Queen The Greatest Live : The Encore (Episode 41)

Freddie in crown and robe
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.

“What do you want to have in people’s heads as they go out? I think it’s fulfilment. It’s like good sex. You want to come out of it thinking, ‘Yeah, that was everything it should have been’.” Brian May

Queen The Greatest Live : The Encore (Episode 41)

The show must go on – right up until the thundering climax that sends Queen fans home in raptures. In this exclusive brand new video interview Roger Taylor and Brian May explain the art of a roof-raising encore and the all-important role played by the fans.  

The old showbiz adage – ‘always leave them wanting more’ – has never applied to Queen. Each night, when the band leave the stage for the first time, there is the tacit understanding they will return to sate a crowd still ravenous for anthems. Now, in this week’s exclusive video interview for Queen The Greatest Live, co-founders Brian May and Roger Taylor reveal their unique philosophy to encores.

“I think audiences these days are aware the encore isn’t really the old-fashioned kind, which was, ‘Oh, that was so wonderful, we actually want more’,” says Roger. “It’s built into the show. You’re expecting to play it. They’re expecting to hear it. And our encores have very well-known songs. It would feel quite weird if they’d come to a show and we hadn’t played them. So it’s not a secret.”

As Brian explains, there are practical reasons for a set-break, allowing the band to regroup and rally for the home straight. “You have to go off and refresh at that point because you’ve given everything and you’re like a wet rag at the end of what we’ve done after two-and-a-half hours. You know, you need to go off, change your clothes and take a deep breath for that final push.”

In Queen’s early days, the band might sign off with a bombastic moment like In The Lap Of The Gods… Revisited, or even a revved-up cover. “On Jailhouse Rock, we could go a bit mad,” reflects Roger. “We used to do Big Spender as well.”

But from 1977, the band realised no finale could top the back-to-back singalongs of We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions. “It’s that participation thing,” says Brian. “The fact the fans can stretch their bodies upwards to the sky and sing and chant and stamp and clap to Rock You and Champions is kind of an unbeatable thing. You can’t really follow that.”

Ultimately – as another vital element of a Queen show’s ebb and flow – the encore is precision-tooled to leave fans buzzing. “How do you want to send people out?” considers Brian. “It’s a big question, which we do ask ourselves. You know, what do you want to have in people’s heads as they go out? And I think it’s fulfilment. It’s like good sex. You know, you want to come out of it thinking, ‘Yeah, that was everything it should have been’. And you want people to be talking to each other: ‘Ah, that was awesome. Do you remember the bit where…?’ Just like we used to as kids when we left The Who shows.” 

Queen The Greatest Live: The Encore (Episode 41)

Next week : Queen The Greatest Live : Jailhouse Rock

Photo © Queen Productions