Standing On The Arena (Gypsy Eye GE-135/136)
Wembley Arena, London, England – December 8th, 1980
Disc 1 (56:28): Introduction, Jailhouse Rock, We Will Rock You (fast), Let Me Entertain You, Play The Game, Mustapha, Death On Two Legs, Killer Queen, I’m In Love With My Car, Get Down Make Love, Need Your Loving Tonight, Save Me, Now I’m Here (including Dragon Attack), Fat Bottomed Girls
Disc 2 (53:15): Love Of My Life, Keep Yourself Alive (including drum and guitar solo), Flash, The Hero, Brighton Rock (End), Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Bohemian Rhapsody, We Will Rock You (slow), We Are The Champions, Another One Bites The Dust, Sheer Heart Attack, Tie Your Mother Down, God Save The Queen
When Queen released The Game in the summer of 1980, it turned out to be the apex of their career. The LP peaked at number one in seven different countries and produced several number one singles. With a basic rockabilly “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and the funk-dance track “Another One Bites The Dust” both being number one in the US proves that Queen were the most versatile and eclectic of all the major rock bands.
Queen’s US tour was their biggest to date and by the time they began their European tour in Zürich they had just released their latest single “Flash” with “Football Fight” on the b-side. Standing On The Arena documents the first of three sold out shows at the Wembley Arena on the day their second album of the year, the soundtrack to Flash Gordon, was released in the UK.
The tape is a little bit distant but very clear and enjoyable. It is same source used for the 2LP release Flash Alive and Gypsy Eye is thus far the only silver pressed release of what can be argued is the definitive live statement of the era. There are minor cuts after “Save Me,” the end of the guitar solo and around the encores but nothing is lost. opening notes of “Tie Your Mother Down” cut
Queen make the unusual and daring decision to open these show with a cover of “Jailhouse Rock” before the double blast of the late seventies openers, the fast version of “We Will Rock You” and “Let Me Entertain You.”
Things slow down a bit with “Play The Game.” None of the live arrangements has the synthesizer swoops in the introduction and before the guitar solo as the studio version does. That arrangement sounds more like a gimmick anyway and the sound is much better in the live setting.
Before “Mustapha” Freddie says, “It’s fucking freezing in this auditorium especially for all those people in the back. But we’ll get your asses on fire in a minute, don’t worry. We’re gonna do something in Arabic right now and for those of you who speak it you can join in.” This is the beginning of a long medley with includes the first three verses of “Death On Two Legs,” “Killer Queen” (in which Freddie sings “perfume comes naturally from Paris” in a French accent and pronouncing Paris correctly), “I’m In Love With My Car” and finally “Get Down Make Love.”
John Deacon’s “Need Your Love Tonight” is a nice diversion, occupying the same spot as his older song “You’re My Best Friend” in set in previous tours. Freddie introduces Brian on the piano for “Save Me” and engages in a strange conversation with someone in the audience, saying “What did you say in belching? I’ll turn you into a frog if you don’t watch it.”
Freddie continues before “Fat Bottomed Girls” by asking, “You girls like this moustache? Any of the boys like the moustache? Many people don’t like but I don’t give a fuck…I’m gonna keep it.” He responds to an audience request, “We’re gonna do that one, yes. You shut up! You keep out of this! We’re gonna do as he says, by the way. This is a dirty little number, and we’ve ah…you shut up as well. What is this!? You wanna come up and sing it? C’mon! It’s all about tits and bums as you know. It’s called ‘Fat Bottomed Girls.'”
May takes his turn introducing “Love Of My Life” by mentioning how cold it is in the arena. “Well, I hope you’re all warming up a little by now. It feels like it. Some time ago we made a live album in which most of you actually participated. Do you remember that? We’d like to hear your tonsils again.”
But his set piece is the long improvisation in “Keep Yourself Alive.” Roger Taylor plays a loud tympani solo, sounding as if he’s trying to summon the ogre from his sleep with May following with long drones before his heavy metal clinic. This segues into their latest single “Flash” with May switching to the synthesizer.
“Flash” is segued with “The Hero” with what sounds like a soundbite from the film playing on the PA. This portion would be expanded to include “The Battle” and “Vulcan’s Theme” when they toured Japan in a few months. The encores are switched around a bit with “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions” being played first.
“Another One Bites The Dust” sounds very close to the studio track and “Sheer Heart Attack” sounds very energetic. The final song of the night is “Tie Your Mother Down” and the final “God Save The Queen.”
Standing On The Arena is one of the best recorded dates from the tour and is one of Gypsy Eye’s best productions. They didn’t play with the tape too much allowing the natural timbre to shine through.