Published On: Fri, Feb 17th, 2023

Brian May on how Led Zeppelin inspired Freddie Mercury and Queen live | Music | Entertainment

In this week’s episode of Queen The Greatest Live, Brian May and Roger Taylor appear in new filmed interviews below looking back at the band’s epic opening numbers. In the early days with Freddie Mercury and John Deacon this could even be We Will Rock You, which is now saved to the end of Queen and Adam Lambert concerts alongside We Are The Champions. The band’s drummer shared: “As with most shows, I’m not talking about plays or anything like that, I think for the audience, they want to be blown away at first. So if you can blow them away a bit at first, we used to say blind them, deafen them, and then calm down a bit after 20 minutes. But it’s really you try and make an impact with the first song visual and obviously sort of an aural attack really. And then you try and space the songs intelligently, but you really want to go bang, bang, bang, bang at the beginning of a show.”

Brian May said: “Yeah, openings and closings of shows are incredibly important. What’s in the middle is important too. But you know, the way you come on and the way you leave are the most significantly memorable moments. So a lot of thought goes into the opening, and it’s been a speciality of mine for a long time. In fact, sometimes writing a song, you’re already aware that it would be a good opener. You see it in that light.

“The production starts to take place in your head. We’ve had some really good openers and I think generally they’ve come out of the music. You see, I think our show is also different from many shows in that everything comes from the music. It’s not like just let’s put on a pretty light show and play some music. Everything comes from the music, everything is making the music more expressive, making it connect better.”

Brian continued: “So knowing that process and that sort of solid seat of it, it’s actually quite easy to fashion those moments. And it’s fun. It’s so fun to plan it out, plan the sound, plan where we’re going to be, planning the lights and everything and then see the effect on the audience and go, ‘Yes, that works’.”

Roger added: “We’ve had some good openings. I used to like the kabuki. The big curtain just disappears in front of your eyes and suddenly reveals all. That was always a good, good gag.”

The guitarist then went on to share how The Who and Led Zeppelin inspired Queen’s live openings fronted by Freddie.

READ MORE: Brian May told Freddie Mercury to ‘stop fighting annoying Queen fans’

Brian May shared: “I remember going to see a show by The Who or Zeppelin, and you’re sitting there in the audience and they’re late and it’s all hot and steamy and sweaty, and you think… ‘What are they going to do when they come on?’ and it’s that amazing moment when they first hit the stage. So we’re very aware of that and we try to give… we’re never late. But we try to give that feeling, justify that feeling of anticipation, give them something that they’ve never quite seen before.”

Queen used to have support acts like Thin Lizzy, but don’t believe they need them anymore. Roger explained: “It’s nice to sort of create an atmosphere, I think, and we use very sort of ambient things. Sounds for that through the P.A., not loud, just to get a nice buzz, hopefully, and an expectant buzz. I think many acts do that. Support act? Yes. We’ve had them in the past. Many and it’s always been fine. But I think the show these days is big. It’s a massive production and really, and it’s long, and I think it’s just a bit sort of superfluous really. We don’t feel we need a support act and so we don’t have one.”

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Brian added: “Basically, we have a lot to offer on a given night and we like to use the whole evening. So we like to do the whole show ourselves. It’s like we kind of do the warm up ourselves. In some ways it’s a shame because it’s nice to take a support group out because it gives them a leg up and it gives them a good chance to be seen.

“But at the same time, we’ve talked to our audience a lot of the time, and I think most of them prefer what we do. They like to have the whole evening, just us, that we’ve actually made the effort to put our show together, which lasts two and a half hours or more, which encompasses everything that they might want to see us do. And you can’t do that in any less time than that, really.”

Next week’s episode of Queen The Greatest Live is titled Now I’m Here.

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