Is Queen overrated as a live band
Report by Horst Zwipp:
The World Liberty Concert on the occasion of the 50th end of World War II, which took place at the foot of the famous Arnhem Bridge, was a major event in which I was allowed to participate with Chris Thompson and the Alan Parsons Project. But what is happening here in Cape Town is yet another dimension.
Another dimension of logistics, organization, media, performing artists, the continent and the purpose of the event. Not that I would like to reduce the extent of World War II with all its suffering and misery at this point. Not at all. For years, however, we have been in a war, the extent of which cannot yet be foreseen: AIDS. This concert is intended to help, on the one hand, to collect urgently needed funds against this hitherto almost hopeless fight and, on the other hand, to once again address the deadly danger of this disease. and the performing artists, statesmen, industrial magnates and VIPs from all over the world have dedicated themselves to this task, not only on this magical November 29, 2003 here in Cape Town.
The rehearse have been going on for almost 3 weeks now. The first week in London and now the second and third week in Cape Town. As members of the SAS tape the so-called Houseband of most performing artists, there is naturally a huge repertoire of songs to study. All the more so, of course, since all the artists performing live on stage play. Also not always common practice. Sometimes the singers rehearsed together with the band in London and also here in Cape Town, artists such as Beyoncé Knowles, Anastacia etc. will only rehearse with the band on Thursday or Friday before the concert.
Here are the members of the Houseband:
Keyboards, Guitar: Spike Edney (Queen, Bon Jovi etc.)
Bass: Steve Stroud (Cliff Richard etc.)
Guitar: Jamie Moses (Pretenders, Paul Young etc.)
Drums: Eric Singer (Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Kiss etc.)
Saxophone: Steve Hamilton (Blur etc.)
Trumpet: Andy Bush (Roxy Music etc.)
Background vocals: Zoe Nicholas (Pink Floyd, Georg Michael, etc.)
Sound engineer: Simon Hart (Pink Floyd, Foreigner etc.)
Chris Thompson takes on a not entirely insignificant role in this entire concert. He acts as a
- Voice trainer for most singers,
- partially takes on their role in the more than hard samples,
- is on stage as a background singer for most of them
- takes over the lead part of the song "The Show Must Go On" together with Queen.
Here is a little anecdote from the rehearsals in the Cyclops Studio on Tuesday:
The band rehearsed a song that was a Corgy hit in the 1970s: "Everybody Loves Sometimes," the new single from Zucchero. He came a little later, set up his keyboard, one or two subtleties were discussed with Spike Edney and off we went. First take. Zucchero is sitting at the keyboard, playing the first chords and suddenly Chris Thompson's voice can be heard to his left. I had to suppress my laugh when I saw Zucchero's head movement, who jerked to the man of the voice and saw admiration in his gaze. Without any envy. A little later you saw the two completely absorbed in conversation or singing when they went through the song again vocally for themselves. Without a tape, just like that. Immersed in the here and now.
It always happens like this, or something like that, when Chris Thompson raises his voice. So he also got the honor of being together with Queen the song The Show Must Go On to sing live on stage. This is one of the harder songs, the one to remember Freddie Mercury wrote and Chris Thompson is aware of this. You can't copy or replace Freddie Mercury, and neither does Chris Thompson. He gives the song his soul as a bow to one of the greatest rock singers of all time.
The entire performance that Chris Thompson has to do here as a singer is of course a pretty tough number and requires iron discipline for body, mind and soul. I benefit too, as I have the pleasure of assisting Mr. Thompson with his morning jogging and stretching exercises. In other words - I pant after panting and only look reasonably happy with the Tai Jhi exercises. Fortunately, he gave me the vocal exercises on the basis of his infamous scale opera cassette for all Capetonians.
Once in your life Brian May live and about 3 meters from you, in a simple rehearsal room, playing the guitar and, above all, hearing it, that redefines the term rock guitar. This man and this game is just amazing. Incredibly virtuoso, unbelievably loud, unbelievably present, unbelievable ..... any superlative simply fits. Incredible.
It's also kind of funny when you look at the pretty young lady who plays the violin so skillfully. You smile at her, she smiles back, you start a conversation, very nice, completely normal and Roger Taylor from Queen then comes along and introduces us to each other because we had simply forgotten (out of embarrassment? bias?): Sharon Corr - Horst Zwipp. Sharon Corr? From the Corrs? Great, you great music connoisseur. But in such a rehearsal room everything is reduced to the essentials. And that's good because here, in these hours, it's really only the music that counts. And nothing else. I'm looking forward to Beyoncé on Friday. And Anastacia.
Who really impressed me was Johnny Clegg. Unfortunately the battery of my digicam ran out, so there are no pictures of it. I always thought Johnny Clegg was African because of his songs and pronunciation. Not even close. He is a white South African and has a charisma that I have seldom experienced. During the rehearsals he had a 40-strong choir with him, which consisted of female and male Africans of all ages.
When the voices of such a choir rise, when you look into the eyes full of zest for life, full of hope, when you see the rhythmic body movements and feel the vibe, then, yes, your heart really opens and you suddenly start to think. About a lot of things. About important things. And about things that are actually not really important in our success-oriented, rushed, European life.
Here, in these magical hours, days and weeks in Cape Town, the statement is simply true that Music across borders goes away, connects people and peoples. Here people and peoples celebrate a community that is equally tangible and tangible with hands and souls.
I am proud to be a part of this event. Proud to work, proud to be able to help here. To be a small part of a bigger whole. The rehearsals will continue tomorrow (Wednesday). However, not until 5 p.m. But then for the first time in Green Point Stadium. And among others with Peter Gabriel. And as I am now experiencing with Beyoncé Knowles. However, during the day there is still work and organization. And jogged and stretched. There are worse things to do.
Saturday, November 29th, 2003 - The show day
The Artist village is just gigantic. Countless Bedouin-style tents with beautiful carpets, African lights, etc. create a wonderful atmosphere. Everything is tense somehow. Understandably. It's just before the showdown and there's a hectic hustle and bustle. Brian May his guitar is right (actually himself), Zucchero calms down with his digicam, the girls of Corrs sit together and smoke cigarettes, Sir Bob Geldof ringing restlessly between the tents, Peter Gabriel plays with his child and Beyoncé storms the tent city with a group of 15.
And Bono? The Edge? Suddenly they are in the catering tent and would hardly be noticed if there wasn't a constant crowd around them. You are very personable, as I shall find out later.
The show starts and everything that can run is right there backstage. The rear part of the stage is almost as deep as the actual stage. Here there are numerous television monitors on which you can follow what is happening on stage, interview areas of various TV stations and and and. I stand in the back and Peter Gabriel and band comes from the stage. Together we leave the stage area in the direction of the artist village. Suddenly several security people are standing in front of us and send us to a certain corner of the rear stage area, where we have to wait behind a barrier. Minutes go by, Peter Gabriel looks at me questioningly, still with his headset on. We both shrug our shoulders. Suddenly another request to change our location and go behind another barrier. Everything is excited, jumps around. We stand there as ordered and not picked up. Minutes pass while we watch the hectic activity. Then suddenly the request to leave the stage area as quickly as possible. Chaotic. We comply with the request and suddenly see why all this. A black, darkened limousine stands directly behind the stage, surrounded by bodyguards. Nelson Mandela. Clear. Next to it is a golf vehicle with which Nelson Mandela is supposed to be driven onto the stage because he has problems with his knees. The door opens and he gets out. A smile crosses his face when he sees us all. He waves to us. This man has a charisma, that's unbelievable. I always thought, up until this point, that anything about this man was a little overrated. Far from it, Mr Zwipp. This man is one of the last greats in our world. Without doubt. Hopefully it will stay with us and especially Africa for a long time to come.
His appearance or his speech was more than acclaimed. Rightly so. You name him here Madiba, which means something like "boss". And this is it. A gentle boss. One who cares. Even in the greatest personal suffering. Imprisoned for 27 years. Of these 17 years on Robben Island in a 5 square meter cell. Nelson Mandela - I adore you.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation has taken the hostage AIDS declared war. She has important colleagues such as America and Mr. Bush, Mr. Schrempp from Daimler Chrysler, Oprah Winfrey (who was also there) and numerous artists. Here above all Bono, who is a close friend of Nelson Mandela and, in addition to his musical power and message, has an unmistakable and tangible influence on world politics. It is he who demands and also monitors that it is brought in. For this he deserves more than thanks. Hinz and Kunz are made knights - why not actually Bono? At some point you will not get around and that is the right thing to do.
The concert was a complete success. Musically, artistically and above all financially due to the broadcasting rights in over 160 countries around the world. Not to mention the attention: valued 3 billion people followed the concert on TV screens around the world. Only - does it all help? Does it really help the people in Africa decisively further in their fight against AIDS? I dare to doubt it. There is no question that something has to be done, but to achieve any quantifiable success you would really have to put one person at a time to make sure that condoms are actually used to contain this epidemic. And unfortunately this doesn't work that way.
In Africa there is a lack of basic intelligence. And a social intelligence. AIDS is mainly transmitted through sexual intercourse. And intercourse is based on the sex drive. And this drive is certainly far more pronounced and different in the people on this continent than in Europe. In tough words: if someone here wants to have sexual intercourse, then he has it. Whether the partner wants it or not. And then there is no longer any question of contraception. Harsh words, but these are facts. And here is the real problem. Add to this the unspeakable poverty and the fact that most people can really only survive through sex or drugs (what a contradiction, isn't it?), One can imagine the spread of this disease like a bush fire very well.
In any case, I was shocked, moved, deeply sad and horrified when you see children here on site T-shirts with the imprint "I HAVE AIDS" sees. Or e.g. get to know a boy who is the longest living person who has been infected with HIV since he was born. It is a very nice boy who was at this concert at Bono's invitation. Unfortunately, I have no knowledge of how Bono knows him. He can be seen with me in one of the pictures. In any case, I got autographs from most of the artists together with him his bright, happy eyes will always be with me. How can you be so happy knowing that you have this deadly disease within you? I don't know, but he gave me courage and I thank him for that. My personal, supposed problems suddenly became so inexpressibly small and meaningless.
I am grateful to have been part of this important and great event. And I am grateful to have met people whose greatness is to be humble. Humble in a life that can be very, very hard and unfair, but also very beautiful. Even with the deadliest disease. Thanks to friends.
Horst Zwipp, Cape Town, 11/29/2003
Brian May & Zucchero
Brian May & Zucchero
Chris Thompson & Zucchero
Chris Thompson & Horst Zwipp
VIP tent & Green Point Stadium
African boy & Horst Zwipp
Anastacia & African Boy (Aftershow)
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