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Reviews > Queen Concert Reviews > 09-08-1984 - The Times - Wembley Arena


Body but no soul
by Max Bell


Queen took to the stage before a backdrop which borrowed liberally from Fritz Lang's Metropolis. As giant cog-wheels whirred, a dehumanized city-scape was revealed by a bank of lights generating enough wattage to trip the entire CEGB. The crowd roared. It was a huge conceit; but such conceits are what characterize Queen.

Since the demise of Led Zeppelin, and the pensioning off of The Who and their like, there are few bands left playing for the grand stakes. Queen's set, like the Stones', is almost entirely comprised of greatest hits which they perform with an arrogance born out of world wide success and at a volume that makes most normal though impossible.

The band are not without saving graces; the ludicrous spectacle of the singer Freddie Mercury being most of them. A master of the unsubtle art of crowd-coaxing, Mercury parodies himself with a vengeance.

Mercury's high camp persona recalls that Queen started out in the early Seventies as a glorified glam-rock outfit; that they have outlasted Bowie's Ziggy Stardust and the theatrical Roxy is testimony to their fans conservatism.

Instrumentally the persistent rhythmic throb of John Deacon and Roger Taylor is rent asunder by the guitarist Brian May's heroics, yet one's gaze always finish on Mercury. Whether torch-singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" from the piano, like the hideously fit Liberace, or donning his Coronation Street drag for "I Want to Break Free", the assembled at from his outstretched palms.

After a while Queen become victims of Mercury's shameless profile. This is pop with no body and soul. They do "Under Pressure" and "Jailhouse Rock" to death, closing with their own version of the National Anthem, hams to the last. Amusing without being provocative, Queen know that to maintain this level of rock stardom it is necessary to employ a sledgehammer to crack a walnut.