When I was growing up, my dad and I used to spend our Sunday’s watching movies and listening to music. Not the movies and music of the time, but what my dad liked to call “the classics” or “the greats”. From my earliest memory, these father – daughter dates were the highlight of my week. It wasn’t so much the movies I looked forward to, that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy them, but the music… Oh, the music.
My dad’s all time, number one, most favourite band in the world, is Queen. We would sit in the living room playing record after record, not saying a word, just enjoying each other’s company and the music as it enveloped us.
In 1985, my dad got to live out one of his ultimate dreams. Seeing Queen live. And to this day, he tells the story of the time he was in the same room as Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon and Spike Edney. It’s a story he now tells my son, as the two of them have now begun their journey into “the classics”, devoting a part of their Saturday’s to sitting around listening to music. And yes, my dad still gets his records out.
When Freddie Mercury passed away in 1991, I think a part of my dad died with him. I was 12 at the time and can remember my dad’s eyes losing a little bit of their sparkle, and I can vividly remember the utter sadness in my dad’s voice when he told me that Freddie was gone, and that I would never get the chance to see Queen live on stage, for myself.
Well dad, I did.
Last night (August 26) I got to live out one of my ultimate dreams. Seeing Queen live. I have been to hundreds of concerts in my life, from tiny little pub gigs, to big scale theatrical productions. But nothing will ever compare to what I witnessed last night.
From the moment the night began, from meeting my friends at the train station, to taking our seats, I was in awe. As we walked along the corridor to find the entrance to our section, I refused to look in the other doors as we passed, not wanting to see the stage until we were seated. I needed that moment, that “ GASP. IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?” moment. And I got it.
The Allphones Arena in Sydney is huge (for an Australian venue), seating approximately 21, 000 people. The stage was set at the end, shrouded by curtain, with a curved runway to one side and mini stage at the end. At 8:05pm, the crowd began chanting and clapping, waiting for the curtain to drop.
Not long after, the first licks of a guitar could be heard, the first beats of the drum, and from our vantage point, we could see Adam Lambert make his way up the stairs.
I just want to take a moment to say a few things about Adam. Firstly, I adore him. I am the kind of person who greatly dislikes any form of “reality” television. However, one of my secret pleasures is watching the auditions on American Idol. I enjoy watching people make asses of themselves on international television and usually, that’s all I watch. Once they move on to the actual competition, I tune out. That was until Adam Lambert came along.
On the 8th season of AI in 2009, Lambert auditioned with “Bohemian Rhapsody”, he only sang 5 lines, but that was enough. I was hooked, and I still am.
That being said, let’s get back to matters at hand.
I can’t tell you from memory, the songs they played, they were on stage for just over two and a half hours. Combining my sheer joy, my tears (of which there were many) and the whole being overwhelmed thing, it will most likely be several days until I can form a clear picture in my mind of the entire night.
Luckily, thanks to the promoter, Dainty Group, they have provided a copy of the set list via their Facebook, which I have included at the end of the article.
The entire arena sang along to some of their biggest hits. “Killer Queen”, “Fat Bottomed Girls”, “Somebody to Love”, “Radio Gaga”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and of course “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
Brian May performed one of the most incredible guitar solos I have ever seen, he literally made his guitar sing. It was something truly incredible to witness.
Roger Taylor and his son Rufus had a drum battle of epic proportions, and it’s clear to see the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in regards to musical talent. The two of them performed together before launching into “Under Pressure”.
As I said before, I did shed a few tears at the enormity of what I was seeing, but I was unprepared for the emotions I felt during “Bohemian Rhapsody”. I knew I had to capture it on video, and unfortunately I missed the beginning because I couldn’t see my phone clearly through my unshed tears.
Those unshed tears didn’t remain unshed for long. At the start of the third verse, Lambert stepped aside and pointed to the big screen as a recording of Freddie Mercury took over on vocals, and I bawled, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. For the remaineder of the song, Lambert and Mercury shared the stage. And it was magical.
Once the song came to an end, I was a mess, and Queen left the stage. There was thunderous applause filling the arena and it was over. Well, not quite. After a minute or so of applause and screaming and cheering from the audience, Lambert and Queen returned to the stage for their encore, and two of their biggest and best known songs, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions”.
The stage lit up, the glitter cannons went off, Adam, Brian, Roger and John took centre stage for their applause, and it was done.
When I finally arrived home, I knew my dad would be waiting for me to call, despite the fact that it was well after midnight. He answered on the second ring and when he asked how it was all I could say was “Daddy, I did it. I saw Freddie” and I burst into tears again. We sat there together on the phone, just listening to each other’s sobs, and after ten or so minutes, my dad said goodnight and hung up.
I had grown up listening to their music, with a knowing that I would never get the chance to see it for myself. I never expected to be writing this, having actually done it.
Before I sign off, I need to make an acknowledgement. Last night would never have happened were it not for two of my closest friends, who conspired and schemed behind my back to purchase my ticket. To Clare and Camilla, you will never truly understand the gift you have given me and I will never, ever forget it. Thank You.
Set List: Allphones Arena. Sydney, Australia. August 26, 2014
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