With Freddie Mercury, Queen’s live shows were just as much about entertainment and spectacle as they were about rock ‘n roll, which you can see in the latest episode of Queen The Greatest Live — “Big Spender.”
The episode showcases footage from two different Queen shows: 1975’s Christmas Eve show at London’s Hammersmith Odeon and a 1986 show at Wembley Stadium. Both feature Freddie Mercury performing a rocking, yet campy version of “Big Spender,” a song from the 1966 musical Sweet Charity.
In 1975, Freddie removes his kimono to reveal a white top and teeny white shorts. In 1986, he takes off his already-shredded shirt to finish the song bare-chested. He also changes the song’s pronouns, singing “everyone” or “every gal” rather than “every guy.”
In 1977, Freddie explained to Hit Parader that such a moment was only possible because Queen was already an established act.
“Sneaking my cabaret influences into our act was done slowly. Could you imagine me doing ‘Big Spender’ when we were first starting? As a rock band? They’d freak,” he said. “Now we do more a combination of rock ‘n roll and theater.”
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