WOLVERHAMTON, England — Former Queen drummer Roger Taylor made
a promise Tuesday night that spawned a regular glam-rock revival,
featuring half of the pioneering British band playing together again
“We’ve got a great show for you tonight. We’ve got some surprises.” So
said Taylor, as he took the stage at Wolverhampton’s Wulfrun Hall in
England that evening.
And Taylor wasn’t kidding. By the end of the night, he would introduce
his old friend and bandmate Brian May, the guitarist with whom he
started the pomp-rock group more than a quarter-century ago. The
platinum-selling band built a reputation on a glamorous hard rock
combined with intricate vocal harmonies; it produced such classic albums
as A Night at the Opera.
Taylor, who used to keep the beat for the late, lamented glam-rock band
extraordinaire, Queen, is not likely to do things by half, even if his
hair shows a little gray. So, the crowd listened as his promise echoed
through the hall, flicked back their unisex-cut, shoulder-length hair
and waited patiently for whatever surprises their idol should see fit
“I was at Queen’s last-ever concert,” said Dave, 45, from Wolverhampton,
who did not want to give his last name. “Of course that was nearly 20
years ago now, and back then we were so broke we could only afford one ticket.”
“Yeah, so I had to wait outside,” chipped in Rhiannon, his wife, also 45.
“How dedicated of me. You should be so grateful.”
“I am, but you know, it was 20 years ago …” her husband said.
So went the marital bickering of two seasoned Queen devotées, who
had come more out of respect for the pioneering glam-rock outfit than
because of their devotion to Taylor, who released his first solo album,
Fun in Space, in 1981. Taylor was performing in support of his
new album, Electric Fire. And his recent releases, including the
subdued ballads “Believe in Yourself” and “Tonight,” seemed, in the
crowd’s eyes at least, totally eclipsed by the feel-good rock of Queen’s
Queen split up in 1991, following the death of their flamboyant frontman
Freddie Mercury. They have served as inspiration for the resurgence of
glam rock in the late ’90s.
Aging Queen fans may be bogged down with mortgages and offspring these
days, but the show seemed to restore their youthful enthusiasm to rock.
And roll, scream, chant or headbang. Everything else seemed insignificant
beside the thumping beat of “We Will Rock You,” the classic tune that
prepped the crowd for Taylor’s entrance.
It didn’t take much. All hands were clapping in the air along with the
rhythm, all mouths singing along. Get ready to return to the ’70s was
As a member of Queen, Taylor penned such classics as “A Kind of Magic”
and “Radio Ga Ga”
(RealAudio excerpt) — both of which he managed to fit into the evening’s
setlist. But he left his usual spot at the drum kit, and took center
stage to sing and tap the tambourine, returning to the drums only to
duel with his backing drummer. In the spotlight, his every gesture and
eye movement incited huge cheers from the crowd.
But the real screams came when Taylor unveiled his surprise, on the
second encore of the night. “Ladies and gentlemen, joining us tonight is
Sir Brian May!”
Silhouetted against white light and smoke, May, Queen’s lead guitarist
and the force behind much of their heavy-rock sound, strutted onstage to
thunderous applause and foot-stamping, his distinctive hair and profile
unchanged since the band’s heyday.
Through the maze of waving hands, he grabbed a guitar, played a few
chords to warm up and then launched with Taylor into a stomping rendition
of Slade’s “Rock and Roll Bolero.”
They followed that with “Under Pressure”
(RealAudio excerpt), Queen’s U.K. #1 hit with David
Bowie in 1981, which Taylor helped write. Even the supporting act took
to the stage to rock along, singing Freddie Mercury’s lead vocal line.
This was one concert nobody wanted to walk away from. The room was filled
with the nostalgia of such tracks as “These are the Days,” and amazement
at the appearance of May. The audience was hooked on the spectacle of
seeing onstage, together, half the band that had been Queen.
But when the last strains of “Radio Ga Ga” died away, and the band left
the stage for the third time that night, Taylor slipped forward to the
mic and said: “Thanks for coming. Let’s do this again.”
It’s not likely these fans will decline the invitation.