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The Girl In The Audience - Fan Feature by Patrick Lemieux

The Girl In The Audience

by Patrick Lemieux

“The chanting of the crowds both nights was so moving before and after the boys came out. It seemed as if once you could see Freddie, the entire place screamed with joy!”

By the end of 1981, it had been a busy year and a half for Freddie Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor. Queen released their album The Game in June of 1980, had been touring the world to promote it, had also completed work on the Flash Gordon soundtrack music and released that album, and returned to the studio to work on the follow up album which would become Hot Space. Roger recorded and released his own solo album in that time, as well, titled Fun In Space. The Hot Space sessions in Montreux in the summer of 1981 found Queen working with David Bowie and the two released the single “Under Pressure” in October, giving them another #1 hit while they were on the aptly named Gluttons For Punishment Tour in South America. Early November saw the release of their Greatest Hits album. 

The band had also agreed prior to this to allow the company Mobilevision to film them in concert. The resulting film would be toured by the company for paying audiences. Two special concerts were planned for November 24th and 25th for The Forum in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. 19 year old Sarah Bernard had no idea that attending the concerts would result in her being immortalized on film.

“I attended both nights for the Montreal shows, and was fortunate enough to be up front both nights,” says Sarah, “My sister Cathy and her friend Christian Giddings got three tickets for both nights and invited me to go, as they knew I was a fan, so I was lucky in that sense.”

Sarah goes on to explain, “I had been a Queen fan since the mid-1970s, when I received my first Queen album. It was Sheer Heart Attack, and it was given to me as a gift. I would often listen to certain songs and associate them with certain memories in my mind, and listening to Killer Queen always reminded me of the first time I played the album and broke in my record player at my best friend’s house. The album that I played the most in the ‘70s, however, was probably A Day at the Races. I had seen Queen two times before the Montreal shows. My father was taking care of his brother in Michigan in the late ‘70s while he recovered from a major work injury, and I tagged along when I could, so I was able to see Queen there in 1977 and again when we came for another visit in 1978.” 

At the Montreal shows, Sarah was able to make her way to a priceless spot perfect for taking pictures. “There was really nothing too difficult about getting to the front of the stage, other than waiting in line very early in the day, and simply playing by the rules of the venue. I’m sure there were reserved spots up front for professional photographers and media people outside of the film crew, but most people around me were simply fans,” she says, so when Queen launched into the fast version of “We Will Rock You” to start each concert, the only issue to emerge was, “just trying to keep your spot! My sister was right next to me when both shows started, but ended up a getting pushed to the side, and pulled away from me at both times! She was still able to stay very near the stage, and as far as I can remember, so was Christian!”

Throughout the concert film, which is edited together from both nights, Sarah can be glimpsed center stage in the audience, occasionally taking pictures. Unfortunately, she no longer has the photos she took at the shows. Sarah says, “They were not the greatest quality, but I was proud of them.”

Of the band’s performance, Sarah says of Freddie, “I recall thinking that he made it very hard to NOT watch him. He was a wonderful performer, and I was reminded of how incredibly he commanded the stage. It had been a few years since I’d seen them last, and I’d forgotten what a force he really was up there. In the two shows I’d seen before, I was not as close to the stage, but I was still enchanted by how he worked the crowd. It really was like he held us all in the palm of his hand. Like we were being manipulated, and we loved it! A feeling I’ve felt with very few other acts. Brian and Roger were just as swift and amazing as I’d remembered from the previous shows. Watching Roger drum was almost hypnotic! John always seemed like the quiet and reserved type in photos and magazines, but live on stage, he always shined!”

Sarah goes on to recall, “Towards the end of the first show, I had spent some time trying to get their attention for a wave or a smile, and I made eye contact with John who nodded at me and returned my smile, which made my night even better! I also remember getting goosebumps during a few numbers both nights and even in the two previous shows I’d seen. Most notably during, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’!”

Towards the middle of the concert each night came a song that over the last few tours had only just started becoming the crowd favourite it is today. Having recently toured South America, Queen saw the huge response to “Love Of My Life,” were it seemed that every member of the audience sang along at top volume. Freddie and Brian noticed at once the Canadian crowd preferred to mostly watch and listen. Sarah explains, “The attitude of the audience for both nights flowed with the songs being performed.”

At the end of “Love Of My Life,” the cameras captured a truly moving moment in Sarah’s reaction as she stands still and glassy-eyed amid the erupting audience around her. She remembers what was going through her mind in that moment, “Every time I heard ‘Love of My Life’, I felt a bit emotional. I had fallen in love with a man who I truly saw a future with, and who used to play a few songs to serenade me while we were dating. ‘Love of My Life’ was one of those songs, and both nights I can remember feeling like I was on the verge of very happy tears just thinking about my love. He was on my mind and in my heart at the time I was being filmed.”

Sarah didn’t know she specifically had been filmed in her moment of quiet reflection, “We did see the cameras at the shows, but I never really noticed them facing me. I assumed they were filming the crowd as a mass of people.”

As Queen finished what would be their last show of the year on the second night, and indeed the last show of an extended, exhaustive world touring schedule begun the previous June, the fans, including Sarah Bernard’s group, filed out of The Forum and into the cold Montreal night. 

“Those were my last two shows with Freddie,” Sarah says now, “I wish I’d made an effort to see them with Freddie again. I always figured there would be ‘more time.’”

Mobilevision released the concert film on VHS in 1984 and several more times on Laserdisc and DVD before Queen were finally able to acquire the material and release it under the official Queen banner in 2007. 

“I got a call from my cousin who happened to be in an electronics store at the time, telling me that I was on the ten big screen HD TVs they had in store,” Sarah explains. The year was 2009, the Montreal concerts a dim but happy set of memories for her, two of many artists’ concerts she’d attended over the years. “They had popped in the Montreal DVD and had been playing it on repeat for days on their TVs to show the pixel quality in the screens. At the time, I didn’t even own the DVD myself, and it had apparently been out for some time by then. My cousin bought a copy then and there and sent it to me to watch. I was shocked to see me there! My daughter and I visited my sister in America a few months ago and did see it in the Imax theater. My daughter got quite a kick out of seeing my ‘‘80s hair’ on the big screen! It’s a neat little story, and as another fan pointed out to me, this little cameo in the concert means I may no longer have the photos I took, but I have something just as lovely to keep as a memory on DVD!”

Patrick Lemieux is a Canadian artist and writer. He is co-author (with Adam Unger) of The Queen Chronology book, available at Amazon (http://tinyurl.com/phgjjaw), Barnes&Noble.com (http://tinyurl.com/p62gxvq) and Lulu.com (http://tinyurl.com/lbt9tzl). He has also written articles for Queen Online and the Official International Queen Fan Club. His other books include The Mike Oldfield Chronology and The Barenaked Ladies Chronology. He has published a collection of his artwork titled Play Of Light: The Art of Patrick Lemieux. You can follow him on Twitter @MadTheDJ and visit his blog: http://madthedj.wordpress.com/

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17 Comments

The Girl In The Audience - Fan Feature by Patrick Lemieux

Nicole

I'm am watching the 1981 Montreal show and saw this girls face and share a lot of the same sentiments as most here, the look on her face.... what a lucky girl! I was actually googling the and looking for the guy upfront, dead center with the camera imagining what his pictures must have came out looking like...nothing short of amazing. Then I found this..what a coincidence!

Herman Vanderheide

Having been a a life-long Queen fan, I always click whenever a Queen song shows up in an article.
This time it was an article of "10-Best Love Songs of All Time", with a YouTube Link to the Queen, Montreal Concert.
At the end of 'Love of My Life', I too was stunned by the look in Sarah's eyes.
Not only is she unaware the camera is filming her, the camera man / editor just KNEW they had a stunning shot there and then, with her being the center of the composition and the spotlight's glare right in her face. Unlike the person behind her, she doesn't shield her eyes from the glare.
Her bright eyes speak VOLUMES. The expression on her face is priceless and adds another dimension to the song we just heard.
Patrick Lemieux, thank you for finding Sarah and conducting the interview..., and above all, thank you for sharing it with us!

Joe Michaels

The look on Sarah's face after "Love of My Life" is precious. She looks sincerely moved by the performance. (Who wasn't?) I was fortunate to see Queen three times in Detroit. Lost interest in them during the Hot Space period…felt they band had really lost sight of its initial direction. Too bad. Now I feel the sense of loss for that decade of disinterest. One of the greatest bands ever. P.S. Where's the current day photo of Sarah??

james

For a change, a nice and interesting story to read on the site. Its mostly uninteresting these days, to be honest. Being a big fan of the former band, I do take a look now and then. I have seen the concert footage many times , and recall the image of the girl who tells her story here.

Queen were really on form at that time. Freddies voice is studio quality. I dont think they ever sounded this good live again. As time went on, Queen, it seems, favoured a harder sound , though I much prefer a polished sound as in this concert.

adnrch

I wonder how is it going with you now . I came here after watched love of my live montreal concert , and googling it after, because that woman on that frontline will be news. And exactly now I've already found it. :)

Louis Ammann, Montréal, Canada

Enfin, depuis le temps que je me demandais qui était cette charmante demoiselle hypnotisée par Queen...
J'étais là, ainsi qu'à trois autres spectacles au Forum et à celui avec Adam Lambert. Merci monsieur Lemieux.

Nidhi Sinha

This is a wonderful story.She is very lucky!!!!!!!!!!!.Though I am a teenager,I love QUEEN.......IT ROCKS AND IT WILL CONTINUE TO ROCK AS LONG QUEEN FANS ARE THERE.......

Donna Carlisle

I so enjoyed the article on /sara being in that front row seat at the rock montreal concert..I recognised her immediately from the video.

It is amazing for her to've not known she was being filmed and then see herself on the screen later. I think everyone that see's the video has wondered exactly what she was seeing and thinking . Turns out she liked John. see, no one would know that if she had not told us now. That is my favorite video concert of Queen..
Thank you, and So long..

fresh

Joe, nice photos but they're not from the Montreal 81 concerts are they????

CJ

What a great story! I was at the first of the two shows but unfortunately I was nowhere near the front. Still, it was a stunning spectacle and this concert film is my "claim to fame". I was lucky enough to see Queen 4 times: the Day at the Races tour (Calgary), the Game (Vancouver), this one in Montreal, and Hot Space (also in Montreal). Without a doubt, they were the best live band I ever saw, and I've seen a lot. Thanks to Sarah and to Patrick for bringing us this wonderful memory!

Karly Tkmk

The beautiful Sarah, who was lucky it.

I wish I fulfill my dream of coming Queen to Mexico.

Ana

Great story.
She´s so lucky!

Gavin James

its a wonderful story

joe gliozzo

Hi Patrick,
I just read this great story of "The Girl" and was really moved by it. I too, am a big Queen fan and have seen them live in concert many times in the 70's and 80's. I was fortunate enough to photograph most of those shows as an amateur but was able to get some really cool shots of not only Freddie but the rest of the band. I was wondering if there is a way to contact Sarah Bernard so that I could give her access to some of my photos? If not, here is my website http://www.joegliozzophotography.com/ and the Queen photos can be viewed under the "rock concert" tab. Thanks for your effort. Best Regards Joe G.

Patrick Lemieux

I'm glad people like the article!

The interview was conducted last week.

abhijeet

Amazing! when was the interview taken.

INNUENDO

LUCKY YOU !!!!

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