Long Beach Arena 1977 1st Night Mike Millard Master Tapes (Wardour-455)
Long Beach Arena, Long Beach, CA, USA – December 20, 1977
Disc 1 (58:13) Intro, We Will Rock You (slow), We Will Rock You (fast), Brighton Rock, Somebody To Love, Death On Two Legs, Killer Queen, Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy, I’m In Love With My Car, Get Down Make Love, The Millionaire Waltz, You’re My Best Friend, Liar, Love Of My Life, ’39, My Melancholy Blues
Disc 2 (55:04) White Man, The Prophet’s Song, Guitar Solo, The Prophet’s Song (reprise), Now I’m Here, Stone Cold Crazy, Bohemian Rhapsody, Keep Yourself Alive, Tie Your Mother Down, We Will Rock You, We Are The Champions, Sheer Heart Attack, Jailhouse Rock, God Save The Queen
Mike the MIC must have been suitably impressed with his first Queen show the previous March 3, 1977 at the famed L.A. Forum, so much he would record them nine months later at a different venue, the Long Beach Arena. Two Queen concerts in the same year on two different tours, the March concert was in support of A Day At The Races, this new one would be for News Of The World. The latter was the subject of The Lost and Found Mike the MICrophone Series Vol. 64 and also the subject of the new release from Wardour.
Mike’s good friend Jim R did not attend this show and there is no documentation that gives us any ideas on where Mike was but was most certainly in his sweet spot as this recording is excellent, perfect mix of instruments and vocals with a full range of frequencies. The clarity is what we expect from a Millard tape, this is an extremely detailed recording that captures the performance and atmosphere perfectly. Like usual I am including notes from the original torrent, shorter than usual but informative nonetheless:
Queen, Long Beach Arena, Long Beach, CA, December 20, 1977
To wrap up a most difficult year for all, we wanted liberate a couple of very special recordings from the Millard archive. The first of which, Queen’s triumphant return to Southern California in late 1977, certainly fits the bill. This December show was the second time Millard recorded the band, so we can assume (and Jim R confirms) that both he and Mike were quite taken with the first concert they saw in March, which we released as Vol. 19 in our series.
With the release of their new album News of the World, Queen came back to town for three special SoCal holiday shows, this being the first night. Once again Mike delivers an outstanding capture, comparable with his March recording in terms of clarity and closeness. The setlist boasts several changes from that show as well, including the additions of “We Will Rock You,” “We Are The Champions,” “Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy,” “I’m In Love With My Car,” “Get Down, Make Love,” “Sheer Heart Attack” and a couple of others.
This concert was the first of two nights in Long Beach at the 14,500 seat Long Beach Arena. Mike certainly knew the venue well and this recording certainly benefits from his experience…and excellent equipment. The recording begins with a a short bit of crowd noise then a pre recorded intro tape of We Will Rock You is played…thump, thump, drum to build the anticipation even more before the band takes the stage ripping into a fast version of We Will Rock You. This song would be used as an excellent opener for the next few tours. Brighton Rock is an interesting choice for second song, I was reading a Pink Floyd web page documenting the echo delay system employed by Gilmour and Brian May that is on full display here.
One key ingredient to the Queen sound, especially their live sound is the backing vocals of Roger Taylor, they are on full display for Somebody To Love and while completely different tone to Freddie’s, complement his perfectly. The medley section gets a few new songs added, the first being the excellent Death On Two Legs from the A Night At The Opera record. The band also tackle I’m In Love With My Car from the same record, Roger handles all vocals, another highlight is Get Down Make Love played with incredible swagger. The long medley ends with a great You’re My Best Friend. Liar is a blast from the past, the early Queen songs are being slowly replaced by newer songs. Liar fits in well, the middle section gets a nice almost funky jam to it. Roger’s drums have a nice punch to them and the song is a great bit of Rock and Roll just before a short, and well received acoustic set.
Freddie announces something “Heavier”, someone shouts Ogre Battle and he reply’s “Maybe latter” and introduces Brian May’s White Man. Certainly one of Queen’s heaviest song, Millard’s recording captures the power of the band perfectly from the bombast of the rhythm section to the simple yet complex Brian May guitar playing. The song evolves into the echoed guitar and eventually leads into The Prophet Song. Queen goes into attack mode for the rest of the concert, Now I’m Here segues into Stone Cold Crazy, Bohemian Rhapsody raises the performance up a notch and Keep Yourself Alive is full on party mode. We Will Rock You is played traditionally and the pause into We Are The Champions features a deep applause from the audience and brings the drama back into the show. What better way to end the concert with a blistering version of Elvis’ Jailhouse Rock, John Deacon’s bass is well represented here and while I have said little about him in this review, his playing has been typically excellent. The band exits as God Save The Queen is played over the PA system…indeed!
The packaging is typical for Wardour, live shots and official graphics featuring the News Of The World album cover. A dramatic shot of Freddie in his harlequin body suit adorns the back and the CDs themselves, the numbered sticker features the News robot. The excellent Queen Live site states that this recording is “unparalleled for an audience tape, literally every note is heard”, I can only agree that this tape deserves repeated listenings and a nice loud volume is preferred!