Part 4: The Show
When I was 9 years old, I had to do a talk on a subject of my choice for something called ESB (The English Speaking Board). Encouraged by my Mum, who knew I had a fascination with art and architecture, I chose The Royal Albert Hall. Mum and I took a ride into London to do my research. Little did I know as a kid walking around that famous venue that I’d one day be performing on the stage with Queen. A domed, circular concert hall, it was built to commemorate errr, well, Prince Albert, the dead husband of Queen Victoria. One of the peculiarities of the building was that it had appalling acoustics. The nature of its shape meant that the sound of more than a few instruments became a giant cacophonous mess. Over the years, these problems were gradually rectified but it’s still a tough place to hear what you’re doing as a performer. I knew this meant that I’d have to be totally on my game on the night. I’m not overly accustomed to studious practice but I gave the song days and days of work at home in the lead up.
I arrived and made my way to the stage door. As it was a big charity event, there were lots of notable people milling around back stage. The dressing rooms had been cobbled together to accommodate the different performers. Each room was open topped, partitioned by fabric walls; not the ideal place to be blasting out repeated run throughs of the song. But, nonetheless, blast it out I did. I was next door to Barry Humphries, aka Dame Edna Everage. Wow, he seemed an exceptionally cantankerous character…and I can’t imagine my singing helped.
Sooner than I realised my moment was upon me. Here’s where I’ll let the video do the talking, save to say a couple of things:
First up, the reason that Brian had seemed emotional in rehearsals was that this was a song that no one had sung since Freddie had died. Wow, what an honour for me. In fact, I also learned that, after the rehearsal, they had become nervous about doing justice to my performance! As if?! Ludicrous.
Secondly, Brian had asked me if I’d join him for Freddie style moves during the guitar solo. I was so conflicted about this (as you’ll probably gather from the video) because I felt I would be stepping across a line into a world which didn’t belong to me. While I knew I could pull off the singing, I felt uncomfortable trying to occupy that part of the performance that was only ever owned by one person.
But singing the song and being there on that stage for those 5 minutes…well, it doesn’t come any better than that.