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Chris High reviews Paul Rodgers and Queen at the M.E.N Arena 2005

QUEEN + PAUL RODGERS
Hyde Park
Friday 15th July 2005

 
Queen + Paul Rodgers live on stage in 2005

Queen + Paul Rodgers
live in concert 2005

This very special concert was postponed from the previous week due to the carnage of four terrorist bombs in London just the day before the gig was due to be held. It was a stark reminder of those events as we travelled to Marble Arch on a very crowded Tube train. Security in the capital was strict and in Hyde Park great care was being taken too. All bags were searched and forbidden items were confiscated.

The start of the Show was advertised for 17.30 with some guest appearances but by the time we arrived at around 19.15 there was just very loud background music being played. We chose our spot with a good view of one of the two screens towards the back and sat down for our picnic. Soon after people were invited to send text messages for a chance to win two places in the golden circle and some of them were displayed on the screens. The weather was just perfect for this gig - after a very hot day the evening was very warm with just a slight breeze. The moon was rising and the sunset half way through the gig was glorious with the most beautiful colours to be seen across the sky.

 

Around 19.40 an announcement was made that a special person was coming on stage! No one seemed to recognise his name and suddenly a man in a wheelchair appeared. He couldn't sing and just messed about, getting some stagehands to carry him in his chair onto the walkway into the golden circle! It worked well - it put everyone in a very good humour as the start of the show grew close. Queen was announced but a couple of tracks of music were heard first before they exploded into sight and sound at about 20.00. They went straight into "Tie Your Mother Down" which set the mood for a very lively night ahead.

Paul Rodgers was excellent as lead vocalist but after the initial fast rock numbers Roger Taylor and Brian May did some quieter solo vocals which included tributes to Freddie. The first song that Roger sang was "Say It's Not True" which was to remember people affected by HIV and AIDS. Brian did "Love Of My Life" dedicated to Freddie which was very emotional. In the aftermath of the bombs Brian thanked everyone for coming to London to see them and a little later announced that rather than words they'd chosen a special song for this occasion . He said it was by the greatest rock star after Freddie. "Imagine" by John Lennon truly was the perfect number.

Paul, Brian and sometimes Roger quite often walked down the steps from the main stage and along the walkway into the audience in the golden circle. They changed outfits during the show. Most noticeable were Paul's various different coloured vests and trousers and Brian's changes of shirt. The backing members of the Band were introduced by Brian quite early on in the show.

Roger did two fabulous drum solos. It was totally amazing to watch on the screen as the cameras zoomed in on him. Then Brian let rip on the guitar for a couple of numbers - what a treat that was! He's such a master of his craft and it was a lovely touch as background footage was up on the screen so that at one point it looked like he was up on the roof of Buckingham Palace again!

 

A lot of the material played throughout the Concert was very well know Queen numbers. The last song before the group went off stage was 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and the audience went wild! This was fabulous as Freddie's vocals could not be mistaken and wonderful snippets of footage of the flamboyant star were shown on the screen. How we all still love the memory and are still moved by Freddie! Towards the end of the song Paul took up the vocals and then a very poignant black and white clip of Freddie smiling was slotted in just as the music ended. It was a very powerful image, a very special moment indeed. After great applause the boys lined up, bowed and left the stage.

Of course we knew that they must come back for an encore! The crowd yelled and slow hand clapped and before too long the Band returned and did four more numbers. After "The Show Must Go On" Paul asked, "Do you feel alright?" Of course we most certainly did and it was then a great surprise and joy to hear the old number "Alright Now" by Free next!

"We Will Rock You" was superb with almost everyone in the audience joining in the clapping bits. Huge fun! It looked really weird as the sound did not synchronise with what was up on the screens so we saw the audience on screen clapping at a different time! The final song "We Are the Champions" was dedicated to people from the emergency services (some of them present) who had dealt with the aftermath of the bombs. Photos of some of the police, ambulance crews and medical teams were shown on the screens. As is traditional the National Anthem 'Queen' style marked the end of the Show. The boys actually looked quite reluctant to leave the stage though, of course, having played for 2 hours 20 minutes they did finally go and it really was all over!

People never cease to surprise or amaze - the whole show ended at 22.20 which is not late and yet some of the audience had already started to leave before the encore! It also seemed crazy that loads of people stood and chatted together through most of the Concert or wandered backwards and forwards to get food and drink. What a waste of a £45 ticket!

Getting back to the Underground was not too difficult. The security people and police had loudhailers so that as we left we were given very explicit information. Crossing over Park Lane we were instructed to head for Bond Street Station. By the time we'd walked there the crowds had already started to disperse so it wasn't too much of a crush getting on the Tube train.

We wouldn't have missed this event - it was a very energetic show with some amazing music. It really rocked! What stood out most was the subtle ways in which Freddie's place was in no way stolen - in fact it almost felt like the whole gig was a big tribute to his memory.

© C Raymond


Queen & Paul Rogers 2005
Playlist

Tie Your Mother Down
I Want to Break Free
Fat Bottomed Girls
Wishing Well
Another One Bites The Dust
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Say It's Not True

Brian solos for Freddie
including
Love of My Life

Imagine
Hammer To Fall

Roger on drums !

Brian on guitar !

Those Were The Days Of Our Lives
(Roger)

Radio Ga-Ga
Can't Get Enough Of Your Love
It's A Kind Of Magic
I Want It All and I Want It Now
Bohemian Rhapsody
(Freddie vocals and footage)

------

Encore

The Show Must Go On
All Right Now
We will Rock You
We Are The Champions

National Anthem!

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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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