Our best year ever?
It does not really matter, to be honest, but three years in and The Freddie Mercury Birthday Party once again proved that Queen really does have the most committed and generous fans. It was a fabulous night and I am sure Freddie would have been proud of each and every one of you. We were.
We have met some quite remarkable people at these events since 2015 and boy did that continue this year! It was great to see so many returning partiers and really special to be told by others that it was their first time and how much fun they were having. It makes it all worth it, and I have to relay this conversation I had with one fan on the day of the party in the Queen Studio Experience.
Team MPT: "Silly question maybe, so why did you come to Montreux this year?"
Fan: "How would you feel if you had one of your favourite things taken away from you?"
Team MPT: "Try and make sure it didn't happen again?"
Fan: "Exactly, that is why I am here. Freddie means so much to me, I want to help out...and have a few beers, I am sure he would approve!"
And in that short and simple conversation, not only was the event summed up, but what we do WITH you guys throughout the year. Fundraise and have fun.
The pre-party afternoon entertainment once again included Greg Brooks answering questions in the Queen Studio Experience and showing off a new News Of The World display that included previously unseen items from Brian May's archive and posters that will be included in the 40th Anniversary Box Set. If you made your way just inside the Mountain Studios room you could find Queen's Senior Studio Engineer Justin Shirley-Smith overseeing fans mixing new tracks on the desk, including ’It's Late' and part of Queen’s Live Aid set. New for this year was Pete Malandrone, keeper and guardian of Brian’s guitar; he was set up in the exhibit, taking donations for the MPT in exchange for allowing fans to hold and pose with the original Red Special...and he raised over €1700 in just a few hours! Not a bad way to start the event at all!
At 5.30pm, with Queen and Freddie's funkier tracks pumping through the PA, we bust open the doors to a sea of red and yellow and smiling faces. The effort some of you go to in making your costumes is so impressive, and it was really encouraging to see so many of you in our 'Magic Era' Freddie T-shirt that was produced just for this year’s event. The ever-popular Tombola table was heaving straight away and was cleared very early in the evening! A reported 6000 tickets sold!
Before long Peter Freestone and our MPT leader Claudia Walker were on stage relaying how the evening was going to unfold and thanking our sponsors. Claudia loves this event and enjoys mingling with the fans and she proved to be a real hit whenever she was on stage, geeing up the crowd at every turn.
This year's exclusive screening was 'The American Dream', the documentary that will be released as part of the News Of The World 40th Anniversary box set. To keep things fresh we invited Simon Lupton, the film’s producer, to introduce the feature and to take part in a Q&A with the audience which proved very popular; we had some super questions and Simon gave great insight in how he put the documentary together.
"I’ve never met an audience that dedicated" Johan Boding (Night Of Queen)
Our live entertainment, Night Of Queen, had been recommended to us a few times over the years and when given the stamp of approval by one of our own team, we had to check them out - and are we so glad we did. Lead by vocalist Johan Boding, this incredibly tight band, and 7-piece choir produced a quite staggering show, and it was a show, not a gig. Lights, visuals, costumes and crowd interaction were all part of this dazzling performance, and it wasn't just the regular hits, we got ‘Innuendo', 'Too Much Love Will Kill You', 'The Prophets Song', ‘Barcelona’ even got an airing and there was a quite jaw dropping version of 'You Take My Breath Away' - they didn't even end with 'We Will Rock You' and 'We Are The Champions'(!), that honour went to 'I Want It All'. The show was streamed live too and by the looks of the statistics proved VERY popular! Yep, we’ll have those guys back, no doubt - and such lovely people.
"Oh My God, oh my goodness, oh, oh, oh.Oh My God!”
One of the biggest thrills for us was announcing the winners of the Brian May and Roger Taylor 'Meet and Greet' draw. If you were there, you will know who Deborah Buffinton is! Funny, frantic and emotional, all wrapped up into a wonderful ball of Australian energy.
Next up was the now traditional 'Queen X-Factor Karaoke and it gave a handful of plucky party goers a chance to hit the stage and brave the Queen Team Panel. They had to be particularly thick skinned this year to deal with Pete Malandrone’s cutting remarks! “An accountant huh? Stick to that."
The night came to a close to the strains of 'My Melancholy Blues' floating from the speakers in the main room and our beaming revellers reluctantly spilling out of the Casino. Claudia had previously asked the question from the stage "So, do you want to do this again next year, you beautiful people?!“ The roar was deafening. Looks like that is settled then.
If you have any photos from the night, your travels to Montreux, even the morning after, please do send them via either Dropbox or WeTransfer into us at [email protected] - we would just love to see them, they will go a long way in continuing to show how much fun we have fundraising in the name Freddie and give us inspiration for next year. (Please do not attach photos to your email as they will be too large and may not make it through the security gateway ;)
It really is easy to just type Thank You here on a keyboard as part of this write-up, but we, The MPT Team, really do mean it. Thank you to all who came to Montreux, thanks to all who watched the live stream and thanks to all who donated on the night. When you guys had all left the building and we were packing up in the small hours, we were all still buzzing with how the event had gone, an event that is made for you and by you, the fans.
So, once more, for the record. THANK YOU.