I was certainly one of the first - if not THE first - in Paris to buy a ticket for this show and it was right at the end of the year 2004 (the guy at the desk in the Virgin Megastore of the Champs-Elysées couldn't believe his ears when I asked him for a ticket)!
I was already happy not to wait too long for the show (just 3 months) but I was aware that the band would be in a warm-up phase and that they'd spare their energy for the rest of the tour. I was right.
On 30.03., I was standing in front of Le Zénith, with a friend of mine and her 15-year-old son: it was his first rock concert ever. Lucky guy... We heard the band doing the soundcheck, with bits of "I Want It All", "The Show Must Go On", "Fat Bottomed Girls". I already had more than an idea of what they were going to play: fans had showed me the Brixton setlist.
We almost had to fight to stand at a good place (7th row in the pit, just in front of the stage), because there was a very unpleasant rush after the gates were open. The entire Track 13-intro was a treat to me and most of the fans: some of them booed. Just imagine their reaction to Eminem's "Lose Yourself"... Nevertheless, I enjoyed every song of the show, from "Reaching Out" to "We Are The Champions". Paul was more than okay, and even great sometimes; Brian and Roger played his songs really well: all except "All Right Now" were downers for the crowd, but it was the rule of the game, of course. I found the setlist rather disappointing: only 5 Freddie numbers, almost all the rest for Brian, except Roger and Paul's songs. I couldn't help myself thinking that this tour shouldn't have been called "Queen + Paul Rodgers" but "Brian May Band feat. Roger Taylor + Paul Rodgers".
Roger hasn't aged very well, for me, like some kind of an English rock n'roll Marlon Brando, but his drumming was still correct and he sang really well on "I'm In Love With My Car", "These Are The Days Of Our Lives" and "Radio Ga-Ga". During this song, I saw one my neighbours (a teenager) in a curious state: his head was turned in the wrong direction and he stood completely still; I thought he was about to collapse, but his pals told me he was actually blind and he was concentrating on the music! I felt a little ashamed to have sung every song so loud, like many people around...
My personal highlights: "These Are The Days Of Our Lives", "Love Of My Life", "Lost Horizon" (what a surprize!), "The Show Must Go On", "We Are The Champions". But the story doesn't end here...
After the final "God Save The Queen" and the return of the lights, I said goodbye to my friend and her son - who had to go - and I waited a little. I didn't know why, but I knew I had something important to do, and it was NOW OR NEVER.
I went to the entry of the backstage area. I stood just behind a curtain. After two minutes of observation, I saw the security guy (who was 4 meters away) wasn't looking in my direction. I made one step forward and one second later, I was in the hall of the aftershow, with about 30 guests. I understood that some of them were allowed to go and meet the band in half an hour or so. I noticed most of these guests had passes, which wasn't my case, of course. Trying to be as discrete as possible but not too much, I chatted a little with some people of the record company. One of their colleagues came to give them their passes: there were 4 for 6 persons, including me. Fortunally, one of the guys declined and a very nice lady let me take the last pass.
Minutes later, I was in the real backstage area. Paul, smiling all around, went out very quickly with his girlfriend. Roger had just had a shower. I saw really closely how much he had got fat... Brian was the last to quit his dressing room. The guests were unknown to me, except for a rather famous French male model, whose name I just forgot. After a few minutes, I let my ticket sign by Roger, then Spike Edney (yes!) and finally by Brian. Brian is such a nice and sweet guy, no-one can imagine... I really had a wonderful moment speaking to him, hearing him answering to me with his soft voice and laughing when I told him I was surprized to see him without his famous clogs!
When I went out of Le Zénith, I saw many fans queuing up outside, near to the tour-bus, waiting for the band. When some of them saw my backstage pass, they looked rather envious.
On my way home, I remembered the teenager I was in 1990-91, when I first really got into Queen. If you had told me at this time that I would have seen a band called "Queen" live and that I would have met them and talked to them, I wouldn't have believed you a single second. But, eh, dreams are made to come true, aren't they?