When Freddie died, we worried that he might not live forever. We needn’t have… 35 years years have passed and I’ve got a friend with 4 year old kid who has just discovered Queen. They’re still selling out stadiums, last year The English National Ballet choreographed a dance piece to Bohemian Rhapsody, ‘We Will Rock You’ the musical opens in Sydney in April and this week Queen star in a new movie on the big screen.
It’s called A Night In Bohemia. I saw it yesterday at 3:30. One more screening is scheduled for Wednesday night in Melbourne at 7:00pm. The movie focuses on a memorable 1975 BBC Christmas Eve special concert Queen did in London but it begins with a brand new documentary that goes for about 20 minutes, focusing on the bands first four albums.
A familiar theme emerges in the short doco – that great art always seems to come out of failure (and often repeated failure). Guitarist, Brian May says, quite candidly, that if the band’s fourth album A Night At The Opera hadn’t been a success, the band would probably have called it quits because even though their first three albums had been reasonably successful, their management had taken off with most of the money and they were all basically broke. Freddie had to get around on the train and according to drummer Roger Taylor ‘he hated that’.
With hindsight the genius of Bohemian Rhapsody is easy to recognise but it seems few had the foresight to see it’s potential in 1975. Record labels pleaded with Queen to shorten it or release it as three separate songs. In A Night In Bohemia we learn that Bass player John Deacon even went so far as to produce an edit for the bands consideration (basically leaving the opera section on the cutting room floor) but it got an overwhelming thumbs down.
Freddie stuck to his guns, proving that it’s easy to make something good but making something extraordinary so often involves struggle. In the end, the world got to hear all 5:55 of his Opus – Bohemian Rhapsody.
After the documentary, you get to see Queen absolutely crush their Christmas Eve gig at The Hammersmith Odeon in London. The show starts with Now I’m Here (complete with lighting effects and flash pots) and ends with In The Lap Of The Gods (complete with balloons, streamers and blow up dolls falling from the ceiling). In between you get to witness just how dynamic and rehearsed the band were in that moment. No in- ear foldback, no click track, no backing tracks. Just three instruments (and some occasional piano from Freddie).
An old lady sitting next to me turned to me during the end credits and said the music was so good she wished she didn’t have to sit in a chair the whole time. It was her only criticism. Even if true Queen fans don’t think they’ll learn anything new from A Night In Bohemia, how will they be able to resist hearing Ogre Battle in Dolby Surround Sound..
A Night In Bohemia is showing at selected Village cinemas on Wednesday 9th March at 7:00pm.
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