“Another party’s over…” as the opening words to my favourite Queen song go. I can’t believe it is a year that the last Freddie Birthday Party in Montreux happened. Once again the weather was a good friend to the hundreds of fans who made the journey to Montreux in Switzerland from countries all over the world including Argentina, Japan and Australia, just to mention a few.
The evening was packed with wonderful smiling faces, floating around in a sea of red and black, the colours chosen for Freddie’s 72nd birthday. Maureen Barclay opened up here tables at 3pm as usual and I noticed she had left, her space empty, just after the doors opened in the Casino at 5pm. Also on the table, Jiri Sevcik was selling copies of the new version of “Man From Manhattan”, the track originally released back in the 1970s by Eddie Howell, with backing vocals by Freddie and Brian, and guitar from Brian as well. This is a ‘swing band’ version specially created with profits going to MPT. Justin, in the Studio, and Greg, in the Exhibition part of the Experience were very busy all afternoon, Justin with some new mixed tracks, and Greg letting people try of Freddie’s Magic Tour Jacket. Fans we asked for donations to the MPT for the privilege and during the afternoon and evening he raised well over 1,000 chf.
Claudia Walker opened up the evening just before 6pm giving the audience an idea of what to expect during the evening, including a special surprise!
I was then on stage to fill in the gaps left by Claudia and explained about the video that was to be shown about the Bejart Ballet, and the live band for the evening, Bulsara and His Queenies.
I then brought to the stage Jiri Sevcik and someone so many people know and love, Jim Jenkins, who gave a short history of how the song ‘Man From Manhattan’ originated. Then we heard the full track for the first time and it was well received.
I then introduced a young French man, Mark Marian who had, through his love for Freddie, produced a song and a video called ‘Farrokh’.
It was then time for the video premiere of The Bejart Ballet documentary. After the presentation, which included brand new conversations with Brian and Roger there was a short Q & A with Lynne Wake, the director and former ballet dancer, and myself, hosted by Simon Lupton, the producer of the video.
Claudia once again returned to the stage to present the ‘surprise’, a 6 minute preview of the new Bohemian Rhapsody film with a filmed introduction by some of the cast!
After that dinner was served which included chicken skewers, vegetable lasagne and a salad as well as a choice of desserts.
The live band of the evening was brought on by Claudia who mentioned that the lead singer, Gareth Taylor, had himself won the karaoke competition 2 years before. They gave a wonderful 2 hour set including old favourites and many tracks not regularly performed. The audience loved them. Their set was also watched by a few thousand people on the live stream on facebook and youtube.
The evening ended with the much loved karaoke contest, this time with a difference, it was ‘bandaoke’ each of the singers was backed by the Queenies. This was eventually won by critical acclaim by Rebecca, who got to sing ‘We Are The Champions’ live with the band.
Many thanks are owed to the many pairs of hands and legs behind the scenes that make sure the evening goes off without a hitch, and of course to ALL the fans out there who help the MPT in their way. You all know that much of what I do, I do for that cause, and I will be carrying on with it for a long time yet. HAPPY BIRTHDAY FREDDIE.
p.s. Normal ‘ask Phoebe’ will be resumed next time...