On an average night, they tore the roof off the venue, and on a good night they saved every soul in the building. Queen with Freddie Mercury is one of the best live performances anyone could have seen throughout the ’70s and ’80s. John Deacon’s hard-thumping bass punches, Roger Taylor’s wildly melodic percussion buffets of perfection, Brian May’s salute to Rock n’ Roll guitar riffs, and of course, Freddie Mercury’s otherworldly vocal skills combined with his piano notes and frontman charisma conjure up the best in the music business. All of these elements were on display at the two-night concert extravaganza in November that took place at the Montreal Forum in Quebec. The result is a mix of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey and the greatest rock n’ roll show ever performed titled Queen Rock Montreal.
Those who didn’t have the pleasure of seeing Mercury perform live are in for a treat with this new IMAX 4K presentation of Queen Rock Montreal because it might be the closest anyone will get again to seeing the pure genius of four musicians who are so in sync with their music and crowd, that it feels like a different planet of music for two hours. Director Saul Swimmer is no stranger to concert films either as he showcased his talents for capturing the magic and music in Concert For Bangladesh with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, and more. The Concert For Bangladesh was to not only entertain the fans with music but also to bring awareness and funds to the refugees of Bangladesh. Queen Rock Montreal, it’s simply a rock n’ roll show that takes its audience on a spiritual, sexual, and punk rock journey.
Until now, nobody has seen this concert in full on the big screen. Its release on home video over the years has kept the momentum and magic at bay on smaller screens, but with IMAX and Queen forming a relationship, it’s like being front and center at a live show, complete with all of the amazing lighting rigs, rumbling bass notes, and soothing vocals of Mercury. There’s no question that Freddie is the greatest frontman ever to live. His high energy of dancing and getting everybody in the crowd to participate is uncanny. His air guitar skills make everyone want to follow suit throughout the show. Over the past couple of decades, musicians have weaved in some impressive and gaudy wardrobe choices to shock their audiences or gain attention. Queen was so talented on every level, that they never needed to bother with any costumes.
In Queen Rock Montreal, Mercury comes out with a Superman muscle shirt, white jeans, and a black leather jacket. It’s simple and satisfying as his vocal chords and energy do the work. And instead of a wardrobe change like so many people do now, Freddie strips off his clothes until he’s in dolphin shorts and a red bandana only. This is pure rock n’ roll. In between the famous, iconic tunes of Queen, the light show overhead simulates a Space Odyssey of sorts as if a spaceship has landed on stage and these rock gods have entered the arena to play a show for us, mere humans. The sounds May elicits from his guitars during these amazing moments are exquisite and remind everyone they are being born into a new rock n’ roll world like the star child in 2001. Even Roger Taylor’s timpani solo midway through knocks everyone’s socks off.
And if there was ever a rock ‘n roll orgasm that climaxed with thousands of people simultaneously, it would be the moment when the heavy rock guitars come in during the final chapter of Bohemian Rhapsody. The way Queen sold that moment on stage still brought the audience to their feet in the IMAX theatre some forty years later. And that is exactly how one becomes immortal. Nobody today can produce that amount of happiness or raw musical energy as Queen and their fanbase did during their shows, especially during these two memorable Montreal concerts. This amazing concert film is only in IMAX theaters for a short time and it would be completely rock n’ roll to take friends and family and enjoy the masterpiece that is Queen live on stage in such a wonderful format—highest Recommendation.