There’s an almost ethereal quality to good music; everyone hears a song at some point in their life that they feel connected to on a spiritual level, a connection that can’t be explained because it speaks to their soul rather than to their brain. In a world that seems so full of hate and an insistence to focus on the differences between yourself and the people standing beside you, music is a rare breed that can unite people with one another. There’s no better way to experience that unity than at a concert where your favorite band is playing.
And no band brings people together like Queen.
I was lucky enough to get tickets to not one, but both, of Queen’s back-to-back concerts that they performed at The Forum in Los Angeles on July 19th and 20th. For a die-hard fan like myself, it was a dream come true to have the opportunity to see rock-and-roll legends like Brian May and Roger Taylor in person, doing what they do best on a stage in front of thousands of cheering fans. Alongside them was Adam Lambert singing his heart out with a passion that would have made Freddie himself proud.
Queen possesses a magic that transcends time, witnessed as several generations of people stood and stomped their feet to “We Will Rock You”. As people young and old threw their hands in the air and clapped along to “Radio Ga Ga”. It’s a sight to behold, looking out across the audience and seeing thousands of hands in the air, open toward the stage as they waited for their cue to clap. And who could forget Roger singing his fan-favorite “I’m In Love with My Car”? For those who don’t know already, he has the voice of an angel.
“Love of My Life” is a tear-jerker as Brian May walks down the stage, a chair and microphone waiting for him. He pauses a few times along the way, bowing slightly as deafening cheers echo through the stadium, still humbled after all these years.
“Sing along,” he requested, “Freddie loved this one.” And you could hear it, every voice in that stadium chanting along with him as they held up their flashlights. It was almost as if he was sitting in space, stars shining so bright they illuminated the entire stadium. It was his birthday, he reminded everyone, and he had no other place he would rather be. And yet another priceless moment, as the chorus of voices joined together again to sing happy birthday to the living legend.
The next night happened to be the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, and everyone’s favorite space nerd Brian May commemorated it as the live-playing of “39” was broadcast to NASA’s ‘live’ replay of the event. Both nights featured a truly memorable performance of his latest solo “New Horizons”, broadcast in space not too long ago for NASA’s Ultima Thule mission. The amphitheater went dark as the screen lowered, lighting up with thousands of stars and rising out of space on a fiery asteroid was none other than Brian May himself, playing his epic guitar solo. The perfect picture of the rock legend that he is.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” closed off a truly memorable show. The first notes played and the audience screamed, leaping to their feet as fast as they could. Whether you are a casual fan or a certified ‘Queenie’, you know that song. Everyone sang every little weird part in that song, not pausing for a single breath to keep up with the high and low calls of “Galileo!”
For the third time in the two hour show, I found myself so overwhelmed with emotion that tears came to my eyes. There’s no sound quite so beautiful as an entire group of human beings singing together in unison, united with a common love of the best song ever written. When it ended, the roar of the crowd was the loudest I’d ever heard as they stomped their feet and chanted “Encore!” The usher behind me clearly had never heard such applause, her fingers holding her ears and her eyes wide as she looked around in shock.
The tears that had been brimming in my eyes throughout the show finally rolled as the screen lowered and a projection of Freddie Mercury lit up. Fitting, as that was what this show was, a tribute to the man whom the band and the world loved so very dearly. As he called out through the years, “Ay-oh!”, the audience answered without pause. This recording, decades-old, had the power to move people to answer in what was perhaps the most moving part of the entire show. The love and admiration radiating out of over fifteen-thousand people for a man who sadly passed on well before a good number of them were even born, and whom they’d certainly never even met, was absolutely overwhelming.
That’s what Queen is, it’s what they’ve always been: love. They play for everybody because their music is for everybody. They are a cross-generational, timeless, classic that never ceases to lose their charm. Misfits, outcasts, vagabonds, the people who don’t feel like they belong anywhere. They belong here. That is what they preach when they play their music. That is what Freddie means when he calls out to his audience. And when Freddie calls, you answer.