Pop's Grand Rulers (TV Times – 25th October 1986)Real Magic
On that July night, you could hear the sound a mile from Wembley Stadium, filling 'the air and throbbing down the dark streets. ~ We will, we will rock you 'It was the sound of British pop super-group Queen, boosted by half-a-million watts and an audience of 72,000, rocking their socks off. Nineteen television cameras were in and above the stadium to record the concert for this Saturday's C4 Tube special, Queen - Real Magic, which is being broadcast simultaneously in stereo' by almost every Independent Local Radio station around the country.
Turn on, tune in, and it is as if you were there, with lead singer Freddie Mercury strutting across the massive stag~ to the opening bars of Radio Ga Ga as 72,000 pairs of arms rise and fall in unison, and the hairs on the back of your neck begin to stand up.
'When the lights lit up the audience and we saw them, we could hardly go on playing,' says guitarist Brian May. 'We all just looked at each other and thought, "God, that is the most incredible thing." You can see all the hands moving in sync, but just slightly' delayed as you go further back into the audience - back for ever, it seems, until they are just these little, waving dots. To be on that stage then is the best feeling in the world.'
The concert, one of two Queen did at Wembley, was a highlight of an 11-country summer tour, the biggest the band has undertaken. They played stadiums. As one of the biggest successes of last years Live Aid spectacular, to raise money for famine-stricken Ethiopia, they could have filled the venues twice over, wherever they went.
'And our music lends itself to big stadiums,' says May.' 'It has always been dramatic and, in a strange way, it 'rises to the occasion it's bigger as the venue' gets bigger. In Freddie, we have the perfect frontman, one of the few who can reach out to a big audience.
'We didn't rush' into the' tour, not until a number of, things came together and we were ready internally. We are, not, getting any younger and our show is a very high-energy thing', especially for Freddie. In the early days, we used to do two shows, a night. Now; that would kill us.'
So was it true, that Mercury had to have his arm twisted' to do the' tour, had to be talked into it by the other members of the band -May, bass guitarist John Deacon and drummer Roger Taylor?
'Freddie was, ah, the last person to be keen,' says May. 'Put yourself in his position. He's the one who is going to get the most attention, the most praise, but also the most strife.
'Every time we go on tour, Freddie has to face all that again, has to screw up his courage. Once we decide to go, he is the one pushing us all on. But, for him it's like taking on a war.'
'The test of a great gig,' as Mercury says, 'is how much you have to do battle with the audience. It is a trial of strength between me and them.'
On stage at Wembley, he was winning all the way, bare-chested arrogant, sending up his image as a sort of gangster of camp.
When Queen were formed 15 years ago, he had been an art student and the other three members had science degrees. Yet they have, for the most part, gone along with him in good nature, even if there have been one or two mutterings at his wilder fantasies.
'The' theatrical element is part of 'Queen,' says; May, adding with a grin: 'But we' have managed to dispense with the frocks.
'And, of course, with four of us, we don't agree, on everything. We are very different personalities and, if you look at pictures of us, we all look as if we come from different groups. Not that we ever did have a uniform look, only a sort of theme of us as individuals.'
'There has always been talk about the group splitting up, fed by the fact that they all have their own, separate music careers. And, even on tour, they refuse to live in each other's pockets.
'If we are' thrown together too much, we can get on each other's nerves,' says May. 'We just drift together when it feels natural.
'Yet touring is definitely good for us. We have a common aim -to do the best possible show we can - and that is quite easy to come to an agreement about.
'Where it is harder is in the studio, because then we are breaking new ground and we have completely different ideas of the way things should be done. We rip each other apart so much it always, becomes ~difficult.
'We are all writers, and it is a democratic process deciding which songs go on album. If one 'of us feels really strongly about something, we will
generally make a lot of noise trying to persuade him he's wrong. But, in the end, it's a sort 'of voting situation.
'Everybody has to be represented because, if you don't get 'your voice as an individual in a group, it's the beginning of the end.' Once the Wembley gig was over, the road-crew set about dismantling the vast lighting set, which needed 15 trucks as transport. The crowd built itself into a traffic jam for miles around the stadium. Queen gave a party.
'You come off stage on a high, which is quite hard to deal with,' says May. 'For half-an-hour, you are physically exhausted, and then that seems to take care of itself and you are up for anything. That's one of the diseases of touring - you can't go to bed.
'So we usually go out, very often just for a nice meal, meet some people, listen to someone else~ music, have good conversations.
'Roger and I have 'long arguments about evolution or molecular structures, stuff like that. And, sometimes, there is a reason for having a party.'
At 3am, Mercury was up 6n a tiny stage, belting out a number with glam- rocker Gary Glitter~, pop-singer page three' girl Samantha Fox while the other members of the group sat in a dark comer talking - about molecular structures or whatever.
And the future? Perhaps more film music, like that for the newly-released Highlander. And maybe fewer promotional videos.
'Some of our videos have tried to capture the live feeling, some have been narrative and some arty - and there's the trap,' says May. 'in the end, you feel you have to make a video with every record you put out, even though you can kill a song by making it too specific. The images people spin in their own minds are often better than anything you could/ put on video.' Perhaps a tour of America? Perhaps in the meantime fans can look forward to an album of music from the summer tour