Carnival At The Court (Master Stroke FFMS-005A/B/C)
Earls Court, London, England – June 6th, 1977
Disc 1 (67:09): Procession, Tie Your Mother Down, Ogre Battle, White Queen, Somebody To Love, Killer Queen, Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy, The Millionaire Waltz, You’re My Best Friend, Bring Back That Leroy Brown, Death On Two Legs, Doing Alright, Brighton Rock, ‘39, You Take My Breath Away
Disc 2 (65:12): White Man, The Prophet’s Song, Bohemian Rhapsody, Keep Yourself Alive, Stone Cold Crazy, In The Lap Of The Gods…Revisited, Now I’m Here, Liar, Rock n Roll medley (Lucille, Jailhouse Rock, Saturday Night’s Alright, Stupid Cupid), God Save The Queen. Bonus tracks, Earls Court, London, England – June 7th, 1977: Killer Queen, Rock and Roll medley, God Save The Queen
DVD (approx. 128 minutes): Procession, Tie Your Mother Down, Ogre Battle, White Queen, Somebody To Love, Killer Queen, Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy, The Millionaire Waltz, You’re My Best Friend, Bring Back That Leroy Brown, Death On Two Legs, Doing All Right, Brighton Rock, ‘39, You Take My Breath Away, White Man, The Prophet’s Song, Bohemian Rhapsody, Keep Yourself Alive, Stone Cold Crazy, In The Lap Of The Gods…Revisited, Now I’m Here, Liar, Rock and Roll medley (Lucille, Jailhouse Rock, Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting, Stupid Cupid). Bonus tracks, Earls Court, London, England – June 7th, 1977: Killer Queen, Rock and Roll medley, God Save The Queen
In the early seventies Earls Court was christened to be the pinnacle of arenas for rock performances in London with Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and, Genesis all booking the venue. Queen ended the long and fruitful tour for A Day At The Races with two shows, on June 6th and June 7th. For the event the band paid £50,000 on a new lighting rig, the famous giant crown, measuring 25 feet tall by 54 feet wide and weighing two tons.
Queen’s two shows at Earls Court the summer 1977 were their biggest and (arguably) most important in England up to that point. The band knew it and recorded and filmed them for the possibility for an official live LP and film. Unfortunately the mic problems in “Tie Your Mother Down” and “Ogre Battle” nixed that plan.
A high, dull sounding generation first surfaced on a silver title in 1994 on A Night At The Court (TNT 007/8), missing “Doin’ Alright” and “Keep Yourself Alive,” and on The Prophet’s Queen on Gypsy Eye (GE-050/051).
In 2002 a new, better version of the video surfaced with a much more clear and powerful generation of the soundboard tape. It was pressed on A Day At The Court (Wardour-021) in 2005, and the video was given definitive release on DVD on Earls Court 1977: Definitive Edition (no label).
Carnival At The Court follows other releases on Master Stroke, the new Queen dedicated silver label, by presenting the definitive package for the Earls Court performances. It has the soundboard recording on two audio discs and the video on one DVD, both in as good quality as the older releases. The label also includes a short fragment from the June 6th show, ever before available on discs, with “Killer Queen,” the rock and roll medley and “God Save The Queen.” The sound is very good and the visuals are fair.
This is a joyful, ebullient concert and both Freddie and Brian May acknowledge its significance. “Thank you for coming to the first show in London for a long time. This is a right carnival in the front,” Freddie says before an emotional version of “White Queen.”
The concert begins with the Queen II “Procession.” Although it was abandoned several years before, it was revived only for these two shows before disappearing again forever. ”Procession” segues into the A Day At The Races music before the band come on stage with “Tie Your Mother Down.” Freddie’s vocals cut out several times throughout the song and is followed immediately with “Ogre Battle.”
Afterwards Freddie thanks the crowd and asks: “This is the right carnival, isn’t it? Did you see in the front? I shall have to have a look at it tomorrow, right?” Queen play “White Queen,” a song that has been a constant in the set for three years, for the penultimate time. It would appear in the following night’s show and then be dropped.
The medley on this tour starts with “Killer Queen” in which perfume came “naturally from London,” runs through two Freddie songs from the new album and ends with ”Bring Back That Leroy Brown” (like “White Queen” making it’s penultimate appearance ever in a Queen show).
Before “Brighton Rock” Freddie claims he was going to make a long speech, “but forget it. Cheers! Have champagne for breakfast tomorrow.” He introduces the song which features “a very well-known fireplace that hangs around Mr. May’s neck.” May’s solo is very long with bits of “Frère Jacques” and “Three Blind Mice” in the improvisation.
The heavy metal extravaganza is followed by the only acoustic song of the night “‘39.” The band line up at the front of the stage including Roger Taylor with bass drum and tambourine. On the next tour it would be expanded with “Love Of My Life” and would grow even longer on the Jazz tour. Instead, it’s followed by Freddie’s solo piece “You Take My Breath Away.”
An amplifier blows up in the middle, startling the singer, but he continues without a beat. Afterwards he jokes “maybe next time we will bring back an orchestra, bring with us an orchestra, what you think? Costs more money. I really feel like been evil tonight.”
The next big extravaganza is the long “White Man” / “The Prophet’s Song” medley. Freddie tells the audience before hand that “every night that we’ve done the song, these two songs on the tour, they seem to getting better every night, depending on the practice of course. But it really depends on the audience as well. Now, you’ve been a bit cool and sophisticated up to now, but get your asses going, ok? We can all be nice and cool, but I mean you’ve got to give out some time.” Despite the absurdity of the topic of the songs, it is an exciting live piece with Freddie’s vocal gymnastics.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” is played, as it would be for the rest of their career, with the band leaving the stage for the opera section. This was the first tour where they did that and not divide the piece throughout the show.
“In The Lap Of The Gods…Revisited” makes one of its final appearances as the final number this night, and the encores include “Now I’m Here,’ “Liar,” and a rock medley which incorporates Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s All Right For Fighting.”
This is one of Queen’s landmark performances and one of the essentials for the collection. Carnival At The Court is a nice compilation made relevant by the additional twelve minutes of footage not found anywhere else. It’s packaged in a standard fatboy jewel case with photographs from the event. And given the logic of these guys, we could probably expect to see definitive editions of Hyde Park ’76 and Houston ’77 eventually released.