Sonisphere organiser: ‘Fans shouldn’t expect a Freddie Mercury-style show when Queen play’

Stuart Galbraith also promises the festival will deliver 'a stronger, but broader' bill in 2012

Sonisphere festival organiser Stuart Galbraith has spoken about booking Queen and Adam Lambert for this summer’s event and has warned fans that if “they are looking for a Freddie Mercury show, then they aren’t going to get it”.

The rock legends and American Idol runner-up will headline the rock bash this summer along with Kiss and Faith No More, topping a bill that includes Refused, Marilyn Manson, Evanescence, Incubus, The Darkness, Mastodon and The Blackout. The festival will take place at Knebworth Park on July 6-8.

Speaking to NME about Queen’s show, Galbraith said that while he could understand people’s reservations about the set, he thought the band’s back catalogue was so strong it wouldn’t matter.

He said of this:

If people are looking for a Freddie Mercury show, then they aren’t going to get it, but I think the Queen songs are huge, I think they fit perfectly with the Knebworth environment and perfectly with Sonisphere. I think it’ll be one of the best performances we’ve seen from a headliner, it’s the only show in the world they’re doing. It’s a huge coup for us.

Galbraith also spoke about how he secured Queen for the festival and revealed that he contacted them the day after they performed at the MTV EMAs with Lambert and that the band took almost no persuading to do the show.

Asked how he went about booking Queen, Galbraith said: “I rang them the day after the MTV EMAs. I thought their performance with Adam that night was stunning and I literally rang them the following day. They weren’t hesitant at all. It was one of those calls that was at the right time. It was surprisingly straightforward. Knebworth has a very dear place in their hearts; it was the last place that Freddie ever sang with the band. It’s been 26 years since then and the idea of playing there again instantly struck a chord with them. They were into the idea right from the start.”

Galbraith also spoke about the rest of the bill and promised that it would improve on 2011, when the event sold out for the first time. He also said that the bill would be “broader” and that he and his team wanted to show that the event was “a rock festival not a metal festival”.

He said of this: “Last year was our first sell-out and we had a stunning bill. We always knew that the bill would take a good deal of matching, but I think with what we’ve announced and what we’ve got to come, it’s a stronger bill this year, but it is broader. We’ve always said from our inception that we’re a rock festival not a metal festival and with booking bands like Queen, Evanescence or The Darkness we’ve shown that we really mean that. We want to put on as broader a rock bill as we can.”

Galbraith also said that the festival’s next announcement would come next week. See for more information about the festival.

And to read a full report on Lambert joining Queen – including an exclusive interview with the singer – pick up the latest issue of NME, which is on UK newsstands and available digitally now.

To check the availability of Sonisphere tickets and get all the latest listings, go to NME.COM/TICKETS now, or call 0871 230 1094.

The Sonisphere Festival line-up so far is:

Faith No More
Tim Minchin
Andrew WK
The Blackout
Cypress Hill
Fields Of The Nephilim
Flogging Molly
I Killed The Prom Queen
Lacuna Coil
Marilyn Manson
The Darkness
Within Temptation