Queen roared through Europe In the spring of 1978 in support of their sixth studio album News Of The World. When they arrived back in London, they reached a new milestone. Their last dates in the capital had seen the band play two nights in June 1977 at Earls Court. But this time they were ready to make their Wembley Arena debut.
On May 11, a few weeks after their “We Are The Champions” anthem had gone platinum in America, Queen played their first of three consecutive nights at the venue, which was then in its final year of being known as the Empire Pool.
In February of that year, Queen had had their least successful single since they first made the UK charts in 1974. “Spread Your Wings,” the John Deacon composition from News Of The World, had reached only No.34. An edited version of “It’s Late” from the same LP was released as an American single and only managed No.74.
But the band’s credentials as a UK arena attraction were surely sealed by the earlier hits from the album, on one of the most powerful double A-side releases of the era. “We Are The Champions” and “We Will Rock You” have both gone down in history as cast-iron rock classics. They were released on the same seven-inch 45 in late 1977, when the single went to No.2 in Britain. The two crowd-pleasers were, of course, an integral part of the new set list.
As their international reputation reached new heights, Queen’s European tour of April 1978 played in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Holland, France, Switzerland and Austria. They returned to the UK for shows at Stafford’s Bingley Hall on May 6 and 7, before taking London by storm.
All the hits and Elvis too
The quartet took to the Wembley Arena stage with “We Will Rock You,” launching a two-hour set that included previous hits such as “Somebody To Love,” “Killer Queen,” “Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy,” “Now I’m Here,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” It also offered album favorites like “Millionaire Waltz,” “Stone Cold Crazy,” and “White Man.”
The main set ended with the rocking “Tie Your Mother Down” before an encore reprise of “We Will Rock You” led into “We Are The Champions” and more, including a cover of “Jailhouse Rock.” Champions indeed.