Prayers For The Races (Wardour-059)
Apollo Theatre, Glasgow, UK – May 30th, 1977
Disc 1 (56:35): A Day At The Races overture, 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, Sweet Lady, Brighton Rock
Disc 2 (59:16): ’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, I’m A Man, Jailhouse Rock, God Save The Queen
For several years, in writing A Night At The Opera and its cousin A Day At The Races, they were focused upon elaborate productions, multi-layered tracks and bizarre arrangements that were revolutionary at the time. The May 30th Glasgow show occurs right at the cusp of another rethinking in artistic direction. Having taken complex as far as they could, they would soon strip down their sound for more arena-rock friendly arrangements. A germ was planted the previous evening at Bingley Hall in Stafford when the enthusiastic audience spontaneously sung “You’ll Never Walk Alone” giving Brian May the idea to write “We Will Rock You,” a song whose purpose to inspire audience participation.
This show in Glasgow is considered to be one of the legendary Queen concerts. Glasgow audiences are famous for forcing bands to rise to the occasion and deliver stellar performances and Queen don’t disappoint with a tight, energetic and charismatic performance. The tape used was first pressed on silver many years ago on A Day At The Apollo (Gypsy Eye GE 145/146). The sound is a bit distant but very clear and enjoyable. Gypsy Eye used a tape that had intentional cuts in “Keep Yourself Alive” and cut out during “Jailhouse Rock” eliminating “God Save The Queen.” Wardour use the same tape but also a second generation copy sounding a bit more dull to fill in the twenty second gap in “Keep Yourself Alive” from 1:06 to 1:26 and cuts in again 1:28 into “Jailhouse Rock” offering the final four minutes of and “God Save The Queen.” The edits are competent (except for the when the lower generation cuts back in “Keep Yourself Alive” which is very abrupt). The virtue is that Wardour offer, for the first time on silver, the complete show.
The album’s regal opening fanfare is played over the PA before they hit the stage with “Tie Your Mother Down,” following the album’s sequence. The new song segues into the older “Ogre Battle” and Freddie greets the audience, saying, “Thank you, good evening everybody! Are you all ready for rock and roll tonight! We’re gonna give it to you. It’s great to be back in Glasgow thank you for such a lovely welcome. We have a lot of music to play for you tonight…a lot of the heavier stuff and some of the quieter stuff.” Brian May plays a tremendous solo in “White Queen,” the first of many over the two hour show which Glasgow loudly acknowledges. “That is a song off of Queen II. Do you remember that? this is a more recent song from A Day At The Races and was released as a single.” They play “Somebody To Love,” omitting the opening chorus and starting with the piano melody right before the first verse. On later tours Freddie would sing the beginning.
The medley includes songs from the last three albums starting with “Killer Queen.” Perfume comes “naturally from Glasgow” and they play through the guitar solo before going into “Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy.” “The Millionaire Waltz” is one of their most adventurous songs and the transition into “You’re My Best Friend” is rather abrupt. “Bring Back That Leroy Brown” had been the closing number in the medley for several years up to this point and would be dropped after this tour. This is one of the last times they ever played it live. “You want something light or something heavy?” Freddie asked afterwards. The overwhelming vote is for the heavy. “We know you too well” he quips before intorducting “Death On Two Legs” as something “just recently included to the set…We’ll do ‘Liar’ as well” Freddie says in response to a request. The entire song is played and in later tours, when it would introduce the medley, it would be shortened.
‘Sweet Lady” is played for the final known time in this show and “Brighton Rock” is more than fourteen minutes long. It contains an interesting May solo where he sustains the notes contrasts the heavy with the light, delicate and bizarre. The solo approaches what he’ll do later in “Get Down, Make Love” written later that year and ends with a bit of “Son And Daughter” before going into the final verse. It’s a great performance and one of the best captured on tape.
“’39” is the first tentative step towards having a full blown acoustic set that many bands would be doing at this time. “You Take My Breath Away” features Freddie alone at the piano and although sweet lacks the mystery of the studio version including the frightening coda at the end, no way to duplicate that on stage. They play a melding of May’s two giant compositions from the latest two albums. “White Man” (the juvenile meditation on the American Indian) leads into Freddie’s vocal games before segueing into the finale of “The Prophet’s Song.” “Keep Yourself Alive” and “Stone Cold Crazy” are delivered at a furious pace before the show slows for “In The Lap Of The Gods…Revisited.” The encore section is interesting for the rare performance of Bo Diddley’s “I’m A Man” (in contrast to Muddy Waters’ cover “Mannish Boy” released two months after the original). This is one of the best Queen concerts and having it on silver complete makes this a tremendous release on Wardour.