Festival season has long come to a close, but the lengthy build up to next year’s festivities has started, with a few of the first headliners being announced months in advance in an attempt to stimulate early ticket sales. We’ve got The Stone Roses playing Scotland’s T in the Park, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath playing prestigious hard rock festival Download and now most recently Queen playing The Isle of Wight Festival. The nation’s oldest festival, being headlined by potentially one of the Nation’s favorite and most iconic bands, a perfect match… maybe if the year was 1985!
Still somehow in 2015, Queen continue to perform live, something that many a music fan would argue should be made illegal following the death of iconic, and possibly all time greatest frontman Freddie Mercury in 1991, 25 years prior to their upcoming headline performance at the Festival. It’s not even just a matter of finding a new singer, as talented as Freddie, the band are also still soldiering on without bassist John Deacon (who retired not long after Mercury’s death), writer of many of Queen’s classic tracks, including ‘Another One Bites the Dust’. Only Brian May, famed more recently for his work in protecting badgers, and drummer Rodger Taylor remain from the original four piece that took the musical world by storm in the 70s and 80s.
One of my greatest bugbears of this latest run of reunion shows from Queen, is the band’s decision, in 2011, to replace Freddie, one of the most naturally gifted performers and singers of a generation, with American Idol runner up (he couldn’t even win the show) Adam Lambert. It’s really quite baffling and deeply saddening, that the only person the band could find to continue in the footsteps of the late, great Freddie Mercury is a person who has found fame through a vacuous TV talent show, missing out all the steps of actually grafting his way to the top. Where’s the true rock’n’roll spirit in that?
As the latest incarnation of Queen continue to bulldoze through everything they have ever created and built up over the years, it is important to remember everything that made Queen that great rock band in the first place. When I was younger, I was well versed on the legacy of Queen by my Dad, with their music proving to be somewhat of a gateway into the guitar-oriented music I listen to now. The legacy of Queen is engrained within the popular culture of Britain, particularly in it’s rock music scene. There are very few bands in music that have a such an arsenal of iconic hits, which has resulted in their enduring popularity and part of the reason the band managed to get their own musical that toured across the globe many years after their prime! In their day, Queen were a highly progressive act, almost everything they did was welcomed with open arms both critically and commercially, whether it was the genre defying classic that is ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (of which celebrates it’s 40th anniversary this year), simple, yet hard rocking ‘We Will Rock You’ or the more experimental disco-tinged album, ‘Hot Space’, which spawned a huge hit in the form of ‘Under Pressure’, a collaboration with the infamous David Bowie.
I’d hate to see the remaining members of Queen drag the legacy of one of the nation’s greatest musical exports through the mud
It’s also hard to knock their live music credentials, in their heyday, they were one of the most loved acts around, with shows like their residence at Wembley Stadium and their show stealing Live Aid performance, going down in rock music folklore, but can they still cut it in 2016, two members down, fronted by a reality popstar and substantially older? I doubt it. At least not in a way that serves Queen’s high standard for live performance any justice!
Understandably there’s still demand there, I mean this is a band that have sold around 300 million records around the world, but will it be anywhere near the same? One of the worst things for me when so many bands come back for reunion tours like this, is that all this vanity parade really does is detract from a new younger band, hitting their peak that does not have the opportunity to headline a major festival like Isle of Wight. Think of the likes of Foals, Jamie T or The Maccabees, all of whom have released recent albums to a good level of critical and commercial success and are sitting waiting in the wings whilst bands like Queen, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and The Stone Roses are all still playing the major festivals across the UK. Some may argue that it’s because these are still the bands people want to see and think are still the best at what they do, but how can we possibly tell when others aren’t given their rightful chance? In fairness, sometimes such reunion shows can be successes, but unlike many of these other bands, Queen are lacking the vital components of their original bassist and one of the greatest entertainers and singers of all time.
Queen’s headline slot at next year’s Isle of Wight Festival is sure to be just one of the many reunion shows, likely to pollute 2016’s music calendar. Personally I think Rodger Taylor and Brian May should stick to making cameos at other band’s concerts as they have been doing, appearing at the shows of Foo Fighters, Royal Blood and My Chemical Romance in the past. However, it gets to a point where you begin to start flogging a dead horse and as a music fan, I’d hate to see the remaining members of Queen drag the legacy of one of the nation’s greatest musical exports through the mud! I doubt Freddie would approve.
Student weekend tickets for Isle of Wight Festival start from £175, and can be purchased here.