Queen The Greatest Live : We Will Rock You (Episode 44)

Queen perform Japan May 1985 © Queen Productions
Queen perform Japan May 1985 © 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 : We Will Rock You (Episode 44)

Brian May’s foot-stomping, hand-clapping anthem never fails to galvanise the entire audience, its legendary beat too compelling to resist. But as we see in this montage of archive Queen shows, an added visual flourish from Freddie Mercury ensured the song’s unifying effect transcended borders and cultures.

Never in the history of rock ‘n’ roll have three percussive notes made such an impact. When Brian May wrote We Will Rock You, after a particularly raucous show at Stafford’s Bingley Hall in the late-’70s, he hoped it would spark a primal call-and-response with the Queen hardcore. 

But the guitarist could scarcely have imagined just how far that beat would travel – with this week’s archive footage showcasing the ubiquitous stomp-stomp-clap at four shows spanning from the Far East to South America. 

From its inception, We Will Rock You’s propulsive and near-Pavlovian rhythm made it an obvious choice for the encore, blurring the lines between performer and audience. But as we see in this latest episode of Queen The Greatest Live, the song also allowed the band – and Freddie Mercury in particular – to put their hands across the water, saluting crowds on home turf and foreign soil alike.

At the Milton Keynes Bowl in ’82, the singer emerges from the wings in a traditional wide-brimmed hat to greet his countrymen. At Hungary’s Népstadion on the 1986  Magic Tour Freddie salutes the audience with its national white, red and green flag colours.  At 1985’s Rock In Rio, he appears swaddled in the colours of the Brazilian flag with its famous motto Ordem e Progresso (‘Order and Progress’),  while most flamboyant of all, the singer slowly walks to the lip of the stage in Japan ’85 – before spinning to reveal that the reverse of his Union Jack cape bears the crimson dot of the Hinomaru. 

In each case, just as Brian had intended all those years before, the crowd is united under one banner. “We Will Rock You brings people together,” says the guitarist. “That’s probably the best thing of all…”   

Queen The Greatest Live: We Will Rock You (Episode 44)

Next week : Queen The Greatest Live : 21st Century Queen