Title - 'The Candlelight Concerts - Live at Montreux 2013'
Artist - Brian May & Kerry Ellis
Queen legend Brian May and first lady of the West End Kerry Ellis come together for two incredible musical outings here on The Candlelight Concerts. The first was filmed at the renowned Stravinski Auditorium during the Montreux Jazz Festival in July 2013, the second is the CD of 'Acoustic By Candlelight' - recorded live on the UK leg of their tour in Autumn 2012.
We kick-off this lovely, and I have to say completely unexpected duet album with the lush acoustic work of 'Born Free.' A song that immediately showcases both the known guitar work of May, but also the stunning vocal abilites of Ellis. Wow, can she ever hit those high notes. After the applause dies down, they both thank the audience and then introduce each other. May then goes on to inform us that their Born Free Tour is all about how we treat the animals on the planet; especially the lions in Africa. May then reveals that some of the songs they will play tonight have animal meanings, even if 'I Loved A Butterfly' is more of a metophorical one.
Recorded back on their Born Free Tour 2012 (whereas the also-included DVD was from their Live At Montreux 2013 Tour), the former date actually served as being Brian May's birthday. Indeed this was the penultimate show of their Born Free Candlelight Tour and the way they have stripped down these songs - some known, some not so much - is truly incredible.
Moving on and Ellis reveals that the next song, 'I Who Have Nothing' is "a classic song made famous by Shirley Bassey orignally ... it's an Italian song that we've done a slightly different version of for you tonight.") She then thanks the applauding audience before May speaks about the old touring days of Queen. It's then that he mentions touring with Kansas back in the day and so next up is 'Dust In The Wind.'
"We're gonna take a little risk now, as we haven't played this song much ... as we only wrote it a few days ago," he laughs. "It's a very catchy little pop song so it's bound to be a big hit," he laughs again. They then launches into the exhaustingly bouncy pop fun of 'The Kissing Song,' before May talks a bit about his guitar and how Virginia McKenna (the whole reason behind Born Free) actually wrote 'Nothing Really Has Changed' many years ago whilst deep in the jungle. [FYI - There is a stunningly heartfelt video of this song being played for the first time to Virginia around a camp fire included as a bonus on the DVD; filmed on location at Shamwari Game Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa in March 2012.]
May then tells the crowd they want to play a lesser-known song by Freddie and so next up is the beautiful 'Life Is Real.' Now, I'm a HUGE Queen fan, but even this track (perhaps the way it's sung) still made me question if I'd even ever heard it before! I had, of course, but the way Ellis sings it she definitely makes it her own. Ellis then introduces a song usually sung by Barbra Streisand, here on this night a stripped down version of 'The Way We Were.'
May then reveals that "My favorite group of all-time was The Beatles and always will be. Most of the songs were written by the Lennon and McCartney partnership but not this one, This one was written by the youngest boy in the group, George Harrison. And boy oh boy, he wrote some absolute crackers." It's then that May electrifies his acoustic guitar and the pair bring us one of the true highlights of this live performance, 'Something.' They then flow seamlessly into the beautiful 'Love Of My Life,' which for the first time allows May to take centerstage vocals. Never one for having an outstanding set of pipes, Ellis soon wrangles the song away from him!
After the heavy applause dies down, May retires from the stage and allows Ellis to chat about her time spent in the stage play, Wicked. She then, alongside the dulcet keys of a piano brings us 'I'm Not That Girl.' Again rapturous applause comes across, before Ellis explains that 'I Can't Be Your Friend' was a new song written for her by both May and Don Black. May then asks the crowd if they want a Christmas carol before they then give us 'In The Bleak Midwinter.'
Sadly, some of the great Queen songs these two perform are only to be found on the DVD and not the audio CD. Cuts such as 'We Will Rock You,' 'Somebody To Love' and sadly 'Tie Your Mother Down' are all tucked away on the visual side of things, but that doesn't mean we can't experience the audio majesty of guitar-piano fusion of 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love.' After ecstatic applause the CD is then finally brought to an end by the piano-inspired majesty of 'No-One But You (Only The Good Die Young).'
Trust me when I say you want this CD to go on, and on ... and on! You simply don't want it to stop. Ellis' vocals are crisp, clear, stunningly-vibrant and commanding. Whereas May's guitar playing is as perfect, as clean as you have ever heard him stripped back before. Buy this CD/DVD combo now and enjoy an evening in that you will never, ever forget.
Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
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