Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cosmos Rocking...

I saw Queen + Paul Rodgers live at the SECC last night. Fabulous.
No support act, no hanging about, no delays. Queen + Paul Rodgers came on at 8pm, exactly as planned and played for two and a bit hours. Great set.

I saw Q+PR at Newcastle on the 'Return of the Champions' tour a couple of years ago, they were good then, but they were better this time.

The audience ranged in age from about 8 to about 70. There were lots of Queen fans from the 70s who had brought their kids - now also Queen fans - along with them. There was a 16 year old boy near me air-guitarring the whole time. And there was a great atmosphere, everyone was just there for some fun.

I've often found the atmosphere in concerts in Glasgow to be more aggressive than concerts elsewhere, with the possibility of violence lying closer to the surface than normal, but there was none of that last night. It was a very good-natured gig.

There were no major surprises in the set-list, they played more or less the same range of 'greatest hits' as last time with a few tracks from the new album thrown in for good measure. But the sequence of songs was good and worked really well.

Let's face it, they won me over by starting with 'Hammer to fall' ;o)

Hammer to fall, Radio Ga-ga, I want to break free, I want it all, '39, All right now and the drum solo...

Low points:
Guitar solo, C-lebrity, Seagull.

Up until last night, the best drum solo I had ever seen in concert was Mick Fleetwood's solo in the Fleetwood Mac concert in the Edinburgh Playhouse in 1988. That solo was innovative and entertaining in that, halfway through it, Mick Fleetwood left the drum kit and carried on 'drumming' on his electronic waistcoat and, erm, dangling balls... but that solo has now been surpassed.

Roger Taylor started the solo with a single drum and cymbal - this was out on the satellite stage - after a minute or two, bass player Danny Miranda pushed the electric double bass that he had played the last song on closer and Roger started drumming on the strings of the double bass. A few fingerings from Danny and they played a few classic basslines between them - the theme from Jaws, Another one bites the dust and Under pressure. After a few minutes of this, Roger returned to the single drum and cymbal combo and Danny left the stage. Every minute or so, a stage hand would appear with another drum or cymbal and add it to the kit, so the drumkit ended up being a full kit - after about 10 minutes of this. The culmination of the solo turned into 'I'm in love with my car' which was good.

Brian May's guitar solo had its moments too. Those moments were the bits when it turned into 'Bijou' (complete with a tape of Freddie singing the single verse, which was really good) and 'Last Horizon' - in other words, the best bits were when he played actual tunes. But the rest of the 10+ minutes solo was the usual heard-it-all-before 'Now I'm here' and 'Brighton Rock'-esque guitar grunting with heavy delays. This was probably cool in 1974 but he's been doing more or less the same solo for over three decades now and its getting boring! Brian, please stop it!

Another thing Brian should stop is doing 'Tie your mother down' as the second song in every concert. Clearly he must think that this is his greatest song, but you know what? It isn't. Its dull and predictable these days.

But those two Brian gripes aside, he does well for a man of his age - running all over the stage, not seeming to get a note wrong, singing the occasional song and backing vocal and apprently having a good time. Of course, he is surpassed by Paul Rodgers when it comes to overall fitness and looking good for his age - I'd go as far as to say that PR looks better and fitter now than he did in his 70s heyday. On the last tour, Roger looked half dead at the end of the night, this time round he looked fine, so I guess all that touring and drumming over the past few years has been good for him.

I had hoped that the experience of the 'Return of the Champions' tour would have got the necessity of playing a 'greatest hits' set out of their systems, and the band could let songs like 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and 'Fat bottomed girls' go and play some more obscure (or rarely played) songs from their back catalogue. Sadly, no 'White Queen' or 'Sail away sweet sister' sneaked into the setlist. And it was faintly disappointing to realise that we'll probably never hear the great Brian or Roger solo tracks live in concert again. Pity, 'Foreign sand' or 'Resurrection' would have been good thrown into the mix.

But these are minor gripes. The band played a good selection of great songs and did them well. The atmosphere was fab and everybody on stage and off was having a good time.

Yes, it cost me £62 all told (once you take booking fees, postage and car parking into account) but it was worth every penny.

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