Queen’s ‘Set List’ Scrutinized In Episode 17 Of ‘The Greatest Live’

Featuring exclusive new interviews with Brian May and Roger Taylor, this week’s episode reveals how a well-structured set list builds atmosphere.

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Freddie Mercury - Photo Copyright Queen Productions Ltd

In recent episodes of Queen’s weekly video series ‘The Greatest Live,’ we’ve heard about the band’s philosophy of starting shows hard and fast. This week, in Episode 17 – which you can watch below – in exclusive new interviews with Brian May and Roger Taylor, we discover how a well-structured set list can build atmosphere and shift mood, holding fans rapt until the final note of “We Are The Champions.”

Says Brian: “Set lists are a very interesting case. You have all these songs and everything and what is the optimum way to put them across? Do you just go in there and randomly work your way through where you can and that’s how everybody starts. But wouldn’t it be nice if you can take the audience on a journey and optimize the mood that happens?”

“The thing is, you want to quit before they want you to quit, you have to kind of be a little bit ahead of the game and we evolved this kind of shape to a show which is basically come on big. I mean, there are variations of this, but the shape was generally, come on big, give them what they’ve been waiting for.”

“They’re full of adrenaline,” he adds. “They want to rock hard, hard, hard. So, the first two or three songs [in the set list] hit them hard in different ways, different tempos, different kind of atmospheres, but all hard rock.”

Queen The Greatest Live: Set List (Episode 17)

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Roger Taylor: “It’s really you try and make an impact with the first song visual and obviously sort of an aural attack really. And then you try and space the songs in the set list intelligently, but you really want to go bang, bang, bang, bang at the beginning of a show.”

“And then the show can just take its normal sort of course and we meander all over the place with different styles of stuff, and then you’ll have a sort of hiatus, a sort of calm spot, which is normally Brian, he’s very good at that. He’ll just have an acoustic guitar at the beginning. We’ll do something on our B stage, which is like right up into the audience, which is much more sort of close contact, you know, and more intimate.”

Long-standing fans will fondly remember Brian and Freddie Mercury’s acoustic sets, holding vast stadiums in the palm of their hands with the band’s most thoughtful songs like “Is This The World We Created” and “Love Of My Life.”

Brian May: “I don’t know if anyone had ever done that in the way that we did it, but you really take them down to rock bottom because you abandon all your pizzazz and all your sort of dramatic effects and everything.”

“I go, at the moment, it’s mainly me that goes out. I go out, I have just an acoustic guitar. I’m right in the middle of the auditorium and I’m kind of naked. There is nothing else going on except me trying to be close to the audience. That’s the sort of lowest you go in terms of energy and drama, I suppose.”

Roger Taylor: “And so that would be that bit and hopefully that’s quite exciting in a different way. And then we’ll go back to the main stage for the sort of big grand run up to the end of the show, which is the sort of quite big numbers, you know, sort of big grand spectacular numbers.”

Brian May: “And at that moment we have like “The Show Must Go On,” “Radio Gaga,” “We Will Rock You,” “We Are The Champions.” And you can’t go far wrong with that because you’re building and building and building the whole time and you’re giving people basically what they’ve come to see.”

Roger Taylor: “And it’s as if they were made for that, but they weren’t. But that’s just the way it’s turned out over the years. I think we like to send our audiences home feeling they’ve had a real experience.

Watch every episode of ‘Queen The Greatest Live’ on the band’s official YouTube channel.

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