Queen reign supreme at the Isle of Wight

It was a first for me – and them.  Although Queen had played at a number of one-day festivals, they had never done one of the big extended events, like Glastonbury or the Isle of Wight.  As it happens, neither had I.  I went along with more than a bit of trepidation; would there be mud? Would there be loads of fights? Would my long-suffering husband be able to cope with four days of continuous music, let alone a fourth QAL gig in less than 18 months?

But wait – there was Adam Ant, Status Quo and other help at hand….

BEER_TENT_WORDS

To pass the time until Sunday night, I caught up with a number of other bands, some of whom have been on my bucket list for a while. These were:

  • Status Quo – Thursday night in the Big Top. I’m not sure why they weren’t on the main stage, as the venue was completely overcrowded. They were great fun and I think I knew every song they played
  • The Stereophonics – Friday night, main stage.  These are a band that have seeped into my consciousness over the years, as I didn’t realise how many of their songs I knew. Really good set, despite the rain towards the end of it
  • The Who – Saturday night, main stage. One for the bucket list. Only Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend are left of the original four, but they played their greatest hits and it was fantastic to hear songs like Substitute and My Generation live
  • Twin Atlantic – Sunday afternoon, main stage.  Had never come across these guys but I thought they were pretty OK
  • Mike and the Mechanics – Sunday afternoon, main stage. Another one for the bucket list as I saw Genesis twice years ago, once with Peter Gabriel and once with Phil Collins.  As I’d never heard Land Of Confusion and The Living Years live, this was a real treat. My only complaint was that their set was too short! What an exquisite guitar sound Mike Rutherford makes; it was a joy to listen to him
  • Ocean Colour Scene – Sunday night, main stage. They’re from Birmingham, just like me and again, this was another band whose music has seeped into my brain over the years. Good set and they were well supported by the crowd
mike rutherford

Pic credit: Rolling Stone

And finally, after all that waiting, it was time for the main event.  A black backdrop was taken away to reveal the new, eye-shaped Queen rig and the logo was dropped in front of the stage.

Then it started raining. Oh joy.  All those jokes you hear about the British festival season coinciding with terrible weather? Yep.  The thousands in the audience bravely put on their kagoules and rain ponchos, and got themselves another beer. We’re Brits, don’t forget.

In the last 15 minutes before the start, the excitement in the crowd was palpable.  I got chatting to some of the people around me, most of whom hadn’t seen QAL in the flesh before.  As the introduction to One Vision started, they were jumping and there was an enormous roar as the curtain was whipped away. There was an explosion of red and white – and that sound that can only ever be Queen; towering, brilliant and precise.

They moved quickly into Hammer To Fall and Seven Seas of Rhye, the song which started my love affair with Queen all those years ago.  This was followed by the rapid fire of Stone Cold Crazy (and no, I don’t know how Adam gets the words out).

As ever, this was a beautifully crafted setlist; they always seem to have put their programmes together with the sort of precision that you would expect of a classical recital artist, but this technique works – it means that the audience are engaged throughout and eager for what’s coming next.

The first section was finished off with Another One Bites The Dust and Fat Bottomed Girls, which had the entire audience roaring along with it.  Adam made his exit to change and we were treated to a rocking guitar interlude from Brian. There aren’t that many videos available on YouTube yet, but I’m sure this one from CarlaRose will give you an idea of the fantastic performance quality.

Play The Game has been a new addition to the set for the 2016 dates and it suits Adam brilliantly; you get to hear little touches of his excellent falsetto and it’s such a beautifully crafted song.  From this it was into Killer Queen, which has become a real showpiece. After that, everyone was up and dancing for Don’t Stop Me Now (even my husband!).

As ever, Somebody To Love was stunning – it’s one of those songs that was made for Adam (even though I love the Freddie original, this live version is almost another song these days).  He solidly hits a high F at the end (same note that I’m happy to sing as a mezzo soprano).

There was a well-earned break for Adam after this while Brian encouraged the crowd to sing along with Love Of My Life (admittedly, they didn’t need encouraging and as usual, everyone seemed to know the words).  Roger joined him after this, presenting him with the Red Special and the two of them performed A Kind Of Magic.  Roger still has a pretty reasonable voice considering he’s sung for most of his life and smoked for years.  We also saw the extraordinary sight of the two of them indulging in a bit of “dad dancing”, which was picked up on the big screens. These two guys who have known each other for nearly 50 years have an amazing rapport and I think my heart burst into a million pieces.

After the father and son drum battle, Adam was back on stage for Under Pressure and there was a huge roar from the crowd at the picture of David Bowie on the screen.  Crazy Little Thing Called Love has become a semi-acoustic number for this tour, and it works well, but we were taken swiftly back to full powered Queen with I Want To Break Free, which again had the audience dancing.  Earlier in the day, I’d spotted a number of people in suitable fancy dress for this, including toy vacuum cleaners!  I’m not sure how they managed amongst the enormous crowd though.

IOW drone shot

I Want It All has also become a standard item in QAL sets; it’s loaded with typical Queen bombast, punctuated with smoke guns and massive guitar riffs.  In sharp contrast to this, Who Wants To Live Forever became a moment of comparative stillness, marked out as a tribute to the deaths in Orlando, Florida the previous night.  Always stunning, it seemed to move to a new level here on the Isle of Wight. The lasers seared into the darkening sky and the crowd were rapt.

(Video from GlamBecks becksie1’s YouTube uploads)

Again, that superb setlist planning came into play as Brian’s guitar solo began in that same reflective mood, moving through Last Horizon before it exploded into the very familiar sequences of Brighton Rock.

We were nearly at the end; they’d been on stage for the best part of two hours and into the final sequence of the main set. We rushed through Tie Your Mother Down and into Bohemian Rhapsody, and I swear that every single person in the crowd sang along – even the ones who weren’t regular Queenies.  For music fans though, it’s become a universal anthem over the last 40 years.  If you don’t know it, you’ve obviously lived on another planet since 1976.

Radio Ga Ga has moved into the final slot, with the fans at the barrier getting an opportunity to greet Adam as he jumps down from the main stage.  The lasers showered the night sky again as the audience clapped along.  There was a brief break, then everyone was back on stage for the standard encores of We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions.  The gold confetti exploded everywhere, we heard Brian’s version of God Save The Queen – and then it was over.

adam helen bovill

Pic credit: the extremely talented Helen Bovill!

Two hours of amazing music had sped by; they were as breathtaking as ever and they seem to find ways of improving on every single gig.

I talked in the Barcelona review about Queen producing “total music” and this is just what they do.  No aspect is neglected; everything is picture perfect and planned down to the finest detail – and it shows in the finished product, the performance.

In all of their incarnations, Queen have always strived to be bigger, better than everyone else around.  They were truly head and shoulders above anyone else on the Isle of Wight festival lineup, and I heard “regulars” saying that they were the best they had seen in the 10+ years since the revived festival started in 2002.  The people who were Queen newbies were blown away and I overheard many conversations on the long, long walk back to the car park.

Once again, QAL have conquered and they’ve done it with the music, and the love of the music.  The joy travels all the way from the front row to the people at the back and it’s impossible not to be caught up in it.  The only problem is dealing with the addiction, the desire to experience it all again.

brian and roger helen bovill

Pic credit: Helen Bovill

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Life begins at 40 – A Tribute to Bohemian Rhapsody

First of all, I haven’t forgotten about the rest of the Don’t Stop Them Now tour, or that Adam has been out and about doing solo work, but real life is seriously getting in the way at the moment. I won’t bore you with the details, but I will try to catch up with everything soon, and also hopefully include some material from other contributors who were lucky enough to go to South America.

There has been a very important music anniversary this weekend, as on 31st October 1975 this happened:

(video from Queen Official’s YouTube uploads)

This extraordinary song, which by right shouldn’t have been a single release at all, has managed to be the third best seller ever (behind Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas and the “Diana” version of Candle In The Wind). It’s even been number one twice in an identical version, the only song ever to manage this feat.

How the hell did Bo Rhap happen? Do we have any idea why it’s captured the imagination the way it has for four decades? What makes it unique? And is it really a rhapsody?

Pic credit: Queen Official

Pic credit: Queen Official

There have been masses of column inches written about this song over the last 40 years; there is a very detailed entry about it on Wikipedia and there have been all sorts of analyses done of it, including how it’s put together musically and various theories about what the words mean.  So I’m not going to go over stuff that already exists, but instead give you my take on why I think it’s become an iconic piece of music.

At the time Queen recorded Bo Rhap, they were very much at a crossroads.  Locked in a legal battle about finances, the band had hit records, but were broke – in rock star terms, at least.  They needed something massive, but record company executives were very doubtful about a six-minute song getting the radio play that would make it a hit.

Enter an anarchic DJ called Kenny Everett.

Pic credit: Wikipedia

Pic credit: Wikipedia

Everett had a completely eccentric broadcasting style which gave him considerable notoriety. He pushed the boundaries a little too far for the BBC’s tastes at the time, and got himself sacked from Radio 1 in 1970.  He moved over to Capital Radio and whilst there worked hard to champion the bands that he believed in.  One of them was Queen and he was the first DJ to air Bo Rhap on the radio – in fact, he managed to get it played no less than fourteen times on that first weekend. He utterly believed it was a record that was going to blow everyone away.

(video from QueenMuseum.com’s YouTube uploads)

Once Bo Rhap had made it on to the airwaves, the public imagination was captured and as they say, the rest is history.  It spent an unprecedented nine weeks at number 1 in the UK in 1975-76.  It also spawned what is acknowledged to be the first “real” pop video.  Queen were never keen on Top of The Pops; in any case they were touring at the time the song was number 1 and it would have looked pretty ridiculous to attempt to mime a song of that complexity.

Its second spell at number 1 came after Freddie’s death in 1991 and it became the first song to be number 1 twice in the same version, and also the first song to be number 1 twice at Christmas.  It has won many music industry awards and has also been voted high in many polls of favourite songs and influential songs. In 1992, it featured in the film Wayne’s World and even won an MTV Video Music Award for this appearance.

Pic credit:www.leetergesen.com

Pic credit:www.leetergesen.com

Bo Rhap has also managed to transfer into many different mediums.  It has been covered by artists as diverse as Elaine Paige, Montserrat Caballe and Kanye West (although the less said about that, the better).  It’s been played on fairground organs, by symphony orchestras, in carillons (that is, on bells), and sung by cats, choirs and even the Muppets.  This is a particularly fab version by a girls’ choir – wait and see what they do with the headbanging section!

(video from Katie Lee’s YouTube uploads)

I think that the song’s sheer versatility is the reason why it’s captured the imagination and also why it’s so unique.  I must have heard it thousands of times over the 40 years it’s been around, but it simply reaches the places that so many other songs don’t because of the way it’s been put together.  It’s almost impossible to classify; is it a ballad? Opera? Hard rock? It’s actually all of these things and more.

One of the most striking things about Bo Rhap is that is doesn’t have a chorus; it is composed of a number of very different sections, with very few of the thematic ideas repeated.  Most pop songs are written to a format that is:

Introduction – verse – chorus – verse – chorus – bridge (or middle 8) – chorus – conclusion (musos like to call this a coda)

There are some variants to this, but most of the time there are a number of verses, a chorus and a bridge section.  This form of songwriting isn’t new at all and there are similar “verse and chorus” song structures that go back hundreds of years.

But in the late 60s, prog rock moved away from this style and into structures that were much more associated with classical music.  There were even a number of experiments at putting prog rock and classical music together, such as Deep Purple’s Concerto for Group and Orchestra, which was recorded in 1969. Many other prog rock bands used these experimental styles and some early Queen songs, such as My Fairy King and The March Of The Black Queen were clearly influenced by them.

Pic credit: Lex van Rossen

Pic credit: Lex van Rossen

In addition to the prog rock influences, there is the “opera” factor.  Multi-layered vocals in pop songs had been used before; they were beloved of the Beach Boys and just a few months earlier in May 1975, 10cc released I’m Not In Love which used massed vocal effects.  But as ever, Queen used the “too much is never enough” principle and recorded 180 voices (Freddie, Brian and Roger x 60; John Deacon didn’t sing) to build the central section of the song.  It isn’t just lots of voices; it has hints of Mozart and Verdi and at the time, sounded simply outrageous.

There is a recording of the vocals and guitar solos isolated; this is well worth listening to as you can hear how the vocals have been constructed.  The thing that jumps out at me immediately is how accurate everything is, both from the point of view of timing and also the tuning; these are three guys with untrained voices (except for Roger’s choirboy training) and they are precise as some professional choralists. It’s also very interesting to hear the rasp of the guitar strings in this stripped-down version, as that’s often covered up by the sound engineering processes.

(Video from NetMusic.com Presents: ‘Vocals Only’ Videos YouTube uploads)

And what about the lyrics? There have been pages of discussion about these; are they Freddie working out his issues with relationships, even expressing his homosexuality? The opera section has been taken apart word by word, and although there are many theories, there is no definitive version and Freddie himself wrote it off as “nonsense that rhymed”.  If the band know the real mearning of it, they’re not saying.  From the point of view of someone who has spent the last 30+ years around opera, I think it’s a pretty good pastiche of what you would expect opera to sound like.  Is the “Galileo” reference about Brian’s background in astronomy? Scaramouche is a character in Commedia dell’Arte, which Freddie was fond of, and Figaro definitely appears in a couple of popular operas. Make your own choices on all this…

My view about Bo Rhap is that a piece of music with so many different thematic ideas shouldn’t work; in most hands a composition like this would be disjointed – overloaded even.  But I think it shows the touch of genius that the song moves seamlessly from section to section and from style to style.  Between the four of them, and steered by Freddie’s overview of the song that he had in his head, they managed to stitch this together in just the right way.

And – is it a rhapsody? According to the wonderful Wikipedia, in music a rhapsody is defined as “a one-movement work that is episodic yet integrated, free-flowing in structure, featuring a range of highly contrasted moods, colour and tonality”. So… yes, I reckon it is.  It ticks all of those boxes and bought together rock and opera in a way that nobody else has done before or since.

Many happy returns, Bo Rhap – I tweeted a couple of days ago that people will still be listening to it in 2075.  I doubt I’ll be around then, but if someone could have a seance and let me know, I’d be very grateful.

Pic credit: Queen Official

Pic credit: Queen Official

A Tale Of Two Cities – Rio and Porto Alegre

Continuing on with their rapid fire tour of South America, QAL played at the legendary Rock in Rio festival and then travelled south to Porto Alegre. It must have been an amazing experience for all of them, for different reasons.  For Brian and Roger, it was the return, 30 years after the first festival when together with John and Freddie, they blew the place away.  I’m sure they could never have imagined getting the chance to be there for a second time. For Adam, it was a debut at one of the biggest festivals in the world. No pressure then.

QAL south america

Pic credit: @linyoliveira

After a really solid performance at Sao Paulo, Rio was a considerable step up for everyone.  Not only was there the issue of that enormous crowd, but there were logistical challenges – which I think did have an effect on the overall show.  Of course for Porto Alegre they were back to their usual arrangements.  For this reason, rather than do a straight review, I think I’m going to make a few comparisons between the two gigs as there are some points of interest that I’ve seen talked about on Twitter.

OK, the most obvious difference is that for Rio, QAL were part of a much, much larger show and for Porto Alegre they were the reason for the show itself. But – the buzz on Twitter about Rio was that QAL were one of the most eagerly anticipated and talked about bands.  They have been huge on this continent for decades and the fans have never forgotten.  Of course, that sort of expectation adds its own stress to the situation.

rock in rio

Pic credit: therealrobv (Instagram)

As it was, Rio – although an amazing gig, wasn’t entirely trouble free.  First of all, the band were dealing with a rather different stage space.  This sounds an odd thing, but when you are used to working with a familiar stage set, it can be very off-putting dealing with a strange one.  Your journeys around the stage are different and this can be a vital factor; injuries from falls can be very unpleasant (remember what happened to Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters earlier this year?).  Sight lines to your fellow players are altered, lighting states will vary and some lighting cues may work differently (or not at all). And with Rio being a festival involving many other performers, rehearsal time is limited and detailed run throughs are generally not possible.  Therefore you have to get on stage and get on with it – and hope that you don’t get too distracted.  Even the most seasoned performers can slip up under these conditions.

There were definitely some technical issues; these included mic failures – this was particularly noticeable during Save Me when Adam had to be rescued by some very quick work from Rufus, as you can see in this clip:

(video from MegaEverton81’s YouTube uploads)

There were also a few bits of unfathomable lighting and I noticed one or two tuning problems for Brian – I’m guessing that this was down to the heat and humidity, as guitar strings don’t like being subjected to this sort of thing and I think the onstage temperature would have been in the high 90s, even at midnight. Adam also mixed up one or two vocal lines; a couple of bits of Don’t Stop Me Now were in the wrong order, but this time he absolutely nailed The Show Must Go On, which is one of the songs that he’s slipped up in before now.

(video from Queen + Adam Lambert Live (unofficial)’s YouTube uploads)

So, before I move on to Porto Alegre, this whole thing about performance errors.  It’s caused a few bits of furious debate on social media.  Of course, the Adam haters have picked up on his slips and don’t approve; in fact some of the QAL disapprovers have also hinted that other errors are a sign that the rest of the band ought to give up and draw their pensions. Reasonable criticisms? Not in my universe, I’m afraid, although anyone who disagrees is quite at liberty to create their own parallel universe and live happily in it.

At the other end of the scale, I’ve also noticed a few of Adam’s fans getting very upset at the implication that he could get lyrics wrong. Here’s a thing; if you perform live, things can and will go wrong – and this happens to absolutely everyone. I’ve never met a professional performer in my life who hasn’t made an error at some point. I’ve done some beauties, and I can honestly say that there is nothing compares with the utter terror of forgetting your words. Having your teeth out or doing a bungee jump just doesn’t compare; your brain turns to soup and everyone knows you’ve fucked up. That’s how it feels, but actually what happens is that your professional training takes over and you cover it up.  Most of the time your audience don’t realise a thing.

But – there are people who notice errors; I notice them, but that’s because I spent years at music college learning how to notice them…. and criticise them,,, and obsess about them.  And years later I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of the time, it can spoil your enjoyment of the music.  Errors happen because it’s live and dangerous – and that’s the way Queen have always done it.  They could take the easy way out with tapes and all sorts of other devices to relieve the stress of performance and make everything safer, but that’s not what they want.  They want that risk; they want to dive off Niagara Falls every time they perform and if there are little slips, who cares? Nobody dies and the music is still amazing.

porto alegre

Pic credit: @linyoliveira

Now I’ve had my little rant about that, let’s move on to Porto Alegre. This was different again from Sao Paulo and Rio. and the word on Twitter was that this was easily the best yet. As I have to try and earn a living by working during the day, I couldn’t stay up half of the UK night to watch this one, so had to catch up later with social media and the material on YouTube. it’s been more difficult to find clips with a high sound quality as the TV stream for Rio was excellent and there wasn’t anything comparable to watch.

The standout thing about Porto Alegre was the joy. I think in many ways, Rio was quite a tough gig; it would have been very emotional for all of them, for different reasons and sometimes that can get in the way.  But when you can stand there and perform for the love of it, we all get that love too. Don’t Stop Me Now shows this beautifully, although the sound on this clip is a bit patchy, I’m afraid.

(video from vanglam76’s YouTube uploads)

By all accounts, Porto Alegre sounded incredible. I’m hoping that when some of the other guys I know get back home, I’ll be able to get some reviews from them to post on here. With a bit of luck, more clips will be uploaded on to YouTube to give us a better idea of how good it all sounded. The important thing is that the guys were obviously able to really relax into this performance and it just demonstrated how well they work together.

Today there have been some more encouraging sounds about more QAL in 2016.  When interviewed about his feature-length 3D film project, Dr Brian was also asked about the possibility of more music being on the agenda.  The article from Billboard is here:

http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/rock/6707893/brian-may-diableries-film-queen

And in any case, if they are enjoying themselves so much performing, Don’t Stop Them Now?

QAL – The Return: Sao Paulo

After what has seemed like an unbearable wait, they’re back.  South America is rocking to QAL and they are sounding as good as ever.  Since the last echoes faded away in Sheffield, there have been thousands of fans waiting for this and the anticipation has been almost unbearable for everyone.

The excitement was further built up by Brian tweeting that there would be “at least ONE big surprise”, so there was plenty of speculation as to what this could be.  Ideas ranged from John Deacon returning to play a couple of songs, to a whole host of new songs – including Lucy. There was a further hint from the Queen tour blog that there was some unfamiliar material in the setlist.

The early birds queueing up outside the Ibirapuera Arena in Sao Paulo were able to hear snatches of the sound check and there was a rush of excited tweets yesterday afternoon that Keep Yourself Alive and Great King Rat had been heard – and also Ghost Town. But this didn’t seem to sound anything like the recorded version and a couple of tiny snippets of it posted on YouTube had a distinctly “hard rock” edge to them. Nobody reported hearing Lucy in the sound check, but there were rumours of it being included in the set somewhere.

Over here in the UK, keeping up with concerts in South America requires more than a touch of insomnia and not inconsiderable stamina. Sao Paulo kicked off just after 2.00 a.m.in my part of the world and the strains of One Vision from the audio stream woke me up. I think I must be attuned to those opening chords.

Pic credit: @scubadan21

Pic credit: @scubadan21

We’d already been warned on Twitter that getting reliable audio or video streams out of the arena was going to be difficult as the Wi-Fi signal was poor and even the crew were having to use 3G.  There must have been a lot of crossed fingers worldwide, but I managed to pick up most of last night’s action through a patchy Mixlr stream and some intrepid souls who were trying to broadcast through Periscope.  Great efforts in difficult circumstances guys!

Today (in between feeling like one of the living dead), I’ve managed to catch up on some of the YouTube footage as the sound quality from last night was a bit variable and it was difficult to get an accurate idea of how things really were in the arena.

So, how was it for me?

It completely exceeded expectations. Brian, Roger and Adam had only a few days to rehearse but everything sounded as tight as ever.  Queen have always worked on the premise of trying to get their live performances as perfect as possible; sound, lights, pyrotechnics – it all has to be just right and they have always put a lot of energy into putting on a great show for their audience. “Too much is never enough” applies at all times.

South America have always loved Queen; they were the first major rock band to tour Latin America and they broke attendance records by filling massive arenas. The setlist for Sao Paulo was immense – twenty-eight songs; all the regulars from the UK/Europe tour plus some of the “occasional” numbers such as Days Of Our Lives, Don’t Stop Me Now and The Show Must Go On.  And Ghost Town; the sound check wasn’t just a red herring.

Pic credit: Queen Official

Pic credit: Queen Official

I’m far too sleep-deprived to work my way through the whole set, and in any case there are a number of other tour dates to talk about before the end of September. So, in the order they appeared in the setlist, these are my highlights from Wednesday night:

  • Love Of My Life – Brian’s tribute to Freddie that never fails to bring a tear to the eye. This is one of the songs that the South American audiences really made their own in the 80s and they were in amazingly good voice.  This is so worth a listen:

(video from vanglam76’s YouTube uploads)

  • Somebody To Love – this is always one of my favourites and Adam’s voice was at its bodacious best for all that ornamentation and killer high notes. Freddie’s homage to Aretha Franklin is such a great showpiece for Adam’s voice and the crowd were clearly loving it
  • Ghost Town – this has become something completely different.  While the original is a lonely, dusty place on the edge of Hollywood, populated by tumbleweed and pale spectres, the new QAL version is dark and brooding; Transylvania with Dracula and a demon guitarist.  Transformed into hard rock, I thought this was tremendous and for me, it made complete sense of a song that I’ve struggled with.  It’s also great to see that Brian and Roger’s backing of Adam is so steadfast and including one of his own songs in the set is another demonstration of this

(video from MFranklin1910’s YouTube uploads)

  • Who Wants To Live Forever – this has been a QAL favourite since the iHeart Radio gig and Adam nailed it yet again. His vocals are so impressive on this incredibly difficult song and whenever they perform it, you are aware that an audience of thousands are holding their breath
Adam sao paulo 1

Pic credit: @scubandan21

  • I Want It All – this is another song that is a fantastic blend of voice and guitar. It’s one of Queen’s powerhouse numbers and is a huge crowd pleaser.  As usual, Adam and Brian started it with the “riffing” improvisation that became so popular during the UK and Europe gigs earlier this year. This is one of those spectacular songs that you can listen to again and again
  • We Will Rock You – I’ve picked this out as one of my highlights because I think there had been a conscious decision to give another reminder of Rio 30 years ago.  Adam reappeared bedecked in the Brazilian flag and the crowd went absolutely wild. And this is such a brilliant pic!
Pic credit: I don't know! Photographer please identify yourself...

Pic credit: I don’t know! Photographer please identify yourself…

Those were a selection of the best bits for me, but there were many, many more that I could pick up on; the crowd reaction to Killer Queen, more beautiful singing from the audience during Save Me, Brian’s guitar solo (I haven’t found this on YouTube yet, but look out for it as it’s one of the best I’ve ever heard him do), the roars of approval at Bohemian Rhapsody.  it was all there and it was all good and it was almost as though they had never been apart.

The audience reactions were great; the place sounded as though it was absolutely rocking and I think they would happily have stayed there all night to listen to more.  This was been a triumphant return for Brian and Roger and an amazing introduction to South American for Adam.  They just seem to win wherever they go, and once again it was heartwarming to see the two “originals” from Queen enjoying their music so much. This tour has been called “Dont Stop Them Now” and I feel sure that they are going to want to do more in 2016, particularly as next year sees a number of very significant Queen anniversaries.

I suspect Rio will be even better than this and I’m off to get some sleep in preparation for another very late night tomorrow.

The Show Must Go On – Putting it all Together

In amongst the Ghost Town Twitterstorm, I’ve noticed over the last couple of days that there is still a lot of chat about the QAL tour.  Some people (including me) are missing it terribly and are still talking about just how good this tour was, and how superbly everything was put together.  And of course in the last 24 hours there has been a lot of excitement about more dates in South American and the “Don’t Stop Them Now” tour.

P

Pic credit: stufish.com

One thing that has particularly interested me is the how the show was put together; the setlist itself and how that extraordinary stage set worked.   The setlist is particularly interesting; how the songs linked together and indeed whether the guys were trying to tell us how they felt by their choice of songs.

I think I need to say I am excluding the Q+PR collaboration from this blog entry – not because I think it wasn’t valid, but because the performances they did weren’t “all” Queen – they included Free, Paul Rodgers and later some original music.  This makes it very difficult to compare the shows, so this is about “original Queen” and how they turned their output into the QAL tour of 2014-15.

First of all, we need to go back in time – about 30 years, in fact.  As it was decades since Queen had toured as Queen, there wasn’t an easy existing pattern to fall back on – and there had been another three studio albums produced in the meantime.

Queen knebworth

Pic credit: Blakemore-Noble.net

Queen’s last performance in their original lineup took place in 1986 at the Knebworth festival.  It was the end of the “Magic” tour and none of us who were Queen fans at the time could have imagined that they would never tour again in that format.  This tour was typical Queen – a massive stage rig, complete overload of lighting and pyrotechnics and a mixture of tracks from the new album, old favourites and a few bits of rock ‘n roll here and there.

Assembling an entire show of this size – one that is going around a large part of the world, is a real challenge logistically and artistically.  On the logistics side, there is the set itself; designing it, building it, transporting it and adding the various lights and effects.

Pic credit: rockimitates art

Pic credit: rockimitates art

The set itself was constructed to Roger’s idea of a huge “Q” which would dominate the stage. The metal structure would surround an enormous screen, supplemented by side screens at the front of the auditorium. The floor of the set included a central runway and two side stages accessed with steps.  The Q could be moved and was dropped flat during Seven Seas of Rhye.

(video from Erotic Sludge’s YouTube uploads – includes a rather good Killer Queen!)

The set was embellished with a large amount of gold and there was, of course, the chaise longue; these were both Adam’s contribution to the design.

The effects rig included pyrotechnics, the all-too-familiar “overkill” lighting and a glitter ball over the central runway.

Two complete stage rigs were constructed; a “forward” crew would be setting up one venue whilst the other rig would be in use elsewhere.  This needed detailed planning and a large crew.  The tour lorries became a familiar site at the venues.

Pic credit: @hid3spy

Pic credit: @hid3spy

Putting the music together can be an incredibly complex operation.  There are a number of formats you can use, and this applies to classical music as well as pop and rock.  You can go for a straight chronological progression through the music, or you can group songs together around a theme.  However, you do have to be slightly careful around timings and particularly the change in key from one song to the next.  Have you ever listened to the radio where there is a really uncomfortable segue?  Certain key changes are not enjoyable.

Putting the setlist together from an artistic perspective must have created a whole raft of problems.  There was a need to produce a programme which showed off Queen’s repertoire, showcased the guys as individuals and also was respectful to Freddie (and John) in terms of how they were referred to in the music.

The short tour of 2012 was something of an experiment.  It was more of a “getting to know you” exercise, but by the three London dates QAL were looking like a confident set-up and there was a real rapport there.

(video from ki55andtell’s YouTube uploads)

But if 2012 was the introduction, then the 2014-15 tour was the real deal, and it’s obvious that a huge amount of effort had been put into getting every detail right.  In having a detailed structure, QAL had moved away from being “just” a rock concert, even given that Queen have never done things by halves.  It was obvious to us that they wanted to put on a show like we’d never seen before.

The setlist for both parts of the tour (US/Asia/Australasia and UK/Europe) was structured into cleanly divided sections and there were clear visual clues given by Adam’s costume changes.  (I know the detractors picked on this, but actually guys, you’re going to a show. Ever seen the stuff that Madonna wears onstage?)  The styling was a great trick; through it we saw the various stages of the gig laid out before us.

There were also individual touches added for each concert; Brian had a language crib sheet in non-English speaking nations to enable him to engage with the audience in their own language, even if at a basic level, and this was always appreciated. Extra touches were added in the form of one or two venue-specific songs, such as Plaisir D’amour for Paris and a couple of verses of the Beatles for Liverpool.

I would also imagine that some attention was paid to whose songs were performed, so that there was a good balance.  Freddie and Brian wrote the bulk of Queen’s songs before the decision to credit everything to the group as a whole, but it’s usually easy to identify Freddie’s songs as they covered such a wide range of musical styles.

There was even some thought given to what would be played as background music before the start of the gig. People who were listening closely might have recognised the use of Track 13.  This mysterious instrumental was one of the “hidden” tracks on Made In Heaven and was designed as a tribute to Freddie, with 30 seconds of music for every year of his life.

Pic credit: BrianMay.com

Pic credit: BrianMay.com

Pic credit: BrianMay.com

Pic credit: BrianMay.com

The opening number did change between the two halves of the tour.  The 2014 dates started with Now I’m Here, a song by Brian very closely associated with the US.  It was written when he was recovering from the bout of hepatitis which cut short Queen’s first tour to the States.  For the UK/Europe leg, the opener was One Vision, the song which had opened their very last live appearance at Knebworth.

The “glam rock” section of the show remained settled throughout, other than I Want It All moving later in the show for the UK/Europe leg.

The central section was a mixture of Brian and Roger’s own tributes to Freddie and some solo items.  The tributes were handled with great sensitivity; Brian’s rendition of Love of My Life never failed to bring a tear to someone’s eye

Roger sang Days Of Our Lives; although later Queen songs weren’t attributed to any one person, the main structure of the song was his, and it was accompanied by beautiful video footage of “the old days of Queen”, which also remembered John.

There was also a careful nod made to showcasing the other talent in the band with a most unusual bass solo from Neil Fairclough and the father and son drum battle between Roger and Rufus.  Roger must be incredibly proud that his son is such a capable musician, and it was great to see them performing together.

Adam returned for the next section looking much more sombre, but this is a section of the concert that got tweaked more than most.  For the US, the middle number was Love Kills, but was substituted with Dragon Attack for the last two shows over there.  Brian has spoken about Love Kills having painful associations with Freddie’s illness and death, so although it’s a superb song, I can understand why he maybe didn’t want to bring it into the 2015 concerts.

For the UK and Europe, Save Me was introduced, giving this section a “dark romance” feel to it; the pairing of Save Me and Who Wants To Live Forever was inspired; lost love and doomed love.  These superbly demonstrated Adam’s musical and performance skills and also highlighted the relationship he has built up with Brian.  That combination of voice and guitar with the eerie lighting effects was the high point of the show for many of us.

(video from vanglam76’s YouTube uploads)

The tension in the air was kept up by Brian’s guitar solo, and it was only in the final section that we saw Queen back in rock mode, with Adam in plaid pants, tattoos on display. This last section gave the crowd the opportunity to sing, stamp, clap and even dance.  Bohemian Rhapsody was the perfect ending as it contained a final nod to Freddie in the video footage.

Queen’s traditional encores have been We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions for a long, long time and the QAL versions of these didn’t disappoint. There was another touch of genius in the styling for this; instead of Freddie’s imperial crown and ostentatious robes, Adam appeared as the Crown Prince of Glam Rock in a leopard print suit and glittering coronet.  I feel this was a conscious communication from Brian and Roger to acknowledge that Adam wasn’t an attempt to supplant Freddie, but that he was the person they waited so long to find.

There were also some extra numbers that appeared from time to time; Dragon Attack and The Show Must Go On appeared fairly regularly, along with Don’t Stop Me Now. A “special” item included in South Korea and Japan only, was I Was Born To Love You.  This was originally a solo song by Freddie which had been reworked into a Queen version.  It’s consistently one of peoples’ favourites and I’m sure it would be incredibly popular if it were done in a future tour.

(video from nico glambert’s YouTube uploads)

Of course, the ultimate problem was “too many hits”; Queen have always played a lot of their hit records in the concert tours, rather than doing the traditional rock band thing of featuring most of a new album.  In any case, Queen were never the type of band that churned out albums very quickly; they were very particular about the music they put out and they wanted it to be of the highest quality possible.  There is lots of material on YouTube about the making of various of their songs, and you can see how much detail is put into every one.

But for the QAL tour, it seemed to be a question of what they could realistically leave out.  There is still a lot of fantastic material in the Queen repertoire that they could perform (although I would love to see QAL do some original material as I think they could produce incredible music together).

Of course, the news of the “Don’t Stop Them Now” tour makes me wonder if there will some more amendments made to the setlist.  There are core songs that will always be part of any Queen gig and there will always be the question of what to leave out.  There are some songs that I would love to hear QAL perform, either because they’re just personal favourites of mine, or because I would love to see how they would sound with Adam’s voice. So, the ones I would really love to see on a setlist are:

  • I Was Born To Love You (just because!)
  • Hammer To Fall (for me, one of Brian’s best rock songs)
  • Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy (A Freddie song in the Noel Coward tradition – Adam would do a fantastic performance of it, I’m sure)
  • It’s a Hard Life (another Freddie song; love it hugely and would love to hear Adam belt out that line from Pagliacci at the beginning)
  • Innuendo (because it’s a monumental song in the style of Bo Rhap and I think Adam would do justice to it)
  • Brighton Rock (another one of Brian’s songs – an oldie but a goodie; it would make a fantastic show opener
Pic: stufish.com

Pic: stufish.com

We know that there isn’t going to be any concert activity until September, but there is bound to be more speculation about where else QAL are going to appear in the world.  I think we’re all hoping that they turn up at an arena near us.

QAL Sheffield – Hitting the Pause Button

This piece started life as a fairly short review on the QAL Fans United Facebook group (check them out, they’re great!).  That post has since dropped way too low down the lists to retrieve it, so this is an expanded rewrite of the original.  Hopefully I’ve remembered the best bits of what I wrote before. * * * * * * *

Pic credit: Derbyshire Times

Pic credit: Derbyshire Times

We were into the last two weeks of the tour; the guys seemed to have recovered from the flu that had hit them and were getting better and better. I listened to every live stream that I could, but the gigs flew by like a bobsleigh run through a winter’s night; Herning, Prague, Zurich, Krakow. Then they were back in the UK for the final leg; Wembley, Liverpool and Sheffield.

In the meantime, I’d had a complete stress about my tickets; I was due to move house 10 days before the gig and I had visions of them turning up to an empty house and being lost forever.  I don’t think I’ve ever had nightmares before about a pair of bloody tickets, but I did.  When they were delivered, they went everywhere in my bag with me.

I was looking forward to Sheffield, but at the same time I was dreading it, as this would be the end.  The end of QAL; what a heartbreaking thought.

It wasn’t just me either; the atmosphere on Twitter was full of the same feeling, that this crazy, emotional, tremendous tour was nearly over, and that would be it.  The thought of all of them going their separate ways was physically painful.

It felt like being with your perfect lover, your soulmate, knowing that you would have one last, wonderful night together and then he (or she) would emigrate to the other side of the world and you would never see them again. You’d want that night to start and never end.

I listened to the stream of the Wembley gig – to my ears it sounded incredible, although Brian later posted on his website that he was very emotional and he felt it had affected his playing.  None of us would have known, but I can understand why Wembley had tugged at his heartstrings; it was the scene of Queen’s greatest triumph with Freddie.

Then there was a day’s break before Liverpool, and Adam went off to tread the red carpet at the Brits Awards.  Endearing as ever in his interviews, we all got that tiny piece of news we’d been praying for –  Sheffield wasn’t going to be the end of QAL.  Instead, they were all thinking of it as “hitting the pause button”.  Twitter was instantly alive with rumours – Rock in Rio and Argentina were amongst them and we were all searching for bits of proof that this was actually going to happen.

The live stream of Liverpool flashed by – I could swear that time passed more quickly when you were in the grip of QAL.  Then it was Friday, and Sheffield.

I had a journey north to get there; the motorway traffic was terrible and I could feel myself stressing about getting there late.  It was a blessed relief to squash myself on a very crowded tram to the Motorpoint Arena.  It was packed with fans; most of the ones near to me hadn’t been before, although some of them were going on the strength of that concert on New Year’s Eve.  I found myself holding court, wedged in amongst them, telling them they were in for the experience of a lifetime.  In retrospect, I do hope they agreed with me!

I was supposed to be one of the “streamers” for the concert, much to the husband’s alarm as I think he had visions of me being arrested and dragged away by security.  The soundcheck was done, and I tried to get as far forward as I could, without getting stuck in front of someone a foot taller than me. (In the event, I was far too close to the bass speakers, so despite experimenting with a variety of sound muffling techniques, from stuffing the phone down my t-shirt(!) to the bottom of my handbag, I couldn’t get a balanced sound.)

The entire hall was gripped with an atmosphere I’ve never felt before in any live concert, anywhere, for any type of music – rock, classical; you name it.  The air was crackling with excitement and emotion and my Twitter feed was buzzing, from people in the hall and all over the world.  I knew there were lots of people there who’d been to many QAL gigs, and who’d got to know each other well.  One of the truly amazing things about this tour has been the fellowship that has built up between people who hadn’t met each other until comparatively recently.  This is a brilliant example of how music and social media brings people together – but also how this music has bought people together in a way that I didn’t think was possible.

Pic credit: Alexander Morner

Pic credit: Ritt Sters

Purple light bathed the “Q” logo and the heartstopping introduction to One Vision began.  Those immense guitar chords cut through the air and the crowd were bouncing.  The silhouette of Brian appeared behind the curtains in classical “rock god guitarist” stance, then the lights exploded into red and white and the curtain flew out like a giant parachute.  Brian walked down the runway playing and we were into our incredible journey.

One Vision is a great opening number – it’s the “shock and awe” sound that is perfectly Queen.  This video from kinkykiedis captures the atmosphere perfectly.

The setlist for Sheffield was almost the same as for Birmingham, but with the addition of Don’t Stop Me Now in the “glam rock” section with Killer Queen and Somebody To Love. I think this part was about as good as I’d heard it on the audio streams I’d listened to since the end of January.  It was completely over the top, both in terms of what the guys were doing musically and the performance elements.  STL was stunning – the rework they have done of this song is now the version of it that I hear in my head when I think of.

Pic credit: @IamjustMissy

Pic credit: @IamjustMissy

STL was said to be Freddie’s favourite song, and the original was a masterpiece; complex, “white gospel”, but the new QAL version was the original overlaid with rock. I’m sure Adam was channelling Aretha Franklin in Sheffield; his final cadenza reached notes that a lot of sopranos would be proud of.

(video from kinkykiedis’ YouTube uploads)

We were all swept along from one mood to another; where Adam flirted with just about everyone, including Brian.

Then there was the abrupt change into Brian’s section.  He walked down the runway alone, the light catching on his silver hair and began by telling us that it was the happiest, most enjoyable tour he’d ever done in his life.  As he wiped away a tear, I think half the hall wiped one away too. Love of My Life was unbearably poignant; it felt as though we were carrying Brian through the song.  There were more tears at the end – his and ours.

Pic credit: My Asberg

Pic credit: My Asberg

We’d barely recovered from this before Days of Our Lives.  Roger sang it beautifully; there was no trace of the croakiness that he’d had at Wembley.  Because of the already heightened feelings from everyone, I think this was a real tearjerker for a lot of us.  Again, the song transmitted that collective feeling of the decades we’ve followed Queen, so it was the days of our lives we were watching as well as theirs. That sort of connection is so very powerful when thousands of people “get it” at the same time.

After Neil’s beautiful bass solo and the drum battle, the full band were back together for Under Pressure, sung magnificently by Adam and Roger. Then it was time for the emotional climax of the gig with Save Me and Who Wants To Live Forever. There was a very rare tuning error from Adam at the start of Save Me – listening back to the video, one interval in the starting phrase was not quite accurate, but he adjusted himself back in very quickly with his good musicianship.  I suspect a lot of the audience wouldn’t have noticed, but my singer’s ears spot that sort of thing.

WWTLF was stunning though; as in Birmingham, it felt as though everyone was holding their breath.  It was one of those moments that are frozen in time; bathed in the white light and the stars from the glitter ball, Adam and Brian became two ghosts making unworldly music.

Pic credit: Carole Humphreys

Pic credit: Carole Humphreys

Brian’s guitar solo was as beautiful as ever and got a fantastic ovation, but we were into the final section; time was running away with us. One of the high spots was the riffing leading into IWIA; the sound engineers had added plenty of reverberation, but it was amazing to hear how closely Adam and Brian could match the sounds of voice and guitar.

Before Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Brian did his by now customary acknowledgement of Adam, except this time he was no longer referred to as the “new guy” – instead we were all asked if he was a keeper. The response was tumultuous.

(video from kinkykiedis’ YouTube uploads)

Incidentally, if you want to hear some beautiful audience singing, watch the videos of Bo Rhap from Sheffield; everyone was in wonderful voice. Then it was the encores and we just about sang ourselves hoarse, and swayed in unison to We Are The Champions.

(video from erotic sludge’s YouTube uploads)

There was a really touching exchange at around 3’10” where Adam kneels at Brian’s feet, with his reaction being “please, you don’t have to do that”; another example of the wonderful bond that has grown between these guys. The golden confetti rained down from the ceiling and they took their bows to God Save the Queen while we in the hall cheered, stamped and screamed.

Pic credit: Alexander Morner

Pic credit: Alexander Morner

What a tour it has been; for me as a long-time Queenie I have had the incredible of seeing Brian and Roger play with unbridled joy; Brian has skipped about the stage like a man 20 years younger.  To me, it feels as though they have found themselves again through Adam. And in the meantime Adam has grown into an utterly confident rock superstar.  Using his own words, he has “crawled into” the music and not only made it his own, but he has excelled in this and won over many people (like me), who had either never heard of him, or had doubts whether he could step out of Freddie’ very forbidding shadow.  He has more than passed the test; he has become the Crown Prince of Queen and absolutely won the right to wear that glittering crown.

And the best thing of all is that it’s not the end.  It’s the pause button.

Pic credit: Georg Mackowiak

Pic credit: Georg Mackowiak

Brian, Roger and the QAL Bromance

A quick note to the Adam fans that are new(er) to Queen, I can thoroughly recommend the BBC documentary “Days of Our Lives” which was made in 2011 to celebrate Queen’s 40th anniversary (available in full on YouTube).  I only saw this comparatively recently as I was in a life without music (long story) when it was originally released, but it’s well worth watching.  I recommend tissues as at times you see Brian and Roger at their most vulnerable.

*****

It’s an incredible thought that Brian May and Roger Taylor were making music before men walked on the Moon; they have been together for the best part of fifty years, longer than any of their marriages.

Pic credit: The Guardian

Pic credit: The Guardian

Before they were Queen, they were Smile, a short-lived late-60s rock band.  Freddie Mercury crossed the divide from being a fan to being part of the band, and by 1971 they were in the format we would recognise as Queen, with John Deacon.

During the twenty years from 1971—1991, they went through a tempestuous existence.  They didn’t really hit the public eye until the release of their third album, then got entrenched in what’s tactfully described as “management issues” which culminated in an acrimonious split with Norman Sheffield and the birth of the song Death on Two Legs, proof positive that it was never a good idea to piss off Freddie Mercury.

(video from arcadata’s YouTube uploads)

It’s worth noting that this 1977 concert was during Freddie’s “leotard” period; his reaction to the birth of punk rock was to announce that he wanted to bring ballet to the masses!

For Queen, the course of true creativity never ran smooth either; all four of them frequently engaged in tremendous arguments over songwriting and the path of the band.  Roger’s retrospective view of the arguments was that they “started off about the music and then got personal”.  At times they nearly tore each other apart; John Deacon famously disappeared to Bali after one particularly bad session.

In the 80s the band did nearly fold; Freddie had personal problems which are now well-documented and they fought over their musical direction for some time, with a few rocky years before and after the production of The Works album.  Live Aid was the thing that convinced them to carry on and their appearance at Wembley Stadium is still feted as the greatest rock performance ever.

Pic credit: liveaid.free.fr

Pic credit: liveaid.free.fr

But that was the whole thing about Queen; they didn’t do anything by halves; they did what other bands did, but then did more; every single aspect of them seemed larger than life.

The music was extraordinary; complex, multi-faceted, with ever-changing styles.  They covered everything from prog rock, white gospel, jazz, funk and even the occasional foray into dance music with Hot Space, a rather left-field album for them. All four of them were incredibly capable songwriters and it was probably a mark of respect to Freddie’s final illness that later songwriting credits were to “Queen” rather than individuals.  They also put massive effort into getting every song right; vocals and instruments were multi-layered in the days before computer technology took the hard graft out of it.  They would spend days in the studio, often using several studios at the same time to create that sound.

The concerts were massive; Queen is a whole-body experience and always has been – that towering sound coupled with the lighting and pyrotechnics.  Brian May remarked in a recent interview that the band’s view on live performance was “blind ‘em, deafen ‘em and leave them gagging for more”.

Pic credit: queenonline.com

Pic credit: queenonline.com

Offstage life was similar; legendary parties, marriages, partnerships, break-ups, affairs.  They have never been afraid of using their own experiences to inspire their songs; WWTLF, Scandal and Days of Our Lives are just three.

Of course, to make something so colossal as Queen required massive personalities and this was probably the reason for the frequent in-fighting. This sometimes surfaced as inward jealousy when individuals from the band went off to do solo projects, but somehow there was a strong glue that ultimately bound them all together, and I think this was never stronger when they discovered that Freddie was terminally ill, actively helping to put the tabloid press off the trail of the story.

Freddie’s death was a devastating blow to all three of the remaining band members. John Deacon retired in 1997 and has subsequently been described by Brian as “fragile”.  Brian and Roger chose to fight their demons creatively and after the completion of Made in Heaven, went off into solo enterprises.

A chance meeting with Paul Rodgers led to the Q+PR collaboration that lasted five years before splitting in 2009.  By the time the Days of Our Lives documentary was filmed (probably late 2010/early 2011) they were asked if there was anything else left for Queen.  Brian’s reply was very clear:

“For Roger and I there is always that… searching”.

They clearly weren’t content to walk away from Queen; they acknowledge that whatever else they have done as musicians, there was a unique synchronicity to Queen that made great music happen; Brian described it as the “perfect creative hothouse”, somehow proving the theory that brilliance can come out of turmoil and chaos.

The insights into Brian from that documentary are fascinating; those of you I talk to online will know that he’s one of my long-time heroes for many reasons.  While Freddie was the genius frontman, Brian’s guitar helped forge that massive sound; he could also craft exquisite songs and he has no mean voice in his own right.

Pic credit: queenonline.com

Pic credit: queenonline.com

He’s also a highly complex man, a true polymath; he’s artist and scientist at the same time, with compassion and a huge social conscience.  And he loves. There is something great about people who are unafraid to love, even if sometimes it gets them into hot water.  Because of his life as a rock star, Brian’s loves – for things and people – have often been very public.  Music is clearly one of those loves and when he was asked about his attitude to music, he stated:

“Once you’ve had your initiation into being a rock star, it never leaves you… You cannot really stop having that feeling inside you that makes you want to play”.

It’s also obvious that there is a unique bond between Brian and Roger; they’ve spent most of their lives together and have fought like tigers but have supported each other through thick and thin, and they clearly are very alike in what makes them tick musically.

And ultimately, neither of them could abandon Queen and what it meant to them.

Then they discovered Adam and QAL came into being, and we as fans have witnessed the growth of an incredible bromance between the three of them, stretching all the way back to the American Idol final.

Because Roger is often behind the drums, this is more noticeable between Brian and Adam, and has been summed up in this beautiful video montage created by blindrabbitpress.  You may need tissues for this, particularly if you’ve never seen the end of the Chicago concert.

During the course of their relationship as QAL, the guys have hugged, grinned, giggled and fanboyed at each other.  There are reams could be written about the QAL bromance covering every aspect of the work they’ve done together and I’ve already made lots of references to it; in short, they just adore each other.

I’ve watched Brian and Roger marvel at Adam’s vocal prowess, such as in this clip from the end of STL:

(Video from nightwingtt’s YouTube uploads)

The closeness between them is such a lovely thing and it demonstrates that they are all wonderful, caring guys with a lot of love in their hearts.  Throughout the 2014/15 tour, Brian took time out at every single concert to introduce Adam as the “new man”, to a huge reception.  He’s made it clear he wants the world to share in his own joy at Adam’s talent.  Roger has also showed that he is in no way immune to Adam’s charms either.

Pic credit: Mark McGough

Pic credit: Mark McGough

There have also been some very funny moments, such as when the audience (and Brian) wanted all of Adam’s love!

(Video from sanja melbert’s YouTube uploads)

And Brian?  I really think he has fallen in love with Adam’s voice (and I think Adam reciprocates with his love of Brian’s talent).  As a musician, you can feel the most intense love for someone’s artistry, and it goes beyond gender, sexuality or age gaps.  You just love that voice, or that violin sound, or that guitar – and you therefore love the person as well.  It defies explanation unless you’ve felt it yourself.

Adam and Brian have incredible musical feeling and affinity for each other, as we saw in their almost (I hesitate to use the word, but…) sexual riffing in the QAL gigs.  They absolutely must create some original music together to commemorate it.