Today we finally saw “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the film about Freddie Mercury and the origin and subsequent climb of the band Queen.
The part I was most looking forward to in the movie was the end, because the filmmakers recreated Queen’s iconic performance at Live Aid, the epic 1985 concert that was held at both Wembley Stadium in London and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia to raise money for the relief of Ethiopian famine. I thought it would be cool to see it “again.”
In fact, it was incredible and I cried from the time Freddie (played by Rami Malek) took the stage at Wembley until the very end of the movie.
Back in July of 1985 I was 16 years old. I was not only in the thick of my teen years but I was also living during the golden age of MTV. When my friends and I heard about Live Aid, we couldn’t have been more excited: we were going to have the opportunity to see almost all of our favorite music acts perform live, all in one day.
I made sure my boss didn’t schedule me to work on Saturday, July 13. That morning I set up camp in our family room with plans to be in it for the long haul. I vividly remember only leaving the room for split-second bathroom breaks and snack grabs, and talking in the phone with friends throughout the day but only for a minute each time so we didn’t miss a thing. Back then there was no ability to pause live tv; if you missed something, you couldn’t rewind unless you recorded it and you still had to go back later.
I am a much bigger fan of Queen as a fifty year old than I was at 16, but even back then I knew an iconic performance when I saw one. Freddie Mercury was a force to be reckoned with. Seeing a recreation of that in the film today took me back instantly and, as a middle aged woman who has, so far, lived for 5 years longer than Freddie did, I was more saddened by the loss of him today than I ever could have been when he actually died in 1991. I imagine this is probably because life experience, thoughts about my own mortality, and the importance of truly living life while we can (something Freddie made sure to stress to his band mates) came into play, three things a 16-year-old couldn’t and wouldn’t have thought about.
Leaving the theater, I thought about how I still have 6 hours of my favorite Live Aid acts—like Adam Ant, Duran Duran, Paul Young, Madonna, David Bowie, Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, and others—on a VHS tape but nothing on which to play it. I decided that I immediately needed to see if I could find a DVD set to purchase. I pulled up my Amazon app before we even reached the car and was disappointed to discover that a set would cost hundreds of dollars. I could find a VHS player for much less money.
i guess some things are meant to remain in our memory banks; rewatching Live Aid in its entirety would be extremely nostalgic but not nearly the same experience as it was thirty-three years ago.
For the time being I’ll have to settle for snippets on YouTube and be thankful for the miracle of modern technology.