Long time Queen fans have been patiently waiting for many, many years for an official release of the bands legendary 1974 concert recording at London's Rainbow Theater. Still an up and coming band, Queen had just finished a tour supporting Mott the Hoople, and on the heels of their third release Sheer Heart Attack were undertaking their first tour as headliners, with these stops at the Rainbow (in March & November of that year) recorded for a live album that never materialized officially, until now. So, for all those who have viewed grainy YouTube videos or purchased poor bootleg VHS or DVD copies over the years, these historic live shows from before Queen became one of the biggest bands of all time, are available in CD, vinyl, digital, standard DVD and SD Blu-ray formats. This review here covers the SD Blu-ray release.
First, let me just say that Eagle Rock did a fantastic job on the transfer here. Both the video & the audio quality are just superb, especially considering how old the source material is. Video is presented in 1080i Widescreen format, damn near close to high definition as something of this vintage can get. It's stunning actually just how good the picture looks. Audio is DTS HD Master Audio 96/24 & LPCM Stereo 96/24, and again, sounds spectacular. If you have a decent home theater set-up, this Blu-ray will really thrive and let you experience the early Queen live show as it was intended. The entire November concert is included in its entirety, and it's an eye popping experience from start to finish. For anyone who hasn't fully investigated Queen and casually just assumes that they were a mega selling pop band, you are really missing out on those great early years. Songs from the stellar first three albums are given royal treatment here, and I can't stress enough just how HEAVY these songs are. Queen in the early/mid '70s combined glam with heavy metal/hard rock like no other, and tunes like "Ogre Battle", "Liar", "Keep Yourself Alive", "Son and Daughter", "Stone Cold Crazy", "Modern Times Rock 'n' Roll", "Father to Son", and "The March of the Black Queen" are as heavy as anything else from that time period, the band saddling up right next to Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple with some of the heaviest sounds of the era. Brian May's guitar riffs are thunderous, and Freddie Mercury prowls the stage like a dark, menacing cat of the night, just a few years before his full blown, flamboyant stage persona really started to take flight. Roger Taylor & John Deacon provide some serious bottom end here (both are really underrated players), driving tunes like "Now I'm Here", "Seven Seas of Rhye", and "In the Lap of the Gods...Revisited" to serious heights. All four are still in their 'long hair, robes, sequins, and platform shoes' phase, so it's a full glam/metal extravaganza.
From the earlier March performance, only two songs seem to have survived, the crushing "Son and Daughter" complete with Brian May guitar solo, and the raging metal of "Modern Times Rock 'n' Roll". This footage is quite grainy and rough, shot from the sides of the stage as opposed to the pro-shot of the November concert, but is still quite powerful. The CD version actually contains the full show in audio.
I just can't say enough of how great this set is. We've all seen the Live at Wembley concert plenty of times, which showcased the band in all their glory in the '80s, but this fabulous footage from a decade earlier reveals a young, hungry band that could rock it out with the best of them. Highest recommendations here.
Live at the Rainbow, November '74
2. 'Now I'm Here'
3. 'Ogre Battle'
4. 'Father to Son'
5. 'White Queen (As It Began)'
6. 'Flick of the Wrist'
7. 'In the Lap of the Gods'
8. 'Killer Queen'
9. 'The March of the Black Queen'
10. 'Bring Back That Leroy Brown'
11. 'Son and Daughter'
12. 'Guitar Solo'
13. 'Son and Daughter (Reprise)'
14. 'Keep Yourself Alive'
15. 'Drum Solo'
16. 'Keep Yourself Alive (Reprise)'
17. 'Seven Seas of Rhye'
18. 'Stone Cold Crazy'
20. 'In the Lap of the Gods. . . Revisited'
21. 'Big Spender'
22. 'Modern Times Rock 'n' Roll'
23. 'Jailhouse Rock'
24. 'God Save the Queen'
Bonus Tracks: Live at the Rainbow, March '74
1. 'Son and Daughter'
2. 'Guitar Solo'
3. 'Son and Daughter (Reprise)'
4. 'Modern Times Rock 'n' Roll'