QUEEN To Release 'Queen Rock Montreal' In May

March 14, 2024

"Queen Rock Montreal" captures the world's most iconic rock band at the very peak of their live powers. Recorded in 1981 and recently released as a record-breaking digitally restored IMAX concert film, this landmark moment in the band's history is now being released as both double Blu-ray and double 4K Ultra High Definition packages, plus double CD and triple vinyl packages. Both will be released worldwide on May 10, QUEEN has announced.

"Queen Rock Montreal" presents Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon at their most exciting and exhilarating. As Brian May puts it, this is QUEEN "live and dangerous."

QUEEN were on all-conquering form when they returned to Montreal, Canada for the fourth time in November 1981 to play two huge concerts at the 18,000-seat Forum.

This pair of Montreal concerts marked an historic moment for QUEEN. After their massive success in the 1970s, the band entered the 1980s bigger than ever, with the hugely successful "The Game" album producing their two biggest ever U.S. singles in "Another One Bites The Dust" and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" (both Billboard No. 1s),followed by the U.K. No.1 single "Under Pressure".

QUEEN's return to Montreal came after almost two years of touring, including their very first tours of South and Central America, which saw the band playing two nights at São Paulo's Morumbi Stadium to more than 150,000 devoted fans. As a result, when the band arrived in Canada in November 1981, they were in electrifying form.

"Montreal is one of our favorite cities, it's a great audience there, very full of energy," says Brian May. "We'd played this particular venue, The Forum, several times before, and it was always full of really enthusiastic people giving us a lot of energy back."

The original concerts, which took place on November 24 and 25, 1981, were truly ground-breaking. They were arranged specifically to be filmed for a full-length concert film to document their live show. Director Saul Swimmer planned to shoot them using state-of-the-art Double Anamorphic 35mm footage, which allowed it to be projected on a gigantic, five-story high screen. Backstage tensions between the members of QUEEN and Swimmer could have caused problems, but instead they propelled the band to new heights.

"We were very, very hyped up, some of the tempos are really fast, there's a lot of really incisive, angry playing," says May.

"Queen Rock Montreal" features a rawer version of the band who had released "Bohemian Rhapsody" half a decade earlier, showcasing their unparalleled musicianship, soaring vocal power and unstoppable live energy. "There's no one on the stage apart from us," says May.

Says Taylor: "It's fascinating to now realize how free we were on stage in 1981. It's a four piece, just the four of us in QUEEN, and to see Freddie. It's like being on stage with the band because the cameras are very high quality for the time. I've never seen anything that makes you feel quite so involved with the performance."

From Freddie Mercury's opening cry of "Hello Montreal… long time no see. You wanna get crazy?" through to the thrilling climactic one-two of "We Will Rock You" and "We Are The Champions", the energy rarely lets up — and even then only for signature ballad "Love Of My Life".

The powerful vocal acrobatics of Mercury, May's dazzling six-string pyrotechnics, Deacon's rock-solid heartbeat bass, Taylor's unstoppable rhythmic display, and not to mention the unique combination of all four voices — "Queen Rock Montreal" shows the total cohesion and individual strengths of four musicians who were, as Brian May says, "at the top of our game".

The album's 28-track setlist shows the breadth and brilliance of QUEEN's songwriting. It mixes 1970s classics ("Killer Queen", "Now I'm Here", "We Will Rock You", "We Are The Champions", "Bohemian Rhapsody") and recent hits ("Another One Bites The Dust", "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", "Play The Game", "Save Me") with fan-favorite deep cuts and album tracks ("Keep Yourself Alive", "Dragon Attack", "I'm In Love With My Car", "Sheer Heart Attack"),as well as two songs, "Flash" and "The Hero", which are exclusive to the audio-only formats. The audio comes as 2CD/3LP black vinyl and special 3LP Colored Transparent Blue Vinyl (Queen Online Store exclusive).

As never before seen, the package presents this historic performance for the first time in 4K with Dolby Atmos sound to experience rock and roll royalty with Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon as they take to the stage in this historic and exhilarating live concert from 1981.

The 35mm original negative has been scanned to ensure the highest possible resolution, which was then examined frame by frame to remove any dirt, damage or splices to enhance the sharpness and quality of the picture.

"I can't think of any other record of our shows in which you are so intimately in contact with Freddie," says May. "You can almost see everything that's going on in his head, you can see his anger, you can see his insecurity, you can see his consciousness that he can move people right to the back of the auditorium. To me, it's very emotional. Oh my God, he was good."

For the first time ever, the concert will be presented in both full-frame and widescreen formats. The full-screen aspect ratio echoing more closely the way the film was originally shot, and the widescreen being a carefully cropped alternative presentation to fill the 16:9 ratio. In addition, the 4K Ultra High Definition release also has SDR / HDR dynamic range options.

In addition to Montreal, this package includes the most famous 21 minutes in rock and roll history — QUEEN's electric performance at Live Aid, upscaled to high definition for the first time ever and with brand-new stereo, 5.1 and Dolby Atmos sound mixes, along with Freddie Mercury and Brian May performing "Is This The World We Created…?" later that evening.

Now, these double CD/triple vinyl LP and Double Blu-ray or double 4K Ultra High Definition packages bring an entirely new dimension to this iconic slice of QUEEN history.

"You see four young guys, we've already been around the world a lot of times, we've sold a lot of records, we've had a lot of hits, we know how to play with each other," says Brian May of "Queen Rock Montreal". "I feel proud of who we were at the time."

Taylor echoes the sentiment: "It's so satisfying to look at our younger selves in explosive action after all these years!"

The enduring power of "Queen Rock Montreal" was confirmed earlier in 2024, when a digitally remastered version of the film released exclusively in IMAX theatres became the most successful IMAX concert film ever, reaching a record-breaking £5.5M globally and surpassing TALKING HEADS' "Stop Making Sense" and THE BEATLES' "Get Back" documentary.

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