Published On: Fri, Jan 5th, 2024

Brian May’s alternative Hammer To Fall live Queen footage unearthed | Music | Entertainment

This week’s episode of Queen The Greatest Live continues a focus on 21st century performances, diving into a Queen and Paul Rodgers classic from their 2005 tour.

As was the case in the band’s heyday with Freddie Mercury and John Deacon, Brian May and Roger Taylor continued to shake up their live renditions of their classic tracks as they toured with both Rodgers and eventually Adam Lambert.

Looking back at an alternative performance of Hammer to Fall, an accompanying caption reads: “One of the great joys of a Queen show is watching the band twist their standards into bold new shapes.

“To any fan onboard since the mid-’80s, the jagged opening guitar crunch of their 1984 classic Hammer To Fall is instantly familiar, heralding one of the band’s hardest-rocking cuts.

“But as we see in this week’s archive footage from the band’s Return of the Champions tour with Paul Rodgers in 2005, a great song can be presented a thousand different ways – with even the heaviest headbangers often revealing a tender heart beneath the overdrive.”

The caption continued: “Written by Brian May, and released as the fourth single from 1984’s The Works album, Hammer To Fall was always a deeper song than its thrilling route-one riff implied.

“Interpreted as an ode to the paranoia of the Cold War era (‘For we who grew up tall and proud/In the shadow of the mushroom cloud’) and the great leveller of death (‘Rich or poor or famous/For your truth it’s all the same’), Brian gave the official explanation on his website. Hammer To Fall is really about life and death, and being aware of death as being part of life – the hammer coming down is only a symbol of the Grim Reaper doing his job!”

The caption added: “Performing a carbon copy of Hammer To Fall each night could never satisfy this creatively fearless band. In this week’s episode of Queen The Greatest Live, the song is slowed to a stately pace and stripped to its aching soul, with Brian leading in the song amidst a waterfall of harmonies worthy of a gospel choir, before noughties-era frontman Paul Rodgers joins him for a touching duo performance.

“But of course, Queen would never send the hardcore rockers in the crowd home disappointed, and as the glistening chords of the reimagined song curdle into a squeal of feedback, Brian rises from his stool to fire the revved-up riff on all cylinders. For this happy audience, the hammer has well and truly fallen.”

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