Brian May Explains Why He Can’t Stand Watching Himself Play Queen Songs

Brian May, the guitarist for Queen, shared on Instagram recently about his difficulties while witnessing his own performance. He had previously seen a fan’s post with footage of him performing.

The article from October 21 claims that May may be seen performing the “Bohemian Rhapsody” solo live in Austin, Texas. May shared the video on social media after seeing it and mentioned that he didn’t feel comfortable seeing snippets of his own shows. He acknowledged that he had trouble watching himself and said:

“Good Morning Chicago! Good to be back in your epic city. It always gives me a charge. This clip posted by @stereo_ephemera caught my eye. I don’t often post videos of me playing in our show – because I usually find it hard to look at them and see the imperfections. This is actually no different, except that it’s a good video capture with a cracking sound quality.

This was the night we had trouble with our Black Tracks. These are devices that enable the spotlights to follow us automatically as we range around the stage, freeing up the lighting team’s hands to do other things. It’s a great system and seldom gives trouble – but every system (including us as performers) has the occasional gremlin.”

That evening, May brought notice to a flaw in the Black Tracks system, which presented an unexpected obstacle for him to perform:

“So, the result was that in this clip, you can see it takes a long time for the front follow-spot to find me. It makes for an interesting, dramatically dark face, but it also means that, especially in all that smoky stuff, I can’t see my fingers, making things just a little more difficult than usual!”

The Other Struggles May Faced During The Show

May mentioned that there are stresses associated with performing the solo from “Bohemian Rhapsody” and that his rendition of the song varied every night depending on a number of circumstances.

“It’s a high-pressure moment anyway because I perform it as a set piece, and just like ‘God Save the Queen’ on top of Buckingham Palace, pretty much everybody knows what it should sound like! Although the ‘tune’ is more or less prescribed, it works out vastly differently every night, depending on how well I can hear myself, what my mood is like, and how the wind blows!”

On this particular night, a quick wardrobe change led May to opt for a simple shirt instead of his ‘human mirror ball’ suit. Revealing why this adjustment was made, the guitarist continued:

“It’s also a mad scramble underneath the stage on wheels to get into that trap to rise up in smoke at that precise moment. It’s fun, for sure – a kind of magic trick that entails a lightning-quick change of clothes too. On this particular night, time was too tight to don the ‘human mirror ball’ suit I’ve been sporting. So here I am, in a simple shirt, to make the change happen in time.

I look at this and feel very critical – of both me and what I’m doing… but at this time of life, I’ve come to an acceptance of what it is. I just know I give it my best shot every night. See you there tonight, Chicagoans. Now you’ll know what’s going through my mind. Maybe!”

Brian May On His Self Doubts

Thinking back on his childhood, May acknowledged that he experienced shyness, uncertainty, and insecurity as a youngster. In 2020, he also expressed displeasure with the frequently fabricated images on social media. He decided to talk about his personal issues on Instagram in spite of his reservations. May disclosed the reasoning for her choice, saying:

“I hesitated about talking about [my personal problems] on Instagram because I wasn’t looking for sympathy or anything like that, but, at the same time, Instagram has a tendency to be what they call ‘my perfect life’ — you just show the gold bits.

I felt an obligation [to talk] about how I felt because I had a feeling that a lot of other people probably were looking at the streets and thinking, ‘Everybody’s getting this except me,’ because that’s the way I felt.”

When May went on the Queen and Adam Lambert UK tour the previous year, he faced his insecurities. Even after more than 50 years of playing with the group, the guitarist admitted to having low self-esteem and feeling judgmental when playing live. It happened once more following the discovery of a fan-shot video. From May’s post:

“Here’s a fragment from my Dvořák solo adventure in the show a few nights ago. This is the kind of thing I always wanted to do – so it fulfills a dream for me. But on this particular night, I felt very critical of my playing – very lacking in confidence. So I wouldn’t have looked for a video clip of it.”

May did, however, add that after hearing a buddy compliment him on his guitar skills, he felt comforted by it.

Queen and Adam Lambert’s Upcoming Shows

Today is the start of Queen and Adam Lambert’s ‘Rhapsody Tour’s North American leg, and they are getting ready for their performance at the United Center in Chicago. In addition, they will be performing in Dallas, Denver, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in November. In 2024, the tour will continue to Japan. Tickets are available here.



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