Written by General Jabbo
At the tail end of 1981, Queen was at the height of its considerable powers, having topped the album and singles charts in both the UK and US, playing for over 130,000 people in Brazil and with the number one video in the UK. It was during this period that they were filmed over two nights in Montreal. Originally titled We Will Rock You, Queen Rock Montreal & Live Aid is 96 minutes of Queen at their live best.
Filmed as one-off performances, this was the last time the band played with just its four original members on stage before Hot Space introduced keyboards and extra musicians into their live mix. It is also the first time they played their classic hit, “Under Pressure,” live. Touring off Greatest Hits, Queen played a set featuring songs from their entire career including “Keep Yourself Alive,” “Tie Your Mother Down,” and “Another One Bites the Dust.”
The original idea for the show, which was shot on 35mm film, was to take it on the road as sort of a traveling concert, played on large screens at high volumes – a precursor to IMAX in many ways. However the original film suffered from poor editing and sound problems. Those have since been fixed, as Queen now owns the rights to the film, which has been restored from the original negative and presented in newly mixed and remastered DTS Surround Sound.
From the included commentary from drummer Roger Taylor and guitarist Brian May, we learn the band was never comfortable with the film crew being around and that was a great source of tension, resulting in many of the songs being played much faster than their recorded versions. Still, tension often makes for great rock and roll, and the band really pushes the songs here with Freddie Mercury in great voice throughout.
Also included on the two-disc set is the band’s legendary performance at Live Aid. In 20 minutes, Queen reminded the world why they were one of the greatest live acts in the world with their tight powerful set of old classics including “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” as well as “Radio Gaga” and “Hammer to Fall” from their then-new album, The Works. Mercury and May return later for a duet on “Is This The World We Created,” also presented on the DVD.
In addition, there’s 11 minutes of unseen rehearsal and interview footage from Live Aid, a Web link to the Queen Rock Montreal Web site and an interview from the old US television show, PM Magazine.
For a good look at Queen at their live peak, as well as their complete Live Aid performance, Queen Rock Montreal & Live Aid is a must-own DVD. HD DVD and Blu Ray versions come out on Dec.4