Friday, August 4, 2023

Queen rock classic show tune Big Spender on The Greatest Live

Queen rock the classic show tune, “Big Spender”, on the latest episode of the weekly series The Greatest Live.

Written for the 1966 Broadway musical Sweet Charity and originally recorded by Peggy Lee, the song and style was part of the mix of influences in Freddie Mercury’s background although, as the episode’s synopsis indicates, “it’s more likely the song reached Mercury via the definitive rendition by legendary Welsh singer Dame Shirley Bassey, the three-time James Bond soundtrack theme song provider.”

“Sneaking my cabaret influences into our act was done slowly,” Freddie told Hit Parader in 1977. “Could you imagine me doing ‘Big Spender’ when we were first starting? As a rock band? They'd freak. Now we do more a combination of rock ‘n’ roll and theatre.”

Having made that leap of faith, Queen never looked back.

This week’s archive footage mixes video of “Big Spender” from two of the band’s most famous concerts: it opens with footage from Hammersmith Odeon on Christmas Eve 1975, where the band teased the sell-out crowd – and the BBC audience watching at home – by walking offstage after the frenzied finale of “In The Lap Of The Gods”, and with the atmosphere at fever pitch, the band returned to encore with “Big Spender.”

With Roger Taylor pounding his toms in a multi-colored clown wig, Brian May reimagining the classic brass motif as an anvil-heavy slide guitar riff, and Freddie playing provocatively with the cord of his kimono – before dropping the garment entirely – it's a bravura performance topped only by the band’s showstopping reprise, eleven years later, at Wembley Stadium in 1986.

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

See also:

Queen and Adam Lambert add Japanese dates to Rhapsody tour
Queen tribute Little Richard on The Greatest Live
Queen revisit surprise cover songs on The Greatest Live
Queen guitarist Brian May streams Star Fleet video
Search Queen at hennemusic