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15 July 2005: Queen + Razorlight + Peter Kay - Hyde Park, London, England, UK

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Cheese and Cheese and Crackers.

OK, it was a moment of weakness when my mate called up and asked if I wanted to see Queen in Hyde Park. Flashing premonitions of synchronised handclaps and broken down choruses with the vocals left out, so the sun burnt masses can sing together fooled me into parting with 50 quid and so it’s off to Hyde Park.

It’s a beautiful day and I’ve managed to get near the front – well the Hyde Park front which is about half a mile from the stage, thanks to the ‘Golden Circle’ enclosure for blaggers, slaggers and laggers taking up the first 5 miles of Hyde Park. I’m only really bothered about seeing Peter Kay anyway and when he arrives, like a purple blimp on the horizon, the northern bumpkin is cheered to the rafters. A quick trawl through decidedly dubious lyrics of top hits warms everyone nicely for Razorlight, who impressively managed to subdue the atmosphere almost instantaneously.

Another case of the Emperor’s New Clothes disease afflicting guitar music with Razorlight, I think. They look good and certainly have a wonderful frontman but the songs just weren’t there. 20 minutes into the umpteenth massive snare-roll build-up, only to peter out into a far-less than ballsy rattle and the even the goodwill of this pumped-up-like-a-balloon-you-know-is-going-to-pop crowd is starting to deflate. A few nice melodies here and there but with chaotic song structuring and enormously over-indulgent arrangement, the achingly cool quickly became achingly aching!

A bit more Peter Kay, this time appearing as his alter-ego, wheelchair-bound Brian Potter was gratefully received by the now-huge crowd. A bad-taste medley of immobility, wheel-related songs left everyone addled with PC-fuelled guilt for laughing. How can something that feels so good be bad…?

And so to the main event. After a fantastically prolonged set of intros comprising of some very-atmospheric 80s style reverb laden guitar (great… if you like that sort of thing) and then some house tune that Freddy did, which was rubbish – even the diehards weren’t bothered, before finally and utterly bizarrely the band took to the stage to the strains of Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’. A brave choice, with congruity going straight out of the window! Did it work? No. A whole section of the crowd were obviously well over 40 and as such had little clue what on earth was going on. If felt a bit like when you were at school and had to go places with your parents. Cringe-worthy moment number one of the set and as yet May et al haven’t played a note!

And so, at last the show gets under way and as you’d expect it’s a barrage of huge hits, taken from Queen’s impressive back catalogue but also from guest frontman Paul Rodgers’ days with Free. You can’t help but like them and their wildly OTT cheesy rock antics. Rodgers is in particularly stunning cheesy form, looking like the cool teacher at the school disco. Admirably too, the band have donated thousands of tickets to London’s Emergency Services, who receive a massive cheer. A touching air of defiance is present as drummer Roger Taylor refers to last weeks tragic events and cheekily shouts ‘business as usual’. Good point, well made.

As the poignant mood grows, May, Taylor and Rodgers move to the end of the gangway, deep into the audience and announce they’re going to do a song by ‘the greatest ever rock star –after Freddy’ to huge cheers from the partisan crowd. What followed was a decimation of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. Some songs should not be covered by cheesy rawk gods wearing leather trousers and white trainers. The sentiment was nice but the realisation of it was not. Cringe-worthy moment number 2 firmly achieved!

In actual fact, as the rock legends continued to slam out classic after classic, including a surprisingly subtle tribute to Freddy, it’s virtually non-stop cringe-worthy moments. I didn’t realise bands actually do say ‘you’re beautiful’ to the audience and when Rodgers screams ‘you can’t stop the rock’, I realised new heights of Spinal cheesiness had been scaled. It’s great fun, just a bit embarrassing!

And so I defy you, when you next go to a wedding or birthday or some other big shindig and the DJ slips on ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ or ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ to not tap your feet. Can’t be done. However cheesy, these guys really are part of rock history and standing in the sunshine singing some of the most famous songs ever written, played by the band that wrote and first performed them is pretty much a one-off experience.

Just hope no-one saw me!

© chriswoods,

The views expressed in these reviews do not necessarily reflect those of the team.

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