Rock In Rio Festival returns to roots on 30th Anniversary


Adam Lambert

18 September 2015

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – Thirty years after their late lead singer Freddie Mercury led an adoring Rio crowd in a legendary rendition of “Love of My Life,” Queen returns to the Rock in Rio festival this weekend. That performance, with 250,000 people singing along in the rain, was the highlight of the inaugural festival, and this year’s gathering, starting Friday, hopes to recapture the magic.

Queen will take back the stage, with guest frontman Adam Lambert, on Friday.

Some 85,000 people are expected for each day of the concerts, running through Sunday at Athletes’ Park, close to where much of the Olympics will be held next year. A second festival session will be held next week, from September 25 to 27.

In 1985, Brazil was just coming out of a long military dictatorship when 1.3 million people attended what was then a 10-day rock festival.

In addition to Queen, this year’s version will feature some of the artists from that original event, including Rod Stewart. Brazilian golden oldies Paralamas do Sucesso, Lulu Santos and Erasmo Carlos will be there, as will Metallica, System of a Down, Slipknot, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Elton John and A-ha.

– Long live the Queen –

But Queen will be the main draw for many.

At the original concert, guitarist Brian May invited the whole crowd to sing along and got a spine-tingling response. “You want to sing with us? This is especially for you,” he said. “This song is very special for people of South America.” This time, Freddie Mercury, who died of AIDS in 1991, won’t be there to conduct the crowd or take over with his famously pure voice.

But Queen+Adam Lambert, as the current collaboration is calling itself, is already getting good reviews, and tickets for their Friday night performance sold out within two hours.

Rio’s horrendous traffic congestion, made worse by sprawling Olympic construction projects, means it could take two hours to drive from the city center to the Barra de Tijuca neighborhood where the concert is being held. And cars are not allowed at the City of Rock concert venue, anyway; only buses are.

Rock lovers won’t be the only ones hoping the getting to and from the event goes well as the event is being used as a practice run for the crowds expected next August at the Olympics.

Rain isn’t expected to be a problem, as it was three decades back. Since 2001, the festival, like many major events in Rio, has hired a spiritual advisor from the Cacique Cobra Coral Foundation to intervene on their behalf and ask a spirit to prevent rain during on the festival.

“It will rain after, but not during Rock in Rio,” foundation spokesman Osmar Santos assured AFP Less spiritually connected weather experts agree as dry weather and light winds are forecast for the weekend.