At 6:00 pm on July 13, 1985, Queen was prepared to take the stage and play a 20 minuet long set at what many say was the most successful rock n’ roll show in history, Live Aid. More than 75 of the most popular acts in the world were booked to perform that day at London’s Wembley Stadium and Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium. Beyond the two packed houses, the concert was connected via satellite and broadcast on multiple television stations; Live Aid was viewed by over a billion people in 110 nations in the comfort of their own homes.
With artist such as Elton John, Madonna, Santana, Run DMC, The Beach Boys, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, U2, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney, and the reunions of Led Zeppelin and The Who, Queen was one of several highly anticipated performances for that day.
Brian May, John Deacon, Roger Taylor, and Freddie Mercury opened their set showcasing Mercury on the piano with an abbreviated version of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Despite what appeared to be an ocean of fans in the audience with 100% of their focus dialed in on him, Freddie Mercury’s voice was indisputably unshakable. Queen then seamlessly transitioned into “Radio GaGa” where Mercury’s aptitude for performing and his ability to connect with his audience became evident. He was able to lure 72,000 people into synchronized clapping, dancing, and singing. It is easy to witness even through the impersonal view of a computer screen the type of influence Freddie had on an audience. Queen continued to electrify Wembley Stadium with “Hammer to Fall” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” “We Will Rock You” and wrapped their set with “We Are The Champions.”
Without the help of special effects, fancy lighting, or flashy costumes, it was up to sheer talent to captivate the audience’s attention and deliver a memorable performance. Queen did just that. Despite the hype behind so many of the other artists and the reunion of two beloved groups, it is Queen’s performance that has stood the test of time. It is often seen as the best performance of that day and of Queen’s career. What some find most impressive about this moment is that it was straight-up, honest musical entertainment. No frills, no loud backup singers or electronic tracking. This was music that came from three or four instruments, one outstanding voice, and a whole lot of passion.
Greene, Andy. “Flashback: Queen Rock Live Aid.” Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone, 05 Feb. 2013. Web. 15 May 2017.
“Live Aid Concert.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 15 May 2017.
“Queen Biography.” Rolling Stone. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2017.