Saturday, April 21, 2012

NOBODY LEFT TO BELIEVE IN:  Twenty years ago this weekend, a veritable Who's Who of British music gathered at London's Wembley Stadium to pay tribute to the late Freddie Mercury. Mental Floss has the clips and stories.


  1. The George Michael performance made me tear up. Wow.

  2. I bought the DVD of this tribute concert just so I could guarantee that I'd be able to watch Queen/David Bowie/Annie Lennox do "Under Pressure" whenever I wanted. Chills, every time.  It really starts to soar just after the 3 minute mark in this clip:" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="170" height="140

  3. isaac_spaceman3:38 PM

    Well, that just sent me down a deep Queen hole.  Fucking Freddie Mercury, man.  I'll say it again, there never was another voice like that in rock and roll.  I think that Elton/Axl did a creditable job singing Bohemian Rhapsody, George Michael did a very nice job with Somebody to Love, and Annie Lennox did a great job with both Mercury's vocal and hinting at his showmanship on Under Pressure, but to me, those are all just reminders of the totally unique original.  Queen was never my favorite band, and therefore Mercury was never my favorite singer, and I always believed in the old adage about how no matter how good you are, there is always somebody better, but I really do not think that was true with Mercury.  There is literally nobody who could do Mercury better than Mercury. 

    And then watching those old videos of Mercury, it wasn't just his voice.  Like Jagger, his stage show is unsubtly ridiculous, but he is so completely committed to every move, every gesture, that it's riveting.  When he throws a fist up, which he does a lot, it's like the motion starts in his toes and straightens through his entire body, an electrocution.  And when he pulls the fist back, it's a whip, a slash.  Every step is a stomp or a stride or a sweep or a strut.  Oh, you wear spandex pants?  Then I'm going to wear a spandex jumpsuit, and it's going to be half black and half white and it's going to have a cut-out to show off my nipples and the hair on my chest:  beat that. 

    And yet, the weirdest thing is that I know virtually nothing at all about his personal life.  Almost as complete a blank as a celebrity that I have ever seen. 

  4. Watts4:11 PM

    I stumbled on a YouTube playlist the other day (which I thought I subscribed to, but YouTube is styming me today) that was HD videos of the Queen Live at Wembley from 1986.  Made my whole week.  

    As much as I love Freddie Mercury and agree that no one was better for Queen than him, I got a whole new appreciation for Brian May from this solo:

    I know it's a 9 minute guitar solo, and it doesn't hit its truest stride until 2/3 of the way through, but it is so worth your time.

    I remember hearing that Brian May made his own guitars to get that distinctive sound.   I believe it of a man who went on to get a PhD in astrophysics.

  5. KCosmo's neighbor7:17 PM

    If you asked me if I was a big fan of Freddy Mercury, I'm not sure I'd say yes. However, those clips from that concert reminded me of the music I grew up with. Real music. With lyrics. No back-up dancers needed. There are few people today who can pull off moving performances in the way that Elton, Annie Lenox, George Michael, David Bowie, and the other greats can. Even Liza sounded great at that concert--who would have placed her in that crowd? At this point, there are few singers whose songs we will be singing in 20 years. I'm not much of a music snob, but my husband has been sure to fill our home, our iPods, and our piano books with great music from the past. Thankfully my kids can sing along to Fleetwood Mac, Queen, Elton John, etc. I can go on and on...but I'll stop. But one more thing--can you believe how young Elton and Liza looked. Wow...20 years does a lot to a person. Thanks for the great post and trip down memory lane.

  6. isaac_spaceman10:52 AM

    I don't agree with this -- there is plenty of great music out there, with lyrics and no backup dancers and moving performances and all that stuff.  The downside of the breakdown of major labels and a hit-making system is that it imposes greater search costs on consumers.  The upside is that there as a much wider range of choices.  If you can't find what you're looking for in music, you're just not looking hard enough.  The only exception, and I do not mean this as a criticism, is if you're looking for giant Fleetwood Mac/Michael Jackson/Eagles-like popularity, where there's a communal aspect of listening.  Rock stars are smaller now than they used to be, and there certainly was something to that feeling of massing in a concrete dome for a giant concert.  There isn't a Kingdome any more, but even if there were, I don't imagine that anybody would be able to pack it these days like they did for the Rolling Stones in 1984 or for that Who/Clash tour back in the early 1980s. 

  7. Anonymous5:27 PM

    "I always believed in the old adage about how no matter how good you are, there is always somebody better, but I really do not think that was true with Mercury. There is literally nobody who could do Mercury better than Mercury."

    This. Like hm or not, it simply cannot be denied. There is no argument anyone can make. Best front man ever. Voice unlike any other... there will not be another like him.

  8. Nancy5:27 PM

    ... aaaand that was me.

  9. Well, no band with an average age under 45, or outside the realm of country music where stadiums are packed summer after summer -- except for that Jay-Z/Eminem two-stadium tour last summer. That's all I can think of. 

    That said, if the Black Keys are already selling out arenas, rock just might get big again sooner than we think.