When the song Killer Queen came out in 1974, I distinctly remember rushing out to buy the album it was on and playing the song over and over until I had it completely memorized.
Ever since that night, Queen has been one of my favorite groups.
However, somehow I missed their performance at Live Aid in 1985, and only recently found out about it as a result of the hit movie about Queen and its lead singer Freddie Mercury, Bohemian Rhapsody.
I have yet to see the movie, but it was while reading reviews of it that I discovered the band’s legendary performance at Wembley Stadium at Live Aid in 1985.
Apparently, it was not only one of Queen’s best live performances, it is considered by many to be one of the best rock and roll performance of all time, by any band. And it was all done before an estimated 1.5 billion viewers who were tuned in to Live Aid.
Here’s a description of the show from the website Ultimate Classic Rock:
Queen’s performance was wedged between performances by bigger and more contemporary artists. U2 had just delivered a two-song clinic on how to command a crowd, capped by a majestic 12-minute version of “Bad,” and after Queen, David Bowie, the Who (in their first performance in three years) and Elton John were scheduled.
The fast-moving afternoon performance covered the breadth of the band’s catalog, cramming a whole concert’s worth of highlights, old and new, into an abbreviated set that included “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Radio Ga Ga,” “Hammer to Fall” (Queen’s newest single), “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and the finale of “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions.” “It was,” May added, “the greatest day of our lives.”
Mercury was everywhere: at the piano for the beginning of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” marching around with his sawed-off mic stand during “Radio Ga Ga” as the Wembley crowd clapped in unison, singing with a reserve of emotion, owning the fans and the moment. It was a turn as virtuosic as it was surprising. Where others might have shied away or even made smaller by the moment, Queen rose to the occasion.
After reading such a description, I had to see if there was a video of it online, and as you might imagine, there was.
So thanks to Youtube, here it is, perhaps the greatest live performance of all time. My only disappointment was that Killer Queen was not part of the lineup.
*image from CNN