Queen The Greatest Live : A Kind Of Magic (Episode 39)

Brian May on stage
Photo: © Queen Productions

“Queen The Greatest Live” The Greatest series returns with a year-long celebration of Queen Live. A 50-week YouTube series going behind the scenes to reveal what goes into creating a Queen show, featuring moments from iconic performances and demonstrating why the band is regarded as the ultimate live act.

Queen The Greatest Live : A Kind Of Magic (Episode 39)

Queen pull out a classic from the Highlander soundtrack as they rock Wembley Stadium in the summer of 1986. It’s another triumphant moment in front of a home crowd – not to mention some very unruly inflatable friends.

Queen might have conquered stadiums around the world, but in the mid-’80s, Freddie Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor almost seemed like London’s Wembley Stadium’s house band. While 1985’s Live Aid gave them just 21 minutes to steal the show, for the following summer’s Magic Tour, the band returned to the North London venue for two headliner nights– and had a few more tricks up their sleeve.

Written by Roger Taylor, A Kind Of Magic had first featured on the soundtrack to the 1986 fantasy movie Highlander (the band also contributed fan-favourites including Who Wants To Live Forever and Princes Of The Universe). But while Brian once described the original’s pulsing synth-rock as “quite lugubrious and heavy”, Freddie developed a funkier and lighter-footed treatment that would be re-recorded with producer David Richards.

“Originally, A Kind Of Magic was used at the end of the movie, over the closing credits,” Roger recalled. “It was a grander concept with a much more broken-up tempo. Freddie really believed in this song and we reworked it as a single.”

Hitting UK#3 as the third single and title track of 1986’s A Kind Of Magic album, the song was already an anthem when Queen arrived at the national stadium that July for two back-to-back performances. “It became very popular onstage,” Roger reflected, “and when we did it on the 1986 Magic Tour, which was our last ever tour, it used to go down incredibly well.”

This week’s archive footage from Wembley proves just how quickly A Kind Of Magic had joined Queen’s canon of classics, as Freddie leads the 72,000-strong audience in a mass singalong of the song’s many memorable lines (including the pop-culture perennial, ‘There can be only one’). Meanwhile, in a surreal twist, the band are watched by their own giant inflatable avatars based on the cartoons from the A Kind Of Magic album sleeve – with the ‘Freddie’ balloon escaping the stadium and apparently found the next day by a somewhat startled lady half-deflated in her garden several miles away!

Queen The Greatest Live : A Kind Of Magic (Episode 39)

Next week: Queen The Greatest Live – Stone Cold Crazy