5 times Freddie Mercury proved he was the greatest performer that ever lived

26 August 2022, 11:08

The Queen frontman wowed millions of fans over his 25-year career and his vocals are still lauded as among the best of all time.
The Queen frontman wowed millions of fans over his 25-year career and his vocals are still lauded as among the best of all time. Picture: Getty

By Giorgina Hamilton

Freddie Mercury's outstanding vocals are hard to beat, but there are a handful of Queen performances that stand out from the rest.

Freddie Mercury was possibly the best rock showman that ever lived.

The Queen frontman wowed millions of fans throughout his 25-year career – joining his first band when he was just 13 – and his vocals are still lauded as among the best of all time.

Freddie Mercury pictured performing with Queen at Wembley stadium on July 11, 1986
Freddie Mercury pictured performing with Queen at Wembley stadium on July 11, 1986. Picture: Getty

There are some performances however that have an extra essence of magic; a moment in time so astounding it can never be replicated.

Here we take a look at the fives time Freddie Mercury proved his stage presence was unrivalled...

  1. 'Radio Gaga' at Live Aid in 1985

    In the history of live shows, 1985's Live Aid is undoubtedly one of the greatest gigs ever performed on British soil.

    Just some of the line-up of 75 acts that shook Wembley on the day included Elton John, Madonna, Sting, Bryan Adams, the Beach Boys, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Duran Duran, U2, the Who and Eric Clapton.

    But it was Queen, and Freddie Mercury's incredible performance, that really rocked the stadium with the singer's live rendition of 'Radio Ga Ga' becoming one of the most famous of his career.

    The band's Live Aid set has often been lauded as the 'greatest live gig of all time' and Freddie Mercury's ringmaster performance had the audience eating out of his hand.

    “I’d never seen anything like that in my life and it wasn’t calculated, either… it was the greatest day of our lives,” Brian May said of the performance.

  2. 'We Will Rock You' at Rock in Rio, 1985

    Queen's 1984/1985 The Works Tour was a sight to behold.

    Featuring elaborate stage sets and increasingly slicker costumes, the tour included headlining two nights of the annual Brazilian music festival, Rock In Rio in January 1985, entertaining a crowd of 600,000 enraptured fans.

    Freddie Mercury performing 'We Will Rock You' – while wrapped in combined Union Jack and Brazilian flag and sporting a black mullet – has been dubbed by I Love Classic Rock as 'one of the most epic moments in rock history'.

    While the concert contained other Queen hits such as 'Under Pressure', 'We Are The Champions' and 'Radio Ga Ga' and 'I Want To Break Free' it was the 1977 classic, 'We Will Rock You' that really brought down the house.

  3. 'Somebody to Love' in Montreal, 1981

    Freddie Mercury's rendition of 'Somebody To Love' in Montreal, Canada is a show-stopper.

    Queen played two sold-out shows at the Montreal Forum on November 24th and 25th, 1981, but it wasn't all smooth sailing.

    The shows were being recorded by director Saul Swimmer, who Freddie reportedly "took an instant dislike to", and ideas were clashing throughout the production.

    "What you will see in this film is a very edgy, angry band, carving out a performance in a rather uncomfortable situation," Brain May later said of the footage.

    "But it does mean it’s very high energy, real, and raw."

    Queen Rock Montreal was released in 2007 as a live album and All Music described the concerts as "deliberately theatrical and often majestic".

    Long live Queen Freddie!

  4. 'Hungarian Rhapsody' in Budapest, 1986

    As portrayed in the stunning documentary film Hungarian Rhapsody: Queen Live in Budapest, Freddie Mercury's 1986 Budapest performance has gone down in the record books.

    Not only was the performance at the height of Queen's career – the concert was part of the group's iconic European Magic Tour – but was especially notable because it made Queen the first western band to perform a stadium show behind the iron curtain.

    The Hungarian concert, and Freddie's stunning rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, would be bittersweet.

    Unknown at the time, the Budapest show would be part of the last tour Freddie Mercury would ever perform with Queen – his last time on stage with the band being the tour's final gig at Knebworth on August, 9 1986.

  5. 'I Want To Break Free' – Queen Live At Wembley in 1986

    Filmed on Saturday July 12, 1986 during Queen's iconic Magic Tour, this version of 'I Want To Break Free' is Freddie Mercury at his very best.

    Filmed at one of the largest venues in Europe, the show hails Freddie in his prime, a human powerhouse and unique showman at his peak.

    The 100,000-strong crowd had seen INXS and Status Quo as the opening acts and Queen played jaw-dropping renditions of 'It's a Kind of Magic" and 'Another One Bites the Dust' before Freddie stepped on stage for 'I Want To Break Free'.

    Brandishing his microphone and stalking the front of the stage, Freddie had the audience with him every step of the way as he bellowed the iconic track.

    "There are some half-decent pretenders out there," one commentator said.

    "But no-one can and probably will come close to Queen live, now that's magic!"