Live At Wembley Stadium 25th Anniversary: Peter Freestone Interview
Did Freddie ever give any indication of intent for the Live Shows following on from the Live Aid triumph?
I don’t think the band were very sure of themselves as Queen as they approached Live Aid. They hadn’t worked together for quite a while, so this would really be a try out. As history has proved, it was one of the highlights of their career. It showed them they still had a lot to give. There were no immediate plans…’Ok, let’s pick up where we left of’, but they did plan to record together – One Vision - and then the thoughts of Magic Tour started to gel. I remember Freddie felt a bit wary of the whole touring thing again, but when the mention of a stadium tour emerged he felt the old tingle of excitement start.
It was a real re-boot for the band, was he aware of the opportunity in front of him with the Magic Tour?
When the stadiums part was mentioned, Freddie was up for it. He was always prepared for a challenge, and as Queen always wanted things BIGGER, BRIGHTER and LOUDER, this was definitely the way to go, once more making Rock history.
The return of the band to the UK to play the two Wembley shows must have been a big deal for Queen, and Freddie in particular?
Two nights at Wembley Stadium really was a double-edged sword for Freddie. Who wouldn’t consider this event to be a big deal. Most bands now would be happy for one night! The down-side was that it was England’s capital city, and as everybody knows, that audience is the hardest to please. Throughout Queen’s career, London audiences have been fickle. They get every band in the world performing there, and expect total perfection from home grown groups. Queen’s performances over the two days, as usual, won the crowd over.
Do you think Freddie was proud of the fact his hometown shows at Wembley were both sold out?
As I said before, most bands would have a hard time selling one show at Wembley. Remember, in 1986, these were real events, something spectacular, and to sell out two shows in such a short time was truly incredible. Of course Freddie was proud!
Was Freddie happy to be home after the European shows?
Even though there were still shows to do, being home made Freddie much more comfortable. Like all of us coming home from a holiday…. as wonderful as the holiday is, it is great to feel the comforts of home surrounding you once more. Also he was able to spend time with his all important cats, which he couldn’t fly around the world to be with him!
Did he ask for anything special in the build up to the Wembley shows...a particular meal for instance?
Other than the fact that this was WEMBLEY and Freddie knew each show would be very hard, he treated it like all shows. Every show was important for Freddie, as this was the way he could communicate with the fans… give them something back. He had a light meal earlier in the afternoon to prepare himself, as he knew he would eat something more substantial after the show.
I guess you would have traveled with Freddie to the venue for both gigs. How was he?
On the Friday, Freddie was quite quiet, thinking about what was to come? He was also irritated, because he had heard reports about the not so nice weather due for the show! For the second night, Freddie had hired a coach to take a large group of friends to Wembley, including some friends he had flown over from USA. He was quite excited, as he already knew what was expected after the first show.
What did you talk about on the way?
He talked very little the first day, but on the second, in the bus, his excitement took over and he would go from group to group, making everybody laugh and ensure they were having a good time!
How was the vibe backstage before the shows, the feeling is that it was quite celebratory...
Queen was coming to the end of one of their most successful tours ever. They were playing two sold out Wembley Stadiums and had the prospect of Knebworth Park in the future. They were feeling elated!
What were your own impressions about how the band were doing those nights?
For me it was great to see them on such a huge stage with such an amazing response from the crowds. Each of them played to their best, but at the end it did seem to take a lot out of Freddie. Because of the size of the venue, London, all the variables, Freddie was giving 110%!
What were you up to when the band was actually playing?
For the first show, I just sort of wandered around back stage, for the second I sat in the Royal Box with Freddie’s friends, making sure they had everything they needed.
How did Freddie seem after the concerts, both immediately, and at the party?
The adrenalin kept Freddie going. As he was after all his shows, he re-called any obvious mistakes, shouting or congratulating, depending on the circumstances. He had a good time at the party, because he felt the shows had been successful and he could relax as they were over. Normally he would have preferred to have been out with his close friends, but this time it really was a time of celebration for the whole band…Queen were back!
Did it take him long to wind down? From what we know Freddie was always up for a party...
After any show, Freddie would remain active for anything up to 6 hours before exhaustion over-took the adrenalin. Even after Freddie had left the party, he was up with his friends at Garden Lodge re-calling some of the most exciting events over the last couple of days! The house was ringing with laughter as he was parodying himself on stage, asking how some of the things he did were even possible!!
What was the Mercury household like in the immediate aftermath of the The Magic tour? Was there a come-down period required for Freddie?
Freddie was tired. This tour had certainly taken it’s toll. Because of the venues, he had had to give so much more for each show than usual. While he was able to live on the post tour high for a while, knowing he had time to relax, Freddie was not someone who could take easily to lying around at home doing nothing. Soon there were plans afoot to take on his new project…a covers album!
Freddie was certainly at one of his peaks in 86, do you think he gave even more than ever with a view to taking some time off anyway?
Freddie always gave his all for any show. This was Freddie’s chance to give all the fans something back for all they had given him! He had given some of the performances of his life as Queen had re-emerged after their previous sabbatical, I think, knowing that he would have some time to charge his Queen batteries. While his solo work was very important to Freddie, Queen was the source of his energy, and he always knew that!
Live At Wembley Stadium - 25th Anniversary Edition is released on September 5th on 2DVD and 2DVD/2CD