Friday, 17 June 2011

Queen: Days Of Our Lives BBC HD

I fully intended to only watch part one last night, but I was so engrossed that I ended up going to bed late having watched both parts, back to back.

It was a very moving documentary, tracing the band's history from the early days of Brian May and Roger Taylor's group Smile, through to the live shows featuring Paul Rodgers.

Queen were never really cool, and they happily admit this, but they built up a dedicated following from their early days in the 1970s, which seemed to spur the music press on to criticise them even more. One of the things that most people would agree on, even if they weren't particularly fans, was the band's (and particularly Freddie Mercury's) ability to get the crowd involved at their live gigs.

The interaction between the band and their fans was Queen's attempt to create a unique show while touring the United States, which, considering the number of high profile rock bands touring the U.S.A. at the time was a shrewd move. And because of the need to play huge stadiums the band wanted to try and retain the connection with the audience that they developed when playing to crowds in smaller venues.

Unlike a lot of similar documentaries the programme makers weren't afraid to address some of the groups low moments, including albums that didn't quite hit the mark, and most notably, the bands decision to play Sun City in South Africa during the reign of the apartheid regime in the 1980s, which the surviving members agreed had been done with good intentions at the time, but in retrospect had been a huge mistake.

The final section covered the demise of Freddie Mercury, who in the archive interview footage comes across as a very charismatic and intelligent person. Seeing the remaining band members talking about the dawning realisation that something was very wrong, and hearing them tell of Freddie's initial reticence to tell his fellow bandmates about his illness was very moving.

I would like to think that in this day and age, that the stigma attached to HIV and AIDS in the 1980's is a distant memory, but for Freddie back then, it must have been terrifying. I can't imagine how distressing it must have been trying to come to terms with having a terminal disease without the added pressure of the paparazzi scum loitering in the streets hoping to get a picture of you looking ill.

I was never a huge fan, but every now and then they would come along with a song that would really leave an impression on me, and I think that's why their music has endured for so long.

Poignant, entertaining viewing.

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