Monday, 20 August 2012

“Hungarian Rhapsody: Queen Live In Budapest “86” Review

When I was fourteen years old, I had a real thing for Freddie Mercury; I was completely fascinated by him, his humour, charisma, his charm, and the way he strutted around on the stage full of confidence, the costumes, the characters, and the performance. His flamboyant personality was so exciting, it had a purity but most of all I believed it; it was not fake or manufactured in anyway. His voice will never be matched, his remarkable range, a voice that not only commanded and bewitched an audience of thousands, but a voice that made each one of those individuals believe he was singing just for them. He gave a new meaning to the word showmanship.

The Queen story is one of the most remarkable in pop history. The band formed in 1971 and in 1973 signed their first recording contract for EMI. BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY has become one of the greatest singles of all time and also credited with being the first genuine promotional video. Not only did they realise hit after hit, these songs were also set to become timeless power anthems, WE WILL ROCK YOU, WE ARE THE CHAPIONS, RADIO GA GA,  to name but a few. They were also asked to write scores for films such as FLASH GORDON and HIGHLANDER.

They toured all over the world. In 1981 they toured the Far East and were the first band to make a stadium tour of South America, they played to 131,000 people in Sao Paolo, the largest paying audience for a band anywhere in the world.

In 1985 they were the headlining act at Rock In Rio, the biggest festival to be held anywhere in the world, then came their show-stealing performance at Live Aid and this proved to be a huge turning point for the band.

On 23rd of November 1991 Freddie Mercury announced to the world that he had AIDS and the next day he died peacefully at his home, surrounded by family and friends, news which shocked and devastated fans throughout the world. As a tribute BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY/THESE ARE THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES was released as a double A-sided single to raise funds for the Terence Higgins Trust. It entered the UK charts at No. 1, where it stayed for five weeks, raising over £1,000,000 for the charity and Queen became the first band to have the same single top the UK charts twice.

In 1995 the tracks that Queen had begun in 1991 were completed by Brain, Roger and John. It was the end of an era. However the phenomenon of Queen has remained and continues. A ballet of their music, a hit musical WE WILL ROCK YOU which continues to play to packed out houses and standing ovations every night. Queen received their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2002; they have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Walk of Fame, and in the UK voted by the public into the first UK Music Hall of Fame. Also a major Hollywood movie about Queen is expected for release in 2013.

The evening kicked off with a 25 minute documentary, which follows the band leading up to the Budapest Concert, using wonderful archive footage from rehearsals, reviews and segments from the Magic Tour, it is fascinating and extremely funny. The footage from this extraordinary concert has been re-mastered in high definition and superb 5.1 surround sound. This was Freddie Mercury’s last tour and three years later the Berlin Wall would fall, at the time it was the largest concert ever staged at the Nepstadion, Budapest, and the first Western Rock Concert staged behind the then Iron Curtain. It was of such Significance to the Hungarian authorities and film industry that a group of the country’s top film cameramen and technicians were brought together to film it for posterity.

Queen was a true ensemble, each member hugely talented, each one penning number one singles for the band and those breathtaking harmonies. The footage is mind blowing, uplifting, funny and moving. You are reminded how important cinema is, seeing something like this one the big screen is a real treat, although I did get the feeling that most people watching sitting, feet tapping and head bopping away, there was a real urge to get up and dance. The music is after all utterly infectious and for those of who were not lucky enough or even born in time to attend a Queen concert this cinematic experience is a must see.

This film is wonderfully directed by Janos Zsombolyai but the real praise must go to all the cameramen, the Concert production/Stage Managers, Sound Crew everyone who was there in 1986 and helped make this concert happen, the audience members who’s faces tell their own unique stories of that truly unforgettable evening, which now all of us can enjoy for ever.

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