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What DVD was invented for
on 23 October 2004
QUEEN LIVE AT WEMBLEY STADIUM
1986 was without doubt Queen's year. Appearing at a sold-out Wembley Stadium, Queen are shown here at their most successful point in what was already an illustrious career. The band had stolen the day at Live Aid the previous year at the same venue, and these dates were the most anticipated of 1986.
Typically of Queen, the show was put on in the grandest manner. The largest stage set (160 feet wide!) an immense bank of coloured lights, and state-of-the art sound and vision system to cater for the 72,000 fans who had made the pilgrimage. The cameras seemed to be everywhere; stage side, in front, above, even helicopter shots looking over the stadium. It was as though they KNEW one day there would be a suitable medium to release this footage on.
But what of the band themselves - by this point the group were one of the very few great British rock bands of the 70s still playing, remarkably with not one change in personnel from their debut album. They had survived glam, punk, disco and New Romantic to emerge as the UK's biggest rock act. The set they played on the Magic tour was carefully considered, with old material sitting comfortably alongside more recent.
You see the approach to Wembley Stadium as the intro plays to 'One Vision' before the camera pans across an empty stadium, and time-lapse footage of the stage being constructed and the fans pouring in. The camera then switches to the stage, and first to emerge is the great Freddie Mercury, arm aloft, bestriding this huge setting. Flanked, as ever, by the reassuring sight of Brian May, complete with curly mop of hair and trusty Red Special in hand, and 'quiet man' John Deacon on the other side, and backed by the blonde powerhouse Roger Taylor, they launch into the main body of the song, the lead-off single from their then current album 'A Kind of Magic'. A succession of oldies follow; they are even confident enough to resurrect their old 70s set-closer 'In The Lap of The Gods...Revisited' (owners of 'Sheer Heart Attack' will know that is the correct title) three songs in - you see clearly the huge crowd swaying along to the 'whoa, whoa' chorus and already they are in the thrall of the majestic Mercury.
The many cameras cut often from Freddie to Roger, Brian to John, but this is far from distracting; it seems to add to the 'feel' of almost being there in the stadium with the crowd, and serves to illustrate that they really were a BAND, and not just the Freddie Mercury show, with great shots of the whole group putting their all into the show. There is even a 'multi angle' feature' on the second disc, with a camera trained (mainly) on each individual band member for four songs, and it is possible to see just how hard the guys rocked out behind Freddie.
With a long set that covered many bases, they even played a light-hearted medley of rock 'n' roll standards before bringing back the heavy artillery towards the end of the set, the band illustrated perfectly why they were so enduringly popular.
This DVD features the complete set for the first time (previously available was a 75 minute edited version) along with the second disc packed with goodies. There is a documentary, the aforementioned 'multi angle' feature, new interviews with Brian and Roger, plus tour manager Gerry Stickells and video director Gavin Taylor. If the whole of the Saturday set was not enough, then there is even some footage included from the Friday concert, when the director used the show to rehearse his filming, plus home video footage of the band rehearsing, previously held by a private collector.
Although the best equipment then available, and plenty of it was used to cover this show, inevitably the footage shows its age when compared to modern digital video - nevertheless the quality still stacks up well and as an added bonus on this release, the soundtrack is available in DTS as well as regular stereo.
If you are a Queen devotee doubtless you are already in possession of this DVD, the more casual fan can buy with confidence. If you are new to Queen and perhaps not familiar with what they were about, watch this disc just once and you will understand. It is painfully clear from watching just ten minutes of this concert just what we lost when Freddie left us; his voice, charisma, showmanship and stage presence were beyond compare, and his ability to enrapture the largest audiences is sorely missed in these days of anonymous arena acts.
Remember Freddie this way: treat yourself to this DVD. You deserve it.