Queen began their European tour yesterday in Lisbon, and I was one of the very fortunate people who were at Altice Arena – Lisbon’s largest concert hall where the Eurovision song contest final was held this year – for their show.
It all began when my friend Gabi, always attentive to musical happenings, called and asked me if I wanted to come to the concert. I immediately said yes, Queen being my favourite band ever together with Supertramp. In my youth I danced, and lived and loved to the sound of their songs, that have accompanied me ever since. I was shocked when Freddie Mercury passed away and, like so many others, I thought then that the band’s days were over, deeply regretting the fact that I would never see them live in concert.
I was wrong.
It was a rainy, dreary day, looking more like April than June. Not cold but very wet. Gabi and I agreed we should go early to park the car near the concert hall, and that we did. We still had time for a drink at Lisbon Casino and had a nice dinner catching up on our respective news. It was raining as we entered Altice Arena; it was already filled with people of all ages – definitely not the classic “oldies” audience – and soon the show began.
And then – what can I tell you about the concert, the music, the images, the colours, the lights, and the emotion? The show began with a familiar image: that of the robot on the cover of the album “News of the World”, that includes huge hits like “We are the champions”. When they began playing I recognised Brian May and his same long curly hair, only gray now; Roger Taylor on the drums looked quite different but when you got a better look at his face there he was – always the handsomest of the four, as Freddie was unique, indescribable…and then, Adam Lambert, a good surprise – as he told us, he was not there to imitate Freddie Mercury; and he didn’t, and besides such a thing would have been impossible as there is no imitating Freddie, ever. Even if exotic and sometimes peculiar –as Freddie was – Adam was very much himself, he has his own voice and his own style, and it fitted perfectly with the songs and we all loved him!
It was amazing as, from beginning to end, we all sang every song’s lyrics by heart; as soon as a song began thousands of voices were raised and kept pace with the singer…among many emotional moments I would maybe choose one as the most special. Brian May was singing the beautiful “Love of my life” while sitting down and playing his guitar when suddenly he looked to his side and Freddie’s image appeared on the screen, singing that part of the song. Brian May was in silence, simply looking at his friend and for a magical moment it was as if Freddie were there, singing for us…which in fact he was, and we all broke into a huge cheer and we all sang along with him. In the end Brian May held out his hand and Freddie was doing the same towards him, and it seemed the two friends were going to touch. And then Freddie’s image walked away, and Brian could not hide his emotion and wiped a tear for his long lost friend and companion. I was moved, we were all moved, and I’m certain many eyes were also filled with tears. It was a beautiful, unique, special moment for all of us there.
Queen have so many incredible, much loved songs in their repertoire and they sung many of them yesterday, from “Somebody to love” to “Under pressure” (originally sung with David Bowie); from “I’m in love with my car” to “Radio Gaga”, passing images of the 1984 version of the movie “Metropolis” (the song being part of its soundtrack); from “Crazy little thing called love” to “The show must go on” and “Who wants to live forever”, and so on and so on…of course I knew their most brilliant song would be performed at the end of the concert and I wasn’t wrong. At the first sound of “Bohemian Rhapsody” the crowd went mad (myself included) and we sang it with all our hearts, almost shouting. I wished time would stand still, as music and lights were synchronized to create a perfect moment. But it ended, like all other perfect moments in life. The band went away but we shouted madly for them to come back, and I knew they would do an encore, for they had not played “We are the champions” yet. I was right; they came back for “We will rock you” and then finally for “We are the champions” that we sang with all our hearts.
It was a brilliant concert, no doubt the best I have ever been to. Queen are back. Not that they have ever really left our lives, but now they are back on the road, with Adam Lambert as a singer. Of course he will never replace Freddie Mercury – he’s irreplaceable – but then there is no need, as Freddie was always there. Not only on two other occasions when his image appeared again, but in every song he has written or sung and every note his friends played as well. Wherever he is, whatever dimension he has been in during all these years, he was there with us that night, for as we sang his songs he was inside our hearts. No need to worry, Freddie, about the show going on – it IS going on. And we’ll always find you in your music, your lyrics, your songs – you will never die.
Oh yes, Queen are definitely back, with their great songs and magnificent concerts, to enchant older and new generations. Long live the Queen!