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Music DVD Review: Queen + Paul Rodgers – Live In Ukraine

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When surviving Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor (John Deacon hung up his bass guitar for good in 1998) got together with legendary rock frontman Paul Rodgers for a one-off tour and companion live CD/DVD in 2005, the results were better than expected considering how diametrically opposed Rodgers' voice and style is from that of original Queen frontman, Freddy Mercury. Still, this awkward marriage had a very temporary feel to it.

Return Of The Champions was the first product of this collaboration and it exceeded all expectations. Not only did you get an incredible run through of Queen's greatest hits but you were also treated to some killer performances of a few classic Rodger's tunes from his Free and Bad Company days. Well, it turned out that this odd partnership would not be so "one-off" after all, as Queen + Paul Rodgers, as they called themselves, decided to give it another go in 2008 with not only a new world tour, but an album of new material to boot.

The Cosmos Rocks was released in September of 2008 and a world tour was set to follow that same month. Just weeks before the start of their Rock The Cosmos world tour, the band was approached by the Ukraine's Elena Franchuck ANTIAIDS Foundation to help promote AIDS awareness to the youth of that country. Although Queen was already scheduled to kick off their tour with a couple of shows at Moscow's SCO arena, they agreed to play a free concert at Kharkov, Ukraine's Freedom Square on September 12, 2008, which was attended by some 350,000 Ukrainians, and watched live on TV by over 10 million homes.

Live In Ukraine is the 2009 concert DVD that captured this momentous event and with it Queen + Paul Rodgers have scored another hit. The show gets off to an electrifying start via two of the band's heaviest tracks, "One Vision," and "Tie Your Mother Down," before settling into a hit laden set that was all too similar to the previous DVD. Seventeen of the 26 songs performed also appeared on Return Of The Champions.

Surprisingly the boys only played three songs, "Say It's Not True," "C-Lebrity," and "Cosmos Rockin'," from their new The Cosmos Rocks album, and that was probably not a bad idea. Although I always appreciate hearing fresh material on a new tour, this stuff was not quite up to par with the rest of the set. The ballad "Say It's Not True," sung by both Taylor and Rodgers, is pretty enough, and all, but it brings the show to a screeching halt midway through the set, and "C-Lebrity" is just a straightforward blues-rocker that sounded more like a lost Paul Rodgers solo album cut.

There were a few surprises this night including May's gorgeous performance of "Last Horizon," which comes from his 1993 solo album, Back To The Light, as well as the Innuendo track, "Bijou," where May played along to some old footage of Freddy Mercury singing it on the big screen. This made up for a pretty uninspired guitar solo that preceded them, where it sounded more like an exercise in how much delay effect May could use with without actually traveling back in time. "'39" sounded brilliant this night with May sitting at the front of the stage strumming an acoustic guitar and singing lead while Taylor sat to his right on the kick drum and tambourine. After a minute or so they bring out the rest of the support band to add some upright bass, accordion, and a second acoustic guitar to the mix.

I particularly enjoyed all of the Bad Company song performances on the DVD, as Rodgers can still belt it out with the best of them, and May handled the guitar parts superbly. The old Free classic, "All Right Now," is what really brought the house down though.

The production quality of this DVD was outstanding. You get your pick of equally powerful DTS surround and PCM stereo audio tracks, while watching an exceptionally vivid widescreen picture. There were no special features included on this DVD.

I could not imaging sitting through the CD version of Live In Ukraine, – I'd much rather just break out my old Queen and Bad Company discs – but Queen + Paul Rodgers put on one hell of good concert performance here, which makes this excellent concert DVD definitely worth picking up.

Track List:
01. One Vision
02. Tie Your Mother Down
03. The Show Must Go On
04. Fat Bottomed Girls
05. Another One Bites The Dust
06. Hammer To Fall
07. I Want It All
08. I Want To Break Free
09. Seagull
10. Love Of My Life

11. '39
12. Drum Solo
13. I'm In Love With My Car
14. Say It's Not True
15. Shooting Star
16. Bad Company
17. Guitar Solo
18. Bijou
19. Last Horizon
20. Crazy Little Thing Called Love
21. C-lebrity
22. Feel Like Makin' Love
23. Bohemian Rhapsody
24. Cosmos Rockin'
25. All Right Now
26. We Will Rock You
27. We Are The Champions
28. God Save The Queen

Ratings:
Performance – 7/10
Production – 10/10

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  • Martin

    I watched this concert live on TV when I was in the Ukraine and thought that not only was it an inspiring sight, great music but a fantstic live performance.

  • rushfanguy

    Found this whole site quite by accident, I thought I might as well add myy exceptionally valuable opinion to the pool and thereby get to claim that hard as it may be to believe, the entire “comments” section agrees with ME!

    Anyway…. I was never what could be considered to be a Free/Bad_Company/Paul_Rodgers fan, and though I always thought Queen to be a pretty good band, having long considered “Fat Bottom Girls” to be on of the ten best in all of R&R ever…. When I heard about Queen + Paul Rodgers I thought it one of the worst ideas ever….

    And then I saw the Ukraine concert DVD….. Then my darling wife went and bought it for me….

    One of the very best concert DVD’s, ever. Hey dude, think whatever you want, but sooner or later you’ll realize that Paul Rodgers coming out singing in the middle of “Say It’s Not True” is one of the great recorded moments in Rock ‘n Roll history. There is no hiding, nor faking it either, that all of a sudden and all by himself, the lil MF’er filled the entire square there in Kharkov that evening