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Music DVD Review: Various Artists – ‘The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert’

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Twenty-one years ago, April 1992, the surviving members of Queen staged a massive gig at Wembley Stadium in London. It was meant to pay tribute to their friend and bandmate Freddie Mercury, as well as to raise awareness for AIDS awareness. Few will argue it failed in either of its goals.

While I was not there, despite being a few miles away, I watched it all on TV. This three-DVD collection pays a fitting tribute to the event. Disc three might be most interesting to those that actually saw the gig initially. It contains a documentary that was made in 2002 to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The reflections on the gig were quite interesting. There are three rehearsal videos as well to help get the flavor of the frenetic pace of the rehearsals before the gig. Sadly, the rehearsal for the duet between Axl Rose and Elton John is not one of those included.

And yes, the rockers who were “opening acts” for this gig do look completely out of place hanging out with the glitterati of the pop world. That said, I am sure Gary Cherone of Extreme could have had quite the chat with Liz Taylor about hairspray as their hair looked rather similar.

This is quite the epic release as it spans over three DVDs. It is great that they didn’t try to stuff it all into one or two discs. Sound and visuals are great, possibly in fact better than what you remember from watching it on your ’90s-era TV.

Freddie Mercury Tribute DVD cover (249x350)Particularly amusing is the variety in quality of the performances on offer. Almost everyone pulled a blinder and in some cases, George Michael for instance, was the best of their career. Some, like Liza Minnelli probably wish their bits were buried somewhere. Possibly off her head on something, she forgot the words and had to be bailed out by the backing singers. It is always interesting to see what bands and musicians stand the test of time at an event like this.

While this collection might not have that much interest for those too young to remember Mercury or the event, it is a good nostalgia trip for those of a certain age. A perfect all-evening/afternoon collection for one of those long, cold, and nasty winter days. If you are a Queen fan, you’ll find yourself hard-pressed not to sing along with the crowd.

And yes, the end still gets to me when you realize that it was truly the end of an era of music and the rock and roll lifestyle.

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