In preparation for Tuesday’s concert by one of those Queen tribute bands, I re-watched my Queen Live at Wembley DVD, otherwise know as The Last Concert Ever by the Original Four Members of Queen. Talk about going out on top. This late in their career, it’s just wall-to-wall hits… so many they can’t include them all, since they also want to include some surprises as well. It’s the end of a long tour, so the set is well-honed; they sound fantastic. The massive crowd is adoring and lively.
Most awe-inspiring: The part where Freddie does these solo gymnastics with his voice, teasing around his highest register, demonstrating why he’s the best rock singer ever. Then followed by Brian May pyrotechnics on guitar. Then “Brighton Rock.”
Most fun: When all four members of the band gather at the front of the stage and swing through a medley of early rock classics: “(You’re so Square) Baby I Don’t Care”, “Hello Mary Lou (Goodbye Heart)”, “Tutti Frutti”, and “Gimme Some Lovin’”. Then BoRhap.
Most heartwarming: The crowd singalong during “Love of My Life”. I love the British fans—unlike the North Americans, they know all the Queen songs, not just the greatest hits.
Most chilling: Freddie, the only man in the room with an inkling that this might be the band’s last concert ever (he hadn’t yet told his band mates of his HIV-positive status), explaining how rumors of Queen’s breakup are highly exaggerated, and that the band is going to be together “until we fucking well die—I’m sure of it!” Then launching into “Who Wants to Live Forever?”.
And then for something completely different…
Jean and I watched Lisztomania, director Ken Russel’s 1976 or so film, very loosely based on the life of pianist and composer Franz Liszt. Definitely one of the weirdest movies I’ve ever seen. It starts as a kind musical comedy-romance, then gradually becomes this sort of gothic horror movie with vampires and demons, and then there’s kind of a bit with war and Nazis, and finally there’s a space ship. And some singing.
It’s hard to believe this thing was ever made, because it’s not some B movie thing. It’s a high-budget picture with cinematographers and famous people in it. Must have been some really good drugs in the 1970s. And so, while it’s certainly not a good movie, it’s definitely an interesting failure.
Most awe-inspiring: Awe-inspiring? Geez, I don’t know. When Listz sprouts a giant penis for the four ladies to ride? When Richard Wagner sprouts vampire teeth and drinks Listz’s blood? The demon-worshiping scene with all the naked girls and the candles? So many options…
Most fun: The opening scene really is hoot. Liszt and the contessa’s fun romp to the ever-increasing beat of a metronome is rudely interrupted by her sword-bearing husband, leading to duel featuring chandelier-swinging, banana-eating, and a quickly improvised loin cloth made of sheets.
Most heartwarming: Well, the Chaplinesque scene where Liszt thinks back on his romance with the contessa actually is kind of sweet.
Most chilling: You know, when the dead Wagner rises as a zombie Hitler and starts mowing down the Jews—that really is kind of chilling. Especially as it’s intercut with Liszt being tortured, then killed, by his daughter, wielding voodoo pins on “tiny daddy” doll.