Wednesday afternoon seemed to be getting a bit too chilly, and it was a lucky thing that I had put on a jumper. I had grabbed on to the Brian May tickets for 25 days, and today was when they were finally gonna do something for me. Arriving at the Capitol Theatre at around 7:30 pm, I noticed a swarm of people around the joint. Already you could feel the anticipation. This swarm of people weren't waiting for just any rock singer; they were waiting for the guy that wrote "We Will Rock You". As I crossed the road to enter the theatre, people were busy engrossed in Brian-related conversation, observing the Brian posters or pre-occupied in their Brian tour programs. The thing that hit me was that I never realised that Queen or Brian had so many fans left in this town. Mostly middle-aged folks, I could quite easily say I was the youngest there, at 17. I enter the venue and grab a program, after what seemed forever, waiting in the cue for Brian merchandise, which seemed to be selling like hot cakes. Autographed CDs, programs, T-shirts, singles and watches were being distributed quicker than Brian's negative response to cutting his hair. Peering into the doors of the stage, I could see the stage with all equipment set, ready to rock. What amazed me was even the last rows ensured that you got a good view of the show. Unfortunately, after enquiring with the door guys, Brian's concert hadn't completely sold out. About 1200 people had turned up, 800 short of a capacity audience.
The venue itself was stunning, featuring a ceiling that appeared to have stars (something Brian wouldn't take time on complimenting...).
We located our seats which were pretty good, pretty close up. The music they played was by some alternative-styled band, which I think was the album of the support act. Came 8:00, and the support band themselves stumbled on stage, obviously under the influence of a certain weed. A rather talented quartet, I still couldn't distinguish from each other the five or six tracks that they had managed to perform to a close-to-lifeless audience. By the time the Utopian Babies had finished their set, people had found the content of their Brian programs more interesting, and indeed people were still piling in through the doors, anonymous to the fact that a live band was in the middle of a set...
Anyway, they played then they were off. The crew came and got rid of their equipment while a bunch of Mott The Hoople tracks played through the PA system. A backdrop then cascaded down, a massive piece of black material featuring a painting of the tree featured on the cover of AW.
The lights faded to pitch blackness...
People began to cheer, although nothing was visible yet. A voice through the loudspeaker announced that Brian and the boys were still "taking showers", and that Brian's cousin T.E. was to sing a little song while we were waiting. A spotlight shines on the stage, focusing on an Elvis-styled-clad performer, singing a 50s ballad called "Only Make Believe" - a tiny amount of the audience actually knew that this was Brian himself...
T.E. leaves the stage and the lights once again dim to total blackness. The audience cheer like crazy as Brian's silhouette seems to materialise from nowhere. Posing like he is on the AW cover, he sings "Space", straightens up, the lights come on and the response is literally deafening!
"Good Evening Sydney!" yells Brian, wearing a yellow singlet with white jeans.
"It's been a while! About 35 years or so..."
His absence from this country sure made the hearts of us fans grow fonder, and we seldom let him continue his small talk as we were cheering and whistling.
The band leap into song, into "Since You Been Gone" to be more precise. Brian made it clear that it was dedicated to the one and only Cozy Powell. A stunning rendition of "China Bell" follows. The band are in excellent form, and are tightly knitted together. Eric Singer is perhaps one of the greatest drummers I have ever seen, and his casual and "isn't-really-hard-to-play-drums" style of playing sure blew everyone away. Brian's voice is in top shape as well.
"Okay, let's move away from China, will we?" exclaims Brian. "Let's take a journey into the past". At once, the audience go crazy, realising that Queen material will follow.
"I'll give you two options, folks" continues Brian. "You can just sit in your seats, or you can jump around and go crazy". People immediately run into the aisles down by the stage and remain there for the remainder of the evening. The introductory vocals of "Fat Bottom Girls" fill the venue and so proceeds a Queen medley, featuring "I Want It All", "Headlong", "Tear It Up", and "The Show Must Go On".
"Ladies and Gentlemen, the one and only Neil Murray". Neil commences an extraordinary bass solo, at times making the audience re-think whether he was playing a bass or a six-stringer...
Brian then introduces the acoustic section of the set.
"This is known as an acoustic guitar", he smirks, as he holds up a weird-looking object with six strings. He further explains to us that he bought it that very day in a shop in Sydney, and that he tried to hustle the dealer, but ended up purchasing it for $50. He then continues that it didn't make the noises he wanted it to make, instead making other "terrible sounds". He then manages to play this acoustic guitar in a style that made everybody think he was playing an electric guitar. Deceiving stuff...
He plucks the intro to "Love Of My Life", and is obviously very moved when the audience drown out his own vocal. "Too Much Love Will Kill You" follows and so does "Driven By You", and an exceptionally upbeat version of "On My Way Up".
Brian is obviously very talkative tonight.
"Did I introduce you to my choir?" he asks. "Well, they're not exactly a choir. A real choir is too damn expensive!" He introduces Suzie, Zoe and Jamie, and claims that the former two make him feel "bjorn again".
"'39" begins which then somehow seuges into a ballad-like version of "Hammer To Fall", which finally ends in a frantic frenzy.
The lights dim and Brian begins a solo. The noises this man can make from a guitar is quite simply astounding. You'd think there was a lion's den backstage! Featuring rifs from "Brighton Rock" and "Chinese Torture", he also ingeniously manages to incorporate two Australian folk songs called "Waltzing Matilda" and "I Still Call Australia Home", to stunning response.
Eric soon joins Brian, and Brian finishes, leaving Eric to display his circus-like methods of drumming. Taking advantage of two bass drums, he manages to whip up a wicked drum solo. His speed and acuracy is almost un-humanlike. A highlight of the evening is when he lit his sticks on fire while the lights when out and proceeded to play. Just watching those two fireballs flicker in the darkness was worth my $57.50 ticket price.
The band leap back on stage and burst into a pounding version of "We Will Rock You". Brian tears the place apart with "Tie Your Mother Down", getting the people dancing the aisles. Brian says good night and leaves the stage. The show's over.
"Brian, Brian, Brian, Brian, Brian, Brian.." shout the yet-to-be-satisfied crowd. After a minute or two, Brian re-appears and sings a version of "Another World" that is almost note-for-note identical to the album version. They finish off with a blistering rendition of "All The Way From Memphis" and the band leave for good.It's game over.
"We'll be back... God willing"...