On Sunday 31st March 1974 an up-and-coming band called Queen made what is now considered a landmark recording at legendary London venue The Rainbow. Few who turned up for that iconic performance could have predicted they would go on to become one of the world’s best and most successful rock groups, although some in the audience may have suspected it after this stunning show.
Now everyone can experience just how brilliant it was, as the concert is to be made available on CD, Vinyl and standard DVD or SD Blu-Ray formats available as standard releases or special limited edition sets as well as digital formats, including over a dozen tracks never previously released on any official Queen live album.
That concert, being heard live for the first time in the soon to be released Queen: Live at the Rainbow ’74, marked the culmination of the band’s countrywide tour, their first as headliners – hot on the heels of a tour supporting Mott the Hoople, late in 1973, on which they were widely regarded as having blown the hit band off the stage. Queen got rave reviews, almost unheard of for a support band, and it was obvious that in future they would be top of the bill. The band’s momentum had been building since the release of their eponymous album in July 1973 and, following their success on the Mott tour, at the beginning of 1974 they were tipped as Band of the Year in UK music paper Disc and Music Echo.
Just before the March Rainbow gig, Queen performed their new single Seven Seas of Rhye on must-see UK TV music show Top of the Pops. The highly coveted slot was a lucky break – they filled in for an absent David Bowie, who was unavailable – and the band made the most of it, delivering a thrilling performance that pushed the song into the Top 10.
Although the group now had a first hit single under its belt, and second album Queen II had just been released to critical acclaim, many felt that playing The Rainbow was overambitious. It was the premier London venue of the time, on a par with L.A.’s Palladium and New York’s Fillmore East. But the band had paid its dues, slugging it out in clubs and college halls for four years, and never doubting their own potential. The band’s confidence was vindicated when the venue quickly sold out the capacity of more than 3,000 seats – with some fans paying as much as £1.20 for a ticket!
Queen’s performance was spectacular from the second that Freddie Mercury strutted onto the stage in his soon to become trademark white “eagle suit”, a tight -fitting number specially made for him by top fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, which featured flowing winged sleeves. He pranced and posed, capturing the audience in seconds with his extraordinary voice and stage presence, while Brian May provided the counterpoint with his remarkable and ground-breaking guitar playing. The powerful “engine room” (as they liked to call it) of drummer Roger Taylor and bass player John Deacon completed a sound unlike anything British audiences had previously heard. Enraptured fans clapped and cheered, and gave the band a standing ovation.
That electrifying show was recorded by Roy Thomas Baker, co-producer of Queen’s first four studio albums, and slated to be the band’s third album (and debut live album) – a career defining release like James Brown’s Live At The Apollo or The Who’s Live At Leeds. Intended to be a recording that captured the magic of a live band firing on all cylinders, Queen: Live at the Rainbow ’74 would undoubtedly have been a big success. But Queen’s ferocious creative momentum produced a stack of new songs begging to be recorded and instead of releasing the live album the band went into the studio to record what was to become 1974’s breakthrough album, Sheer Heart Attack. As a result the already completed Rainbow live album was shelved and consigned to the archives.
Later in 1974 Queen had their first chart-topping single, Killer Queen, which encapsulated their brand of driving rock and clever lyrics. It appeared on Sheer Heart Attack, which was released in the autumn, was a massive hit and remains to this day many fans’ favourite Queen album. To celebrate this success and crown a remarkable year, Queen returned to The Rainbow in November 1974 for two sell-out gigs that were even more spectacular than the one in March. These concerts included the typically flamboyant performance of Now I’m Here with which they had been wowing audiences on the tour. It featured Freddie apparently appearing in a spotlight on opposite sides of the stage almost simultaneously. The concerts received massive acclaim from fans and critics alike, and won over many who had until then doubted the band’s potential. In this year, Queen also undertook their first concerts in Australia, USA, Sweden, Finland, Holland, Belgium and Spain.
Now, a remarkable 40 years later, Queen: Live at the Rainbow ’74 has finally surfaced from the archives, providing an invaluable record of emerging superstars demonstrating their talent.
Queen, Virgin Records and Eagle Rock Entertainment are proud to announce that Queen: Live at the Rainbow ‘74 will be released on 8th September 2014 (UK on Virgin Records) and 9th September 2014 (US through Hollywood Records) in a variety of formats all newly mixed and mastered to the highest contemporary standard. These range from a standard two CD package, a DVD, an SD Blu-ray, a gate-fold double vinyl (including an audio reproduction of the aforementioned original live album), a quadruple vinyl boxed set, to a super deluxe collector’s edition. This comprehensive and fascinating package includes two CDs, a DVD and Blu-Ray, a 60 page hardback book containing many rare photographs, and various items of memorabilia such as reproductions of the tickets, show souvenir programme and poster, as well as material from the band members’ personal archives. (Full details of the various packages which will be released can be found at the end of this release). Vinyl and super deluxe formats are released as limited editions.
These recordings capture Queen at that time in all their glory: the dramatic stage presence, the highly original self-penned repertoire of songs, high-energy performances coupled with stunning melodic and harmonic content, and the uncompromising perfectionist approach to every aspect of their performance which is still maintained to this day.
Queen dazzled their audiences in 1974 with an unforgettable show delivered with a skill and confidence which belied their youth. The tape machines were rolling, capturing the highly electric performances. Now, to mark the 40th anniversary of these legendary shows, here, finally, is Queen: Live at the Rainbow ’74 – lovingly restored, edited, mixed and digitally mastered, and including much footage never previously seen. It is a collection every Queen fan will want to possess.
Queen will be touring North America, Asia and Australia this summer with virtuoso vocalist Adam Lambert. The tour kicks off June 19th at Chicago’s United Centre. Tour dates and ticket information can be found at queenonline.com.