Happy Birthday, Dr. May!

A couple of days ago I was walking through the Toronto downtown, and, as I looked at the familiar enormousness of the Scotiabank Arena, my eyes welled up with tears. Because I remembered the summer of 2019 so clearly – how we strolled by the CN Tower all the way to the venue, to a joyful crowd of people wearing Queen t-shirts – my people, our people. And how we gasped at the sight of this sea of people, the multicolored lights, and the sounds of Track 13. When living through moments like this, I always return to my teenage self – the one that lived in a different world, where attending a Queen concert was not an option; I reach out to that little girl who was a music fan for as long as she can remember. For many months of lockdowns and bad news, I have been avoiding these memories – it was too painful to think of live shows that we have lost. But recently hope came back to me, and I started thinking about that with sweet sadness and gratitude – it happened, I was there, and it was one of the most significant evenings of my life.

In 2019, I wrote an essay on the QAL concert in Toronto, trying to come up with words that would at least at some degree describe how I felt:

I keep on focusing on all these small details, at the same time struggling to find the proper words to describe this experience. I have been to many great shows, including some big names – and I have never ever felt such a powerful and intimate bond between the band and the audience. It really did not matter where you were sitting, in the first rows next to the stage or, like us, in the last rows under the ceiling. In fact, it became absolutely irrelevant after the first songs. We were ALL together, there was no distinction between us and them, between the performers and their listeners.

In fact, I knew back then – and I can repeat it now – that in our days this bond shines through the moments when Brian connects with the audience, especially during his acoustic set (in the Rhapsody Tour, it was Love of My Life / 39 / Doing Alright). When he sits in front of tens of thousands of people, talking to them in his soft voice, strumming his guitar, everybody feels as if he is addressing them personally. At our show, he said “this is when it all becomes very human” – and indeed, we were all together in remembering, grieving for Freddie, or happily singing along “39,” one of the most unforgettable moments of that show. Being familiar with Brian’s Instagram account, I can see a lot of similarities between his performance on stage and the style of his posts – having a huge number of followers, he is able to retain this connection with everyone that wants to talk to him; that’s why people are often so open and so personal in the comments section – everyone has a voice and a chance to be heard.

We all have our heroes – real and imaginary, living and those long gone. My hero is very real, and even though we have never met I regard him as my mentor. Dr. May taught me to look around and see the beauty of nature; he convinced me to embark on a stereoscopic journey that brought the whole new world to me; thanks to him, I finally got the courage to write in English; and thanks to his example, I decided to go completely meat-free. And what was really new to me as a fan (and as a person who had participated in different fandoms before) is his attention to all of us – in this world, everyone that loves his music and supports his deeds matters; Dr. May knows a lot of my friends, he recognizes their art and their creativity, and I think this is what makes this experience so unique. From the early years of Queen and the songs written by Brian for his fans to this day, when he calls his followers on Instagram “my people” – lies this energy of love and appreciation that for me will always distinguish him and Queen of all formations from other bands that I love. And for this, I want to thank him again and again. Happy Birthday, Dr. May, and let this love always surround you.

Katya Neklyudova (@katya.3d), 2021

Happy Birthday-2020

On Queen

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