Friday, June 23, 2023

Queen reimagine We Will Rock You on The Greatest Live

Queen explore how they reimagined their 1977 classic, “We Will Rock You”, for the concert stage on the latest episode of the weekly series The Greatest Live.

Few songs have remained at the heart of popular culture like the opening track from “News Of The World.” When Brian May presented the song to the band, they recorded the original studio version without drums, with all four members instead supplying foot stamps and handclaps.

“I wasn’t sure if it was going to sound like a proper song,” May told Guitar World. “But as soon as I heard Freddie singing it, I started to be more confident, because he sounded like a kind of rabble-rouser.”

Played live on that year’s News Of The World tour, and rapidly earning its enduring status as a must-play setlist highlight (usually followed by “We Are The Champions”), “We Will Rock You” has shed its skin countless times. In last week’s episode of Queen The Greatest Live, Brian explained how the Queen crowd claimed ownership of the song’s addictive beat (“It's become a drum extravaganza… the audience sing it and the physicality is there”).

Now, rare archive footage reveals how the band reimagined “We Will Rock You” through the eras, toying with tempo, instrumentation and many other variables. Opening with the famous show at Budapest’s Népstadion on 27 July 1986, we watch the performance that cleaves closest to the studio original, with Roger Taylor driving the iconic rhythm at a leisurely pace on his floor toms and snare.

But a speedier version of “We Will Rock You” always existed in parallel, and the song becomes a very different beast at a 1977 show in Houston, as Brian attacks his Red Special guitar with an almost punky aggression while a leather-jacketed Freddie shoots his vocal from the lip. The song flexes its muscles once again at Queen’s fabled 1982 show at the Milton Keynes Bowl, while the band’s four-way vocal harmonies seemed more prominent than ever when they chose “We Will Rock You” as the opener at Montreal’s Forum in November 1981.

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

See also:

Queen’s Brian May reveals origins of Star Fleet Project ahead of 40th anniversary reissue
Queen adapt songs for the concert stage on The Greatest Live
Queen’s Brian May announces expanded Star Fleet Project reissue ft. Eddie Van Halen
Queen revisit intimate 1986 Wembley performance on The Greatest Live
Search Queen at hennemusic