After watching Bohemian Rhapsody at the weekend it felt right that Rami Malek was awarded the Oscar for best actor for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in the film. Part of the films magic is that Rami portrays Freddie with enough authenticity that we can grasp Freddie’s drive, nuances and charisma and above all how gifted and talented he was. I have never been a massive fan of Queen’s music but grew up hearing their music and re-enacting the Bohemian Rhapsody music video with my teddies for many hours. Maybe it was this nostalgia that drew me to watching the film. At the end of the film the recreation of Queens spot at Live Aid was mesmerising. Afterwards I felt compelled to watch the recording of the original Live Aid concert from 1985. What made it so incredible and powerful? Queens's performance was the one that stood out and has remained firm in people’s memories of that day.
In the film it was revealed that Freddie, prior to the concert had told the rest of the band, that he had aids and was dying (some claimed he did not formally discover he was HIV positive until 1987 but that he still knew he was ill prior to that date). Was it perhaps the knowledge that this might be one of the last times he would perform to a crowd of this magnitude that he gave such a breathtaking performance? The proximity to death reminds you of your relationship with others and to live more consciously in the present. To understand better what gives a life meaning and purpose. There is something in Freddie's voice, his swagger, his confidence which makes him powerful and authentic, as if he is singing to every individual person in that crowd. Some would argue that Freddie always performed with this vigour but his engagement with the crowd, his abandonment and unrelenting joy was so evident on this occasion that he encapsulated them with his presence. His voice soared above the crowd and it's truly incredible to watch him connecting to his audience.
Given its unspectacular reviews from the critics Bohemian Rhapsody has become an unquestionable favourite with the public grossing nearly £600m in box offices around the globe. A staggering feat considering it was made with a budget of £40m. Perhaps the audience mix of new and old generations were able to get a sense of the extraordinary magic that Freddie Mercury possessed and be in awe of Queen at Live Aid in which the world was their audience. A performance like no other we might see in this lifetime. Of someone singing with a full heart and being most present and open in that moment.