Queen The Greatest Live – Live In The 21st Century (Episode 45)

Brian May: Live in the 21st Century
Photo: © Queen Productions Ltd

“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 – Live In The 21st Century (Episode 45)

At the vanguard of British rock ‘n’ roll since 1970, Queen have seen the live experience evolve from a communion in the moment to the video sharing of the smartphone era. In this week’s exclusive video interview, Brian May and Roger Taylor hold forth on the biggest changes, for better and worse.

Queen straddled the ’70s and owned the ’80s – but they are almost unique as a band from that golden era of British rock who remain active and relevant in the modern age with an unrivalled ability to continuously amaze, and surprise their audiences with a must see show that, year on year, just gets bigger and better.

This week’s exclusive video interview with Brian May and Roger Taylor sees the Queen co-founders explain how the live experience has adapted to a changing world and answer the question on how shows and audiences of today compare to those when it all began.

“The reaction is very similar to what it used to be,” says Brian of this year’s triumphant Rhapsody Tour. “The biggest difference is mobile phones, because in the old days people didn’t have that stuff and they would just be there, their whole selves interacting in mind and body and eyes and ears. It’s not like that now. Everybody has this urge to kind of immortalise stuff. So, when you look out, you see almost as many mobile phones as people, which is weird. There are knock on effects from that because there’s nothing secret anymore. We used to go from town to town and audiences would have no idea what we were going to do. So everything was new and exciting. Nowadays people will have filmed it. It’ll be on YouTube, it will be on Instagram, and people will know what you did last night.”

Fortunately, as Brian reveals, he has a trick to nudge fans into enjoying an unmediated experience. “When I do Love Of My Life, I ask them to put their lights on. People don’t necessarily twig it, but what I’m saying is you’re not using your phone to film at this point. You’re actually using the light, so you can’t be filming at the same time. I think that’s partly why the moment is so powerful, because people suddenly go, ‘Oh, there’s nothing else except the performance’.”

As a band whose 2023 shows opened with the eye-popping illusion of an invading robot army, Queen can hardly be accused of an old-school mentality – and as Roger explains, technology also has its benefits. “Modern lights generate almost no heat. Before, the stage was like a furnace. Our lighting rig would come down and my stool would smoke. It was just so hot onstage, it was indescribable. Of course, that’s gone now. And then, you’ve got these wonderful screens, which are getting better every year. It’s possible to do amazing things with them.

Ultimately, explains Brian, the trick is to embrace the best of the cutting edge while never losing sight of the primal thrills of a live rock show. “There’s a few places where we’re consciously old school. One is definitely the way the lights are operated. A lot of people these days will work all on presets. Whereas we much prefer to get somebody pushing the buttons in time with us, feeling what we’re doing. Same with the video. We don’t work to a click, they have to be working the little bits of video to keep them in time with us, which is great. It makes everything locked in – it makes it a truly live show.”    

Queen The Greatest Live – Live In The 21st Century (Episode 45)
 – https://youtu.be/ZSVcySyNYNg

Next Week: 21st Century Queen – Hammer To Fall