Queen are my favourite band of all time. While the words ‘genius’ and ‘legend’ can be overused, they undoubtedly apply to Freddie Mercury, who was taken from us far too soon. And all of the members of the group are legends in their own right. I never get tired of hearing their amazing music.
And right now the band are experiencing yet another wave of well-deserved popularity and publicity thanks to the new Bohemian Rhapsody movie that came our recently. There were some hurdles in its development, it’s fair to say, but they got there in the end. And to help celebrate it, the shopping district of Carnaby in London have got lights up with lyrics from Bohemian Rhapsody and a special pop-up Queen shop that’s also a mini-museum.
So back in October I visited the Queen shop soon after it opened and got myself a few things. And then yesterday I went to see the film, and took another walk to Carnaby to see the lights. So in this post I’m going to tell you what I thought of the movie, share some photos of the Carnaby lights and the Queen shop, and show you what I bought. I hope you enjoy it!
Note: This post is not sponsored, and I’ve had no contact with anybody connected with Carnaby, Queen or the movie. I explored all of this purely as a fan, so all opinions are my own.
Bohemian Rhapsody Movie
The Bohemian Rhapsody movie has been well worth the wait, it’s brilliant. Rami Malek is amazing as Freddie Mercury, credit where it’s due there. Various aspects like his body language and facial expressions and the way he sings, for instance, show that there’s been real attention to detail. It’s not a parody, it’s a faithful tribute to him. Obviously you can tell that it’s not quite Freddie, but it’s so close that you can forget it’s an actor sometimes as you get drawn into it. And the other members of the band are good here too. It’s important that they’re all represented given that they all contributed hugely. All 4 of them wrote songs that were big hits for the group, and that’s quite a novelty for a band!
A 2-hour film naturally can’t go into huge detail about the story of Queen and Freddie, and there are some inaccuracies given the adjustments they’ve made for dramatic purposes. The movie is for entertainment after all. If you want a proper documentary then I highly recommend Queen: Days Of Our Lives and Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender, both of which are great. But in general the film gives a nice overview of the period from Queen’s formation through to Live Aid, with good pacing and acting and cinematography. It’s very interesting and enjoyable viewing.
Plenty of their hits are also thrown in as you’d hope and expect, plus a few lesser-known tracks too. And there’s a great soundtrack album to go with it. It kicks off with Brian May’s interpretation of the 20th Century Fox theme, which gave me goosebumps when I heard it in the cinema. His guitar playing always grabs me.
The rest of the album has many of Queen’s biggest hits, most of which are studio and live versions that have been released before. However, there are some great versions of songs that are previously unreleased, including a version of Doin’ All Right by Smile (Brian May & Roger Taylor’s band before Queen, with Tim Staffell as lead singer), rare live versions of Fat Bottomed Girls and Love Of My Life, a ‘Movie Mix’ of We Will Rock You which shifts from the studio version to a live version partway through, and a great ‘Revisited’ remix of Don’t Stop Me Now.
But the most notable part of the album is a collection of tracks from their set at Live Aid, marking the very first time they’ve been released in audio-only form (previously you could watch the performances on the Live Aid DVD box set or on Queen Rock Montreal & Live Aid). Unfortunately it’s not complete, because a few songs they did on the day are cut out, so that’s a great shame. But still, it’s better than nothing.
Live Aid is the major highlight of the film too, everything builds up to that. The recreation of Queen’s set from that concert is phenomenal, mirroring the original performance with extreme accuracy, though filmed in a much more cinematic way which puts you right at the heart of the action. The performances of Rami Malek and his fellow bandmates are spot on, they clearly put a lot of work into getting it right.
And it was well worth the time and effort, it’s the perfect way to end the movie. A lot of music fans dived on to the Queen bandwagon for the first time when they saw them at Live Aid in 1985, as they dominated the concert with their 20 minutes of glory, and that part of the movie alone could easily have a similar effect now.
So I can highly recommend the film, especially if you’re a Queen fan of course, but also to anyone who doesn’t know them that well. It’s just fabulous, you’ll love it.
As part of the build-up to the film, Carnaby have decorations all down the street, featuring lyrics from Bohemian Rhapsody. The curly script typeface isn’t that easy for me to read, but the words of the song are so well known anyway that it’s never difficult to figure them out.
On my first visit, the day I went to the shop, I only saw the decorations in the daytime without the lights on, but after seeing the movie this weekend, I got to see the decorations at night all lit up, and they’re beautiful. Click those latter 2 links to see more photos on my Instagram.
Queen Pop-Up Shop
The Queen pop-up shop is a great place. Not only does it have lots of merchandise, it’s also a mini-museum, with some nice exhibits. In particular, I was lucky enough to visit when they had the Madame Tussauds statue of Freddie Mercury on display, which I believe was only there for a limited time. And it looks amazing. It captures Freddie’s appearance, power, energy and stage presence perfectly, so to be able to get right up close to him was very cool.
Another prominent exhibit is a drum kit used by Roger Taylor, in front of a bank of screens that show Queen performing in the studio and live on stage. There’s also a wall full of photos of the band, and promotional posters for their concert tours on display.
As for merchandise, they had things like t-shirts, denim jackets, albums, DVDs and Blu-rays, playing cards, caps, fridge magnets, teddy bears, Queen In 3D (with 3D glasses), Queen Monopoly (where the properties are Queen’s concert venues), Queen Gin, Brian May signed guitars, Roger Taylor drumsticks, a lamp, a watch, and much more.
And naturally I ended up treating myself to a few things, mainly clothing:
- A long-sleeved black t-shirt with a rainbow-coloured version of the band’s crest.
- A short-sleeved white t-shirt with the same rainbow-coloured crest.
- A short-sleeved off-white t-shirt for Queen On Tour ’79 in Germany, with an image of the band and the tour dates. Bit random perhaps, but I liked the look of it.
- A short-sleeved yellow t-shirt with a stylised image of Fredde Mercury plus his signature on the front, and the logo for the Mercury Phoenix Trust on the back.
- A large glass stein (a pint glass with a handle) with a large, metal and very tactile version of the band’s crest on it.
And I’m very happy with all of that. The t-shirts fit very well, and the glass is nice and big for drinking out of, so it was all worth the money.
All in all, these recent outings have very much satisfied the obsessive Queen fan in me. The movie exceeded my expectations, with Rami Malek putting in a superb performance as the greatest showman of all time, while the lights in Carnaby are beautiful, and the Queen shop is a treasure trove of exhibits and products.
If you like the band in any way, whether you just know a few of their hits or you’re a big follower of everything they do, it’s worth checking all of this stuff out, because it’s a fantastic tribute to an amazing group. They are the champions who will rock you like you’re their best friend, and their show will go on forever. 🙂