DVD review: QUEEN + – The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert

Eagle Rock

Staged back on April 20th 1992 this was a the all star tribute concert held in honour of Freddie Mercury who had died the previous November as well as raising awareness of AIDS and funds for Mercury Phoenix Trust charity.

I can still remember phoning (this was pre-internet days folks!) from my then work’s office and getting a pair of tickets to the concert via Stargreen and being successful! The show sold out in the then record time as you’d expect. The concert still lives on in the old memory some twenty years later and Extreme, George Michael and Guns ‘N’ Roses still steal the show reliving the concert on this three disc DVD set.

The three discs have the support acts in disc one (less Spinal Tap who could have easily proved a hit on the day but were very disappointing); disc two has the three surviving Queen members – Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon – supported by various guest vocalists and musicians and disc three has the 10th anniversary documentary plus rehearsal footage of various stars including George Michael and David Bowie (who always seems to have a cigarette in his hand whenever he appears!).

Of the support acts Metallica stormed through three of their songs off the then new ‘Black’ album, James Hetfield later appears for a rocking run through the Queen classic ‘Stone Cold Crazy’ (covered by Metallica on CD too).

Extreme were the band of the day though as they performed a lively set of Queen classics in a megamix form, preferring this to doing a few of their hits (back then they had just reached their peak of success). They too did ‘Stone Cold Crazy’, ‘Keep Yourself Alive’ and ‘Radio G-Ga’ amongst their set with vocalist Gary Cherone bouncing round the stage with a big grin on his face and clearly loving every minute of it playing these Queen classics to such an appreciative crowd.

Guns ‘N’ Roses were on top of their game and Slash in particular was another musician you could see was having a blast on stage with the Queen members.

When Brian, Roger and John started their set the list of vocalists covering the Queen back catalogue was very impressive with George Michael really showing his vocal class on ‘39’ (a song he used to busk) and ‘Somebody To Love’, which was a real show stopper with added gospel choir on the choruses.

There were some bizarre duos as Elton John and Axl Rose joined forces on ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and then Elton stayed on stage as Tony Iommi joined Brian May in cranking up the riffs on ‘The Show Must Go On’.

Rock gods? You had ‘em with Roger Daltry fair belting out ‘I Want It All’ (with guitar god Tony Iommi also on stage) and Robert Plant doing his rock ‘n’ roll thing on ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’. Sadly for whatever reason Plant vetoed the inclusion of ‘Innuendo’ he also performed on the day.

The only non-Queen diversion in the second half was David Bowie singing and playing sax on ‘All The Young Dudes’ with Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson, with Ronson staying onstage to help out on ‘Heroes’. Both were a real treat in a day of great music.

Disc three has the documentary made to mark the show’s 10th anniversary and has live footage interspersed with interviews with musicians involved on the day. The rehearsal footage gives a little insight to the pre-show work, although even in rehearsal mode both George Michael and Annie Lennox seem to nail their songs with ease.

A very special concert for a very special singer and band; nicely rounded up on DVD now after being on video. The picture and sound quality does vary in places, although to be fair back then it was being filmed more with TV in mind rather than the state of the art live shows filmed with DVD/Bluray in mind you get now. Perfect Christmas present for any Queen fan and a ‘must have’.

*****

Review by Jason Ritchie


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