Monday, 9 August 2010

August 9th Memories.

August the 9th.
I was there.

I didn't quite realise it at the time but it was going to be one of those events where people who missed out, would tell me how lucky I was for years to come.

Queen had played at Live Aid the previous summer and had blown the rest of the acts off stage.
Their stock rose immeasurably.
 Even people like me, rushed off to purchase Queen's Greatest Hits, (on cassette!) and Freddie Mercury became recognisable to everyone from grannies to school kids.

When Queen announced a 'Magic' tour, the tickets were snapped up all over Europe.
I tried in vain to get a ticket for one of the Wembley Stadium appearances.

Queen were playing with Status Quo.

"It should be a good game", my dad guffawed.

Despite some of my so called 'mates' going as a group to Wembley, I stayed at my Saturday job at Woolworth selling records and tapes from the 'Music Bar'.

I've lost the connection through the mists of time of how I ended up getting a ticket for the last show of the tour at Knebworth.
I do know that I travelled up to Stevenage with two pals called Harry and Tim who I'd known from secondary school and were now at the same college as me, doing 'A' levels.

We exited Stevenage railway station and attempted to push our way onto a bus with the handwritten cardboard sign on the front reading 'Pop Concert'.

I remember feeling decidedly ill at ease.
All around us were big, hairy, leather clad greasers who were looking on with amusement at our trio of suburban soul boys.
I remember feeling very conscious of my rather clean looking Diadora 'Borg' tennis shoes and my Kappa  polo shirt. We'd dressed for the weather, (it was due to be a scorcher), and heavy denim or leather seemed a bit pointless to me.

After moving about half a mile in 10 minutes, we jumped off the bus and followed the crowds towards Knebworth on foot.

There were huge bins by the gates, where people were having to lob their mostly still full beer cans. I remember one fella was on the floor in the recovery position. Perhaps he'd decided to drink his days supply rather than give it up?
We had our sandwiches with us but no beer so we were ok.

The day was spent sitting in the sunshine, listening to people moan as the H-U-G-E screen was tuned to (then relatively new), MTV.

One bloke really lost his cool when Jackson 5 parodies '5 Star' had their opportunity to show their latest video.
He kept saying louder and louder, "Look at everyone's T- shirts, we don't want to see this shite".
He ended up having a vicious argument with his wife/girlfriend/ sister, who went off in a huff and we didn't see her for the rest of the day.

The support act of Belouis Some was quite frankly, cack.
Bottles and half eaten sandwiches started flying around the crowd which must have been a nightmare to clear up afterwards.

Status Quo arrived by helicopter, landed, ran on stage, put their heads down, crashed through their set, then got back onto the helicopter and flew to Switzerland for another show.
The highlight of their appearance was one of their roadies climbing about 100ft on top of the giant screen, to play along with what looked like a blow up guitar.
Everyone cheered madly and the Quo didn't know what was happening.

Apparently they sacked him when they found out.

Big Country managed to torture their instruments enough to make that strange bagpipe sound but Stuart Adamson didn't manage anything as good as his 'Into the Valley' by previous band Skids.

As the light began to fade, more than 125,000 people pushed forwards, (though many reports have the attendance at over 300,000), some rather strange blow up characters resembling the members of Queen inflated and flew above the stage and suddenly we were off.

I won't bore you with the set list but recalling the lights being shone onto the crowd for 'Radio GaGa' as everyone clapped in unison still brings a shiver to my spine.

Freddie Mercury had everyone in the palm of his hand.
It was the show to end all shows.
He must have known he was ill and possibly believed it could be his last live appearance, with no new shows on the horizon.
He gave it everything.

As we now know, that show was the last one Queen ever gave, (at least with Freddie Mercury).
It seems strange now but not only did we not realise Mercury was ill, we also didn't even know he was gay!

In retrospect it all seems so obvious, even down to the name of the band but I can remember getting home, eventually, at around 4 am, then waking for breakfast and proclaiming the show being "brilliant" but the singer sometimes sounded "a bit poofy" when he spoke to the crowd!

All these years later, I still look back on that day with fondness.
I wasn't in The Cavern for the Beatles but I was at Wembley Stadium For the First Division Play Off Final, May Bank Holiday 1998 and I was also at the final show by Queen.

Both of those events I will take to the grave.


I've just realised that today is the 10th anniversary of the tragic death of Pierre Bolangi.

R.I.P Pierre.


why Egypt ? said...

many thanks

Marco. said...

You're welcome.
A big hello to all the Cairo Addicks!

Anonymous said...

Are there any Cairo Addicks?

Miss Kish said...

Great story Marco. Plus you mentioned one of my all time favourite bands, Beloui..... no only joking, Big Country.
Yes there are some memories that you will take with you to the grave.

Anonymous said...

I actually saw Queen supporting Mott The Hoople at Chatham town hall 1970something. They were quite good then!
Just thought i'd mention it.