11th August 2023

Queen The Greatest Live : An Unforgettable Moment (Episode 29)

“Queen The Greatest Live” The Greatest series returns with a year-long celebration of Queen Live.

A 50-week YouTube series going behind the scenes to reveal what goes into creating a Queen show, featuring moments from iconic performances and demonstrating why the band is regarded as the ultimate live act.

Queen The Greatest Live: An Unforgettable Moment (Episode 29)

With twists, turns and unexpected pleasures, the Queen live experience has long been built on surprising the audience. And there can be no better example of that than this unifying moment in Hungary 1986, when the band strayed from their own catalogue to perform a traditional folk song to create a historic and truly unforgettable moment.

As one of rock’s first truly international bands, Queen have never let the language barrier stand in their way. Having already blazed a trail to South America at the dawn of the ’80s, the lineup broke new ground again on that decade’s Magic Tour, journeying to Hungary for a sell-out show at Budapest’s Népstadion.
Before a note was even played, the show on July 27th, 1986 was loaded with significance, representing the first concert performed by a stadium-league Western European rock band behind the Iron Curtain. “We like going places where it’s a challenge,” noted Brian May – and that certainly applied to a country where Communist strongman György Lázár still held sway.

As seen in the following year’s film release, Queen: Live In Budapest (later repackaged as Hungarian Rhapsody), the Népstadion crowd were word-perfect as the band rolled out the hits (the government’s “lenient restriction on audience behaviour” allowed singing and clapping, if not smoking and drinking).
This week’s episode of Queen The Greatest Live captures the electrifying moment when Freddie Mercury and Brian May paused their customary acoustic mini-set for a surprise rendition of the traditional Hungarian folk song, ‘Tavaszi Szél Vizet Áraszt’ (its title roughly translating as Spring Wind Floods Water).

Watch closely and you can see Freddie discreetly fan his fingers in order to read the lyrics written phonetically on the palm of his hand. He coped admirably, and the pair’s heartfelt performance – watched by 80,000 fans and heard by a further 45,000 outside the Népstadion – proved a great unifying moment between East and West. “The reaction at that point,” recalled Brian, “was f**king deafening.” He continued: “That night was amazing, with the Hungarian folk song and the whole atmosphere. It may sound like an exaggeration, but it was like we took a step into infinity that night.”

Next week: Queen The Greatest Live – The Fans

Photo © Queen Productions