It’s a beautiful day, the sun is shining and we feel good, touch down in Montreux for Team MPT and it was glorious. The lake, the sky, the mountains and the bubbling calm of the town is, yes...Made in Heaven
It was great to see some familiar and returning faces in and around the town the day before the event, the weather was so glorious it was rather criminal having to pop inside the venue all too often to get the behind the scenes party production underway. The MPT team prepped as much as we could for the next day and took part in some interviews to camera, Rod Nisbet and Felix The Jag turned up, fans were gathering at the waterfront and enjoying the festivities and we completely OD’d on cheese fondue at dinner but were set, Ready Freddie, in fact.
Saturday is always an early start for the team, and a constant blur of checking, ticking off, rearranging, moving things, organising people and balloon blowing, but now in our 4th year we pretty much have this event down and in a perverted way look forward to those unexpected challenges to be thrown in front of us…but this year, nothing! Pre-party activity had already commenced with Greg Brooks and Justin Shirley Smith in the Queen Studio Experience, Greg was overseeing fans trying on Freddie’s jacket from the 1984/85 eras and Justin was entertaining party goers with some new mixes on the Mountain Studios desk. We concluded the run through of the band soundcheck and audiovisuals on time and dressed the room, we were all ready to go!
The doors were flung open at 5pm with the speakers pumping out a collection of rare Queen dance mixes and our guests flocked to secure seats by the front of the stage and to hit the fully stocked tombola table. Maureen and Pete Barclay also continued to do very brisk business outside the main party room with their exclusive, signed and rare Queen related items for sale.
As the guests arrived it was clear that this year’s colour theme worked so well and with the party room mixing deep reds and black decor, the whole feel to the room had a somewhat burlesque vibe to it - I am sure Freddie would have been more than OK with that! Introductions by MPT Leader Claudia Walker and Freddie’s former PA Peter Freestone were made before we enjoyed two exclusive playbacks; firstly, 'Man From Manhattan 2018', the reimagined ‘Big Band’ version of the Eddie Howell cult classic that features both Freddie and Brian, it has been produced by Jiri Sevcik and Mike Moran, all in aid of The MPT. Following that, a video playback of a track called ‘Farrokh’ which was introduced by its creator French comedian Marc Marian who was inspired to write the song in honour of Freddie’s life and allowed us to premiere at the event.
Our exclusive documentary premiere this year was Queen + Bejart: Ballet For Life, a piece that is very much related to this area of Switzerland and the neighbouring town of Lausanne where Maurice Béjart worked with his company. The documentary was introduced by director Simon Lupton and wonderfully received. It included new interviews with Brian and Roger and explores the difficult period where the remaining members of Queen struggled to come to terms with the loss of Freddie and inspired a unique collaboration between Maurice Béjart and Queen. It was a wonderfully received by the crowd and very poignant and just gave everyone an extra nudge to remind them why we were there. What followed was a thoroughly engaging conversation between Simon Lupton, director Lynne Wake and Peter Freestone about the fusion of Queen’s music and ballet, the making of the documentary and Freddie’s love of ballet itself. You see, maybe Sid Vicous was right about bringing ‘Ballet To The Masses’, you get an education as well as a hangover at a Freddie Mercury Birthday Party.
Dinner was then served soundtracked by deep cuts from the Queen catalogue and Freddie solo numbers, the tombola continued to do big business and Greg Brooks was still in demand as fans insisted on trying on Freddie’s jacket more and more.
Our live attraction this year was Bulsara and His Queenies. You must know the story by now? Lead singer Gareth attends Freddie’s 70th party two years ago, wins Karaoke, returns with his band to headline this year's event. Got it? Fairytale stuff, we love a happy ending and did we get it! The band lit up the room with what can only be described as a 'total performance'. They rocked, danced and serenaded us through the entire ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ album, before ripping through an alternative ‘Greatest Hits’ set that completely unified the room. It was an incredible show and so warming to see such a talented set of young musicians shining in Queen’s legacy.
By this time proceedings were a complete joy, Bulsara and His Queenies having just stunned the crowd with their performance, where now employed as the house band and oversaw the Karaoke session, giving a handful of very lucky fans the chance to perform one of Queen’s greatest hits backed by a live band. Our eventual winner showed us just how far people will travel to this party; Rebecca from Australia triumphed with Somebody To Love and she did hit ‘that note’, her ‘prize' was to close the whole evening by singing We Are The Champions with Gareth. Lucky Girl...
As the last lines of Queen’s end of show air waving, sing along classic drew to a close, Claudia returned to the stage to salute the bursting hall, to give thanks and send our wonderful revellers home with huge smiles on their faces. Another triumph, we love partying with you guys.
So, we’ll see you next year then, for what will be our 5th Anniversary of The Official Freddie Mercury Birthday Party…we are already in planning!
More details will be on the way VERY SOON!
We love you to Montreux and back!
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