Queen Rock Montreal (DVD)


Eagle Vision, 2007


REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


Let it be said that Queen fans are anything but impatient: after nearly 25 years -- twenty-five long years of playing We Will Rock You, a badly-mixed, spliced together version of the band’s legendary performance at the Montreal Forum in 1981 courtesy of a shifty, rights-hogging director -- the band finally managed last year to reclaim the rights, piece together the chopped-up mix, and release the long-awaited, legitimate version of this well-loved concert.

Thankfully, it was most definitely worth the wait. 

In 1981, Queen were at the top of their game: they had just finished recording the soon-to-be smash hit The Game and the cult classic Flash Gordon and were taking South America by storm. Brimming with confidence and energy -- from Freddie Mercury’s soaring vocals, his range not yet roughened by smoking as at Wembley in 1986, to Brian May’s absolutely inimitable guitar sound to the Sonic Volcano of solidly low-key bassist John Deacon and raspy-voiced, pounding drummer Roger Taylor, Montreal showcases a tight band in top form (and for Queen purists, this tour was also the last time the band played without a keyboardist; instead, piano duty is swapped between May and Mercury throughout the show.) my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The band burst onto stage for an explosive, sped up rendition of “We Will Rock You,” the stomping choruses and firey bursts of guitars only undercut by the slightly lackluster audience participation, something that will dog the performance throughout (at one point, Mercury encourages them to “move around, shift your asses a little,” before adding, in classic Mercury fashion, “You can take all your clothes off if you like, too,” which no one seems to take him up on.) Unrelated, but also good for a laugh: he accidentally promises, “We will rock you, Chicago!” at the song’s close.

When it comes to the setlist, I’ve always preferred Montreal to Wembley, which tends to read like Queen’s Greatest Hits -- understandable, of course, considering the venue, but nevertheless trumped by this setlist’s inclusion of songs like “I’m In Love With My Car,” sung by Taylor, the band’s take on “Jailhouse Rock” and an epic rendition of “Somebody To Love,” to name a few that were replaced by the late 80s.

“Save Me,” for one, is even richer performed live, Mercury’s vocals heartbreakingly powerful on lines like “The slate will soon be clean / I’ll erase the memories / to start again with somebody new / was it all wasted? All that love?” and contrasted nicely with Taylor’s signature gruff harmonizing; meanwhile, tracks such as the perennial classic “Under Pressure” (performed live for the first time here) and the band’s hyperactive take on punk, “Sheer Heart Attack,” are full of characteristic Queen vigor and innovative instrumentation.

Admittedly, I might be biased after years of watching the hodgepodge, borderline monstrosity that is this disc’s predecessor, but regardless, Queen Rock Montreal is an absolute must-have for any Queen fan; with crisp sound and picture, it’s an excellent snapshot of a band at their prime, overflowing with raw, unrestrained energy and all the promise of the future.

Rating: A

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© 2007 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Eagle Vision, and is used for informational purposes only.