Legendary Christmas Concert 1975 (no label)
Hammersmith Odeon, London, England – December 24th, 1975
(approx. 74 minutes): Introduction, Old Grey Whistle Test Intro., Introduction by Bob Harris, Now I’m Here, Ogre Battle, White Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (verses), Killer Queen, The March Of The Black Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody (reprise), Bring Back That Leroy Brown, Brighton Rock, Son And Daughter, Keep Yourself Alive, Liar, In The Lap Of The Gods…Revisited, waiting for encore, Hey Big Spender, Jailhouse Rock, Stupid Cupid, Be Bop A Lula, Jailhouse Rock (reprise), Seven Seas Of Rhye, See What A Fool I’ve Been, God Save The Queen
Queen’s legendary Hammersmimth Odeon show on Christmas Eve 1975 is one of the best recorded and dynamic early shows available. It occurs a month after A Night At The Opera was released and soon after it hit number one and was video taped for The Old Grey Whistle Test hosted by Bob Harris for BBC television.
Most of the show was taped, but the BBC cameras were turned off when Queen came back onstage after the “Jailhouse Rock” encore to play a few more songs. The cameramen couldn’t capture this part of the show so after thirty-five years it remains unseen.
There have been countless audio titles with the telecast. The better editions to have combine the telecast soundtrack with the BBC radio recording of the final encores “Seven Seas Of Rhye” and “See What A Fool I’ve Been,” both of which were not videotaped. Gypsy Eye issued a version on White Queen Night (GE-134) and Godfather on A Very Special Christmas – The Definitive Edition (Godfather GF 212/213).
There have been several video releases of this footage. The encore rock and roll medley can be found on the 1989 VHS release Rare Live: A Concert Through Time And Space. The complete sixty-four minute broadcast can also be found on Christmas Eve At Hammersmith (Room 101 Entertainment ROOM101012) released on silver DVD in 2003 and on the DVDR title Christmas Concert(Footstomp FSVD-014).
Legendary Christmas Concert 1975 on no label contains a recent BBC re-telecast with a new introduction by Bob Harris and the missing portions of the show restored. Unfortunately the BBC have not found the missing footage (although there are rumors that one camera was still running), but instead used the radio broadcast set to still photographs from the gig along with running commentary.
The opening tape containing an orchestra tuning, Kenny Everett speaking and the operatic middle to “Bohemian Rhapsody” is dropped (or at least doesn’t appear on the extant tapes) and the opening number is not “Ogre Battle” but “Now I’m Here.”
The Sheer Heart Attack number was used as the first encore on the tour but the band may have bumped it to the first song because it was a minor hit and they perhaps wanted to begin the show with a more familiar song. In addition to this change, three songs, “Sweet Lady,” “Flick Of The Wrist,” and “Stone Cold Crazy” were dropped altogether.
“Now I’m Here” is played straight with no embellishments as it would be later on in their live career, but since it is a mid-tempo rocker it lacks excitement. “It looks really pretty here tonight…we’re now gonna take you to the battlefield” before an exciting version of “Ogre Battle.”
Even without the visual there is tremendous energy being supplied, but the video looks great with Freddie throwing imaginary flash bombs on stage and the primitive, yet effective light show. After “Ogre Battle” Freddie says, “Right now Queen would like to drink a special toast to everybody here, all the viewers. So cheers!”
That he actually says “Christmas toast” to “everybody here, all the viewers” is edited out of the radio broadcast. The second edit is very awkward and raises questions why it was done in the first place. “White Queen (As It Began)” is introduced as “a delicate little number” and is followed by a “tasty little medley.” This piece represents Queen’s first compromise in bringing their biggest hit to the stage with the unplayable operatic middle section by omitting the middle and using the beginning and end as bookends of a medley.
“Killer Queen” was their previous biggest hit and was always played as part of a medley. “The March Of The Black Queen” is itself a multi-sectioned piece with only the final heavy section appearing live onstage, and Freddie’s mic cuts out at the very beginning of that piece. There is an obvious cut before “Bring Back That Leroy Brown” and it is played as a short instrumental except for “my cutie pie” in the middle and “bring bad Leroy back…I want him back.”
Brian May’s solo spot follow with a nine-minute version of “Brighton Rock.” The guitar solo seems to hint at the Girls Scout song “The More We Get Together” before the song segues into the final verse of “Son & Daughter.”
Freddie encourages everybody to sing along in the choruses during “Keep Yourself Alive” and continues by saying, “give us a helping hand, you can take your clothes off.” Before “Liar” Freddie says, “And now a special edition of a little number called ‘Liar.'” The fact it is really a “special Christmas edition” is edited from this tape.
Roger has a heavy drum workout in the song’s introduction and Freddie comes in a bit too early for the final verse. Brian acknowledges the party atmosphere and thanks the audience before the set’s closer “In The Lap Of The Gods…Revisited.” Before the rock and roll medley Taylor says, “Thanks for a fab year. We’re gonna do some rock and roll.” His Christmas greeting is edited out. The video reveals him wearing a rainbow colored wig during this part of the show and Freddie wearing a kimono.
“Seven Seas Of Rhye” is introduced as something they forgot to play in the regular set and the music ends with “See What A Fool I’ve Been,” one of their few effective blues numbers.
Any Queen collector will say this is one of Queen’s greatest performances and beautifully documented concerts. It is unrivaled as glimpse of the band right when they became superstars and because of this is a title that is definitely worth having.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)