A Day At The Bristol (Breakdown-119A/B)
Hippodrome, Bristol, England – May 23rd, 1977
Disc 1: Opening, Tie Your Mother Down, Ogre Battle, White Queen, Somebody To Love, medley: Killer Queen / Good Old Fashioned Love Boy / The Millionaire Waltz / You’re My Best Friend / Bring Back That Leroy Brown, Death On Two Legs, Sweet Lady, Brighton Rock
Disc 2: ’39, You Take My Breath Away, White Man / Prophet’s Song, Bohemian Rhapsody, Keep Yourself Alive, Stone Cold Crazy, In The Lap Of The Gods…Revisited, Now I’m Here, Liar, I’m a Man, Jailhouse Rock, God Save The Queen
A Day At The Bristol contains the complete tape from Queen’s first date in the UK on the Day At The Races tour. Three other shows exist on tape including May 30th Glasgow (released on Gypsy Eye on A Day At The Apollo (GE-145/146)), June 3rd Liverpool and the soundboard recording for June 6th at Earl’s Court released both in audio and video many times. The sound quality for the Bristol tape is clear but distant and lacking in significant detail. The audience sings and claps along to many of the song obscuring the action on stage although that is actually a plus for a Queen show which relies upon heavy audience participation to be effective. A small cut during “Brighton Rock” is the only cut on the tape which is otherwise complete and becomes enjoyable once the ears adjust. This tour is significant because it marks the transition between the elaborate production Queen of the mid-seventies and the more stripped down band on News Of The World. Many numbers from Queen II like “Ogre Battle” and “White Queen” would be dropped to never surface again. “You Take My Breath Away” from the new album was performed only on this tour and is a good touch although the sparse arrangement in the live setting strips the song of any of its power.
Most of the fun songs from A Day At The Races are played early in the show during the medley. “Killer Queen” is the first song followed by “Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy” (with Freddie again forgetting some words) and “The Millionaire Waltz”. “Bring Back That Leroy Brown” with May playing the ukulele is the final song as it has in previous tours. “Death On Two Legs” is introduced by Freddie as a song “we’ve only just introduced to the set about a nasty old soul”. It is played as an independent number and is one of the few times one can hear the second verse. Before “Sweet Lady” Freddie says “This next song is dedicated to all the beautiful ladies in the audience tonight..” and a male voice from the audience shouts “Thank you Freddie!!” Many consider that song to be the weakest on A Night At The Opera but it works very well in a live environment and it is a shame it never appeared again. “White Man” paired with “The Prophet’s Song” gives May two solo set pieces in the concert along with “Brighton Rock”. On previous tours “Bohemian Rhapsody” was divided into two or three sections scattered throughout the concert but is played as a single song on this tour for the first time. “In The Lap Of The Gods…Revisited” is the set closer.
“Now I’m Here”, one of their hits from Sheer Heart Attack, is the first encore followed by an eleven-minute version of “Liar”. “I’m A Man” by Muddy Waters makes a rare appearance as an encore. Some collectors have discussed whether or not they Queen every played Bo Diddley’s “Mannish Boy” but is almost impossible to tell since they are essentially the same song with the very similar lyrics. “Jailhouse Rock” closes the event before the taped “God Save The Queen” plays with the audience singing along. Breakdown, a label by the same people behind Blue Cafe, have been releasing Queen titles at a furious pace and are the only real option for collectors right now. Gypsy Eye is MIA and Wardour have been on a Jeff Beck binge of late. The photos on the front and back are actually very clear but the inserts are printed on only one side with very thin paper. They use silver cdrs but with glued on paper labels. Labels like Sirene and Trial print the info on the actual discs and the jury is still out about the longevity of productions like this. However Breakdown didn’t use EQ on the tape leaving it imperfect yet listenable. There are also too few releases from Queen’s UK tour for A Day At The Races so this release, if it can be found at a reasonable price, is worth seeking out. (GS)