Monday, 20 April 2015

The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.

At 5.55pm on the 20th April 1992 I was being dragged through a crowd of 72,000 people in Wembley Stadium to stand 6 rows back from the barrier at my first ever concert.

That concert was the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert - The Concert for AIDS Awareness.

Freddie died on the 24th November 1991 from bronchopneumonia brought on by AIDS.  At the BRIT Awards in February of the following year, Brian May and Roger Taylor announced a concert to remember him, the proceeds from the concert would fund the launch of The Mercury Phoenix Trust AIDS charity organisation.

When the tickets finally went on sale, they sold out in less than 3 hours despite no-one knowing who was to be performing, other than the 3 remaining members of Queen.

Our day started at 9am when we drove down to London in a rented minibus.  The rules of the rental contract stated no smoking in the vehicle, and there were stickers everywhere reinforcing this rule.  However rules are meant to be broken, and the cigarette burn caused by a particularly rousing rendition of We Will Rock You was quickly covered up.  With a no smoking sticker.

We arrived just after 11am and joined the queue to park.  A quick trip to the toilets, quicker for the men than the women, as it is everywhere, and we joined the throng outside the stadium.

The sun was beating down, I got quite a sunburn, and the atmosphere was fantastic.  Because of the sheer number of people, there were plenty of Police in evidence but they spent the time wandering round, talking to people. asking where they had come from, how long had they liked Queen, and seemed to be having as good a time as the concert goers.

I arrived back into work the next day to be informed that I had been seen on MTV.  Back in the day if you had been on MTV, you had made it!

Over the entrances, there was a ticker feed ' smoking......'.  I was seeing that in my dreams for days afterwards.

At 4pm we were allowed into the stadium, we were asked to sit down as it was still two more hours to wait.

We were near the back due to the number of entrances being used.

Just before 6pm, we were told to stand up, as a huge cheer went round the stadium, one of the friends I was with just grabbed my hand and ran.  We ended up near the front, leaving the rest of our party near the back, we were not military, so 'leave no man behind' was not relevant.  They had an inflatable pink pig, so if anyone saw that being waved, that was my friends.  

Metallica were first to perform with Enter Sandman and ever since, that is the song to take me back to that fantastic day more than any other.  The only other song that comes close is Def Leppard's Let's Get Rocked.  For some reason Queen's own songs just don't do it, but that is maybe due to all the Conventions I have attended!

As the evening went on, the atmosphere just got more and more charged, more and more fantastic.  Everyone was singing and laughing and hugging each other.

Elizabeth Taylor was there.

Liza Minelli was there.

The only slightly weird moment, was David Bowie reciting the Lord's Prayer.  Not that the Lord's Prayer is weird, it's not, it just wasn't in keeping with the mood of the evening and made everyone slightly uncomfortable.

Yes, that is Baron Haden-Guest, otherwise known as Mr Jamie Lee Curtis performing with Principal Skinner.

The only other less interesting bit for me was Extreme.  I have never really been a fan of Extreme so consequently their set seemed to go on for hours.  But that's just my opinion.

I think the concert finished at around 11pm and we all trudged back to the minibus, elated and exhausted.  Unfortunately as we had all been parked nose-to-tail, we couldn't leave until the people in front had moved and they took an age getting back.

It was the most fantastic day I have ever experienced, nothing else has ever come close.  The Live 8 concert I attended in 2005 didn't compare, partly due to the dire organisation and despite arriving 4 hours before the concert, still managing to miss Paul McCartney.

I don't think we will ever see anything like this again.

And I don't think we should.

Were you there?  What did you think?

1 comment: