23 September, d-day! Finally after waiting 5 years I had the chance of seeing Brian again! Arriving around noon, we (me and my girlfriend Noortje) "barricaded" ourselves in front of the doors of "Vredenburg", a hall with a capacity of 2000 people in Utrecht, a large city in the middle of the Netherlands.
If you want to stand front row, then you have to be at the doors early! :-)
After waiting for 7 hours, chatting all the time with fans who arrived later, we went inside. I was never inside "Vredenburg" and didn't know what to expect,
We entered the building on street level, but when we entered the hall we had to go down about 10-15 meters by stairs! The floor of the hall was deep below, around it were stairs rising up to the roof, about 20 meters above us!
Very cozy, very impressive, the crowd was very near the stage this way!
No fence was placed in front of the stage so we fastly walked to the middle of the stage where a little small stage was placed in front of the large one.
We knew that Brian would be near us VERY closely, in fact, later on I was only an arm-lenght away from him at some times!!!
The placed filled slowly, and was packed later (sold out gig). The support act was a Dutch band from The Hague called "Billy the Kid". They started 20 mins early, at 19.55 and played 8 songs in 35 mins, ballads and rocky songs were played to entertains us, but we didn't enjoy it too much 'cause we waited patiently for our curly dude! :-)
After "Billy" we had to wait another 45 mins, then the lights went out, a curtain with the tree from the album cover of "Another World" came down, the paint was a special kind that gave light in the dark if a "black light" was on (makes white clothing pink in disco's). As a tribute to Cozy Powell, "Dance with the Devil" was played from tape.
Then the music of "only make believe" started, a hand with a microphone appeared from behind a black panel, then Brian came on stage, dressed as "Twitty Conway" (a pastiche/homage to Conway Twitty, who is a 50s American singer).
After the song and a bit of chatting "Twitty" started dancing to an instrumental version of "Slow Down". He walked behind the panel and got a towel... (THIS IS THE SWITCHING PART!)
Brian is switched for a "Twitty" look-a-like, lights start to flash so you can't see his face clearly, and the "doppelganger" hides his face behind the towel and his hands. After a bit of dancing (all in front of the painted tree) he stands with his back to the audience, a tape starts to play and it seems that he speaks with brian's voice. He announces Brian May who suddenly appears to the right of the stage, right from the tree, but behind the curtain on stairs doing the pose of the album cover, live on stage!!
He starts to sing the "SPACE" intro and then hits a cord on his guitar....the crowd starts to scream (but already shouted out Brians name as he came on stage the first time, everyone of course recognised him being "twitty", well, at least those at the front! :-) )
Then the bands starts to play "Since you've been gone", the curtain rises, the crowd starts to scream,dance,wave hands, Brian comes from the stairs to the front of the stage and the place starts rockin'!!!!!!!!!!
Brian played as if our curly friend performed only yesterday, it's been 5 years though since his last tour! The new background singers looked gorgeous, but Cathy and Shelly from the first tour in 1993 seemed to have more fun then, these 2 gave me the feeling that they were just assets to the band as their equipment is... Maybe that will change later in the tour.
Brian was (as heard later on) quite nervous during the first Dutch gig, although he was very funny, making many jokes, chatting with the audience and looking relaxed, he still seemed to have the idea that he had to perform the best way he could. that maybe has to do with the fact that the Dutch audience is VERY participating (singing along and cheering extensively) and also critical (especially the very devoted Queen/Brian fans). Well, as we all know, Brian always tries to do things the best way he can, but this time maybe even a little more!
The gig was just great, Brian played not just songs from his 2 albums, but also "since you've been gone", obviously to remember Cozy Powell. And also a lot of Queen songs.
Eric Singer, the new drummer showed that he has a lot of skill. He did a great solo during "resurrection" during which he got other drumsticks which were on fire!!!! He even played with them on the drums and was drumming so fast that the fire on the sticks was gone because he moved so fast!
At the end of the show he threw a drumstick to me, it bounced out of my hand and he was so nice to pick it up, walk to me and give it to me personally! He looks very sympathetic and seems to be a nice guy.
Neil Murray showed what you can do with a bass-guitar, distortion and synthersizer like sounds came out of his intrument and I was very surprised that something like that can be done with a Bass!
Jamie Moses and Spike Edney played also as if they'd never been away, Spike also performed a solo on his hammond organ which is the same as he used during the 1993 BTTL tour.
The light show was smaller is in 1993, Brian plays small venues this time, so everything was a bit smaller. On the right of the stage lights were placed in the shape of a sun, surrounding the sun were other lights like beams, 1 row on the right, 3 on the left.
As usual Brian used 9 AC30 VOX amplifiers which were build on stage like a big wall, very impressive! 2 Stage strucks are used to move the equipment around for the tour. On some if the cases the word "queen" is printed, indicating that he still uses stuff from the old days.
As said before , the Dutch people were singing along a lot, my voice is quite broken! Because Brian also did a gig 1 day later in Groningen (North of the Netherlands), I had to sing my heart out 2 days in a row, which is not very good for my voice which is still broken! (this is written the day after the 2nd gig).
Of course "Love of my Life" was THE song to sing along, so 2000 people sang so loud that Brian was quiet for quite a while after he finished the song to gain his emotions, he seemed very impressed and touched by our participation!
Because we were so close to the stage and also because a small stage was put in front of the big one in the middle, Brian came VERY close to us. We could actually touch him! It was as he was standing in the middle of the crowd. MAGIC!
All in all I enjoyed the show very much, Brian played 15 mins longer than in 1993, this time 2 hours long, which I like very much because a 90 mins show is over much too soon! even 1hr and 45 mins! :-)
After getting home I tried to gain some energy for the following day, when another gig was planned, this time in the north of the netherlands...