(Editor's note: The following appeared as the first section of Marty Davis's weekly entertainment column.)
As Frankfurt's Festhalle came in view. I was amazed at the masses of bodies that were waiting for the opening of Queen's concert. I couldn't believe the shoving and pushing that followed.
Inside, I watched the empty cavernous main floor fill up — rapidly. Bodies were pressed against more bodies. Within minutes there was no space to be seen in front of the stage. Soon there were more than 3,000 persons in this one section alone.
As Jim Rylander and I sat in the middle level, I was thankful we had this place for me to take pictures. Normally I am down front but this time there was no room there. After I saw all the moving that Freddie Mercury did, I would never have been able to keep up with him.
Sad to say, the warmup band did nothing to set the mood for Queen. Or maybe Bullet did a favor for by the time the group finished, I knew that anything that followed would be better. Perhaps Bullet just "misfired."
Anyway, here's how we saw Queen's concert.
Thunder growled and lights flashed as Queen opened its show with a close encounter of the musical kind from Flash Gordon's theme music.
It felt like we were blasting off on a UFO ship as four sets of floating laser lights began to rise from the sides and back of the stage. As each set with its three lights swept the area, it gave you the sensation of a launching. Part of Queen's tremendous appeal is the visual effects the musicians use and are as much a part of the program as the music.
After this good, but recorded opening Queen materialized onto the thick, fog-covered stage. Brian May's guitar was searing along with the powerful vocals from Mercury in Tie Your Mother Down that rocked the packed hall.
Mercury is not only a show but he controlled everything that happened onstage. He is a first class entertainer. This lead singer seldom stands still. He is forever prancing around the stage. It is as if he is proud of his body and he wants to make sure that everybody else knows it, too.
The more than 10,000 audience was screaming for more as Mercury and the hand performed their originals, Somebody to Love and the Elvis-sounding Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
The two-hour show also gave us Stay in Power, one of several songs from Queen's soon-to-be-released album, Hot Space. The LP's cover, displayed on Roger Meddows-Taylor's bass drum, has a face with red-rimmed eyes that stared across the room at us.
Another single from the new LP is a reggae-based tune called Liar. Reggae is a new field that Queen is moving into. This single also managed to keep Taylor occupied with the Jamaican sound.
The tranquil bass guitarist John Deacon rounds out this flamboyant quartet. He is such a contrast to the forever-moving Mercury. Deacon seemed content to just stand there playing bass while we watched Mercury gyrating.
Keyboardist Morgan Fisher, who is not usually a part of the foursome, was providing background music from the background. From what he "added," I think he needed to be further back, like offstage.
Some highlights included May's blistering guitar solo during Now I'm Here where he harmonized with himself using an echo chamber, and Mercury's rapport with the audience between songs. He would sing without music with the crowd singing back to him as he conducted the huge "choir."
Highlighting the show was the classic, Bohemian Rhapsody, which Mercury opened by accompanying himself on his piano while the band slowly built to a crescendo. Suddenly the lights went out. Queen left while a tape of this multi-track operetta played. Queen uses many voices for this track and to reproduce the same effect onstage, the musicians used a tape. Before the concert, I wondered how the group would do this number in a live show — I found out.
Through the cover of exploding flashpot smoke, Queen returned to finish this flashy song with Taylor striking the final note on a huge gong.
On this note, Queen left. The fans set up a howl, demanding the rock group to return which the musicians did. In this return, we saw Deacon in his element with the heavy disco beat of Another One Bites the Dust. Queen also performed Sheer Heart Attack before leaving the audience to demand more.
Of course, Queen came back playing We Will Rock You. This track invariably leads into the group's hit We Are the Champions which closed out the second encore. And the audience went wild, wanting and demanding more by stomping feet and shouting "Queen, Queen, Queen."
As hoped Queen returned but for the last time with God Save the Queen. My only question was — Which Queen?