Friday, April 14, 2023

Queen revisit stage wear on The Greatest Live series

As “Queen: The Greatest Live” continues its journey to explore what makes a Queen show the ultimate live experience, and having already studied the rehearsals, opening numbers and lighting, this week's episode turns its attention to Queen's memorable stage wear.

In new and exclusive interviews with Brian May and Roger Taylor, QTGL series creator and director Simon Lupton learns from them both the history behind some of the band's most iconic stage costumes, including the one that didn't quite measure up for Roger Taylor and Brian's initial reaction to Freddie's infamous red sequined shorts.

And it is unlikely to come as a surprise to learn which band member was the driving force behind many of the choices.

"The clothes are part of it, and no one was more aware of that than Freddie,” explains May. “Freddie really pioneered a lot of stuff and we came out of an era which was called glam, where people in rock groups realized that they could dress up and look fancy and make a big splash. But it was all very kind of random. And what we tried to do was, I guess, call on the traditions of opera and other art forms and make the costumes speak for us, make them part of the storytelling. So Freddie, with his little wings on his suits and all his of crowns and paraphernalia, also the black and white stuff, which we got into, and it's all designed to be dramatic. It's designed to accentuate our movements and accentuate the moods of the songs.

"We were lucky enough to work with some great designers. Zandra Rhodes was the first one we really worked with, and we had these very, very dramatic kind of pleated efforts and that was really helpful to us because it made us more aware of our physicality on stage, made us speak with our bodies as well as our hands and voices."

For Freddie it was an aspect of the live show that he revelled in, and he particularly enjoyed surprising his fellow band members, as much as he did the fans.

"Freddie, he didn't always tell us,” Taylor reveals. “I mean, when he first turned up in the ballet thing, I think he slightly looked like Kermit, and the ballet pumps as well. I mean, we were absolutely tickled. It could have gone the other way. You know, we could have gone 'don't be so ridiculous', but because it was Fred, It was 'yeah, come on. That's brilliant.' You know, why not?. "And if you've got the balls to get... and let's face it, we'll be able to see them, you can get away with that. Yeah, let's go. I mean, it was a great talking point. I remember several musicians faces, sort of jaws dropping in astonishment that this guy could come on, and they could play some serious rock n roll, you know?"

Ultimately, Queen's stage wear was not simply about being shocking or outrageous, but instead another well crafted, integral part of the overall audience experience.

"I think to make best use of yourself on stage, it is a whole-body thing and it becomes very instinctive, after a while,” May continues. “You're conscious about it for a while, the clothes and everything and the movements, but then it becomes part of what you are. And instinctively you do that and you instinctively know if you're wearing the wrong stuff, it just kind of feels wrong. And so you go in search of good stuff and we have some great people to interact with who will say, 'you've tried this?'. So, we're not kind of glam, but we are, I suppose.... Yeah, maybe we are glam, but mainly we're dramatic…that's the idea."

Pick up your copy of Queen’s “Greatest Hits” here.

See also:

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Queen and Adam Lambert expand North American Rhapsody tour
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Search Queen at hennemusic