champions
I queued outside Brixton Academy for just over 2 hours, and got myself a great spot fairly near the front of a packed out audience, just a few feet away from Brian May's mike.
Overall I would say that Queen were good, but not great. The intro music was a major mistake. The lights went down at 8.10pm, and over the p.a. came the lost "Track 13" from the Made in Heaven album, which is over 22 minutes of mood new-age style music interspersed with out-takes of Freddie Mercury in the studio. And at Brixton they played the whole bloody lot. The crowd were already restless when that finally finished and more intro music came from the p.a. - this time some sort of mix of Puff Daddy's Come With Me and Just Lose It by Eminem. So all in all the intro music was a staggering 26 minutes!
Finally Paul Rodgers came out from behind the curtain covering the stage to sing Reaching Out, before Brian joined him with the opening chords to Tie Your Mother Down. At this point the place erupted and it was fantastic. Everyone was punching the air in true rock style. Paul Rodgers could not stop smiling, he was completely taken aback, and you could tell from Brian's face that he too was feeling the emotion of the moment. Unbelievable.
The setlist needs a little work, in my humble opinion. The gig was too stop-start overall to really work. Roger Taylor's solo spot was interrupted by Can't Get Enough of Your Love, before Paul went off again for Roger to continue. Also the slow bluesy first two verses of Hammer to Fall just doesn't work at that point in the gig. And yes, Rodgers did forget a couple of lyrics, to Hammer to Fall and The Show Must Go On, but then Roger Taylor slipped up on the lyrics to his own song I'm in Love With My Car. The band seemed nervous at times with Rodgers constantly using his autocue and looking around at the band to seek reassurance. But this was a fanclub gig and having things to iron out is to be expected.
The good points were: Tie Your Mother Down, I Want to Break Free (which completely stunned Paul Rodgers and he allowed the crowd to sing most of the verses), Love of My Life (which Brian May sang seated with an empty stool next to him in a clear tribute to Freddie), Can't Get Enough of Your Love (just a great song), A Kind of Magic (musically the best version I have heard), Bohemian Rhapsody, The Show Must Go On and the Feel Like Making Love / All Right Now first encore.
Bohemian Rhapsody deserves special mention. It was inspired. Of course, regular attendees of Elvis the Concert will be well used to this, but Queen took the inspired approach of having Mercury appear on the video screen (from the Live at Wembley DVD) singing the verse solo, then the band joined in live for the second verse, left the stage for the operatic bit and returned for Paul Rodgers to sing the finale. It was a stunner and there was not a dry eye in the house.
Overall, then, I am very glad I went, and am going to see them again in Hyde Park in July. They were nervous, and some things need to be tightened up, but as I said that is to be expected. They are still Queen and they still sound like Queen. Paul Rodgers is no Freddie Mercury, but to his credit he knows it and plays to his own strengths. Fair play to him for doing it, it took some bottle, and he was very appreciative of the crowd's support. Indeed there was no negativity from the crowd towards him - none at all. It is well known that Freddie Mercury was an admirer of Rodgers' voice. Roger Taylor looked knackered at the end, but he gave his drumming 150% and was as good as he ever was. They were on stage (not including the intro music) for around 2 hours 15 minutes. I would rate the gig at 8 out of 10, but it was still a treat to be there.
Fri Apr 01, 2005 11:37 pm
Excellent review, Stephen. Thanks for posting!