The famous Queen Christmas show at the Hammersmith Odeon on December 24th 1975 is to be broadcast on BBC2 on Friday Nov 27th at 11.35pm.
Hammersmith Odeon, London, England by Greg Brooks
This concert is available as a bootleg recording.
This show is broadcast live on both Radio One and The Old Grey Whistle Test, whose host Bob Harris introduces the band on stage dressed in a white suit and top hat. Due to the television and radio coverage (including numerous brutally edited repeats), this performance will go on to become the most heavily bootlegged of the bandâ€™s career.
Although at one point only three vinyl albums seemed were in circulation â€“ â€˜Command Performanceâ€™, â€˜Christmas At The Beebâ€™ and the curiously titled â€˜Halfpenceâ€™ â€“ since the advent of compact disc, innumerable alternatives have flooded the market: â€˜Eve Of Christmasâ€™, â€˜London 1975â€™, â€˜Rhapsody In Redâ€™, â€˜Command Performanceâ€™, â€˜Xâ€™Mas 1975â€™, â€˜Live Dates Vol.17â€™, â€˜Christmas At The Beebâ€™, â€˜Unauthorisedâ€™, and most recently â€˜High Voltageâ€™.
Due to public demand, the radio broadcast will be repeated the following year, on December 28.
Freddie looks fantastic in a white satin catsuit outfit, with a custom designed mini-jacket, exaggerated flared trousers and white boots. He also wears numerous rings and bangles, and has the finger nails of his left hand painted black. His hair is long, thick, wavy and jet black. John wears white satin trousers and waistcoat, and a black shirt. Brian too, is clad entirely in white; sporting his beloved Zandra Rhodes cape, and reminiscent of a white Batman. Both he and Freddie look decidedly God-like!
Following â€˜White Queenâ€™ Freddie speaks: â€œNow then, weâ€™re gonna do a nice tasty little medley for you… just like the one we did the other day, yes, and weâ€™re gonna start off with a little segment from a numberrrr, called â€˜Bohemian Rhapsodyâ€™.â€
After just two minutes Freddie is fingering the opening chords of â€˜Killer Queenâ€™ which replace the finger clicking of the album cut. The crowd assist with accompanying handclaps and the band perform the song up to the point where the line â€œTo avoid complications she never kept the same addressâ€ is due, then the direction changes again and the band are into â€˜Black Queenâ€™ which in turn goes into the â€˜Bo Rhapâ€™ reprise: â€œOoh yeah – ooh yeah, nothing really matters, anyone can see, nothing really matters, nothing really matters to me.â€ There the medley ends.
Later. â€œNow then, weâ€™re now gonna feature Brian – Brian May on guitar. This numberâ€™s entitled â€˜Brighton Rockâ€™.â€ Nearly eleven minutes later and an exhausted Brian (with help from Roger and John) abruptly ends the song. This was the first time that ‘Brighton Rock’ had ever been performed in it’s own right.
Roger opens the next song before Brianâ€™s familiar guitar intro identifies â€˜Keep Yourself Aliveâ€™. By now Freddie has changed into a tight fitting black satin cat-suit. Even by todayâ€™s standards, it is provocative apparel.
Freddie: â€œNow itâ€™s time to join in everybody… and you can sing along in all the choruses, give us a helping hand. You can take all your clothes off. What about you in the balcony… are you with us? Everybody at home, letâ€™s go.â€ â€˜Keep Yourself Aliveâ€™ begins. Roger takes a fifty-second drum solo mid-way through and Freddie seems as impressed as the audience.
â€œAnd now, a special rendition of a little number called â€˜Liarâ€™.â€ Roger pounds his way around his drum kit again and Freddie quips: â€œSock it to â€™em Rog.â€
Brian introduces the next one: â€œItâ€™s been like a party here tonight. Thanks for making it really something for us, itâ€™s felt a lot different. Thanks for giving us a good year. Weâ€™d like to leave you in the lap of the gods.â€ Following â€˜Godsâ€™, during which Freddie is obscured by an over-active dry ice machine. The show ends with lots of bubbles and hundreds of festively decorated balloons, streamers and glitter dropping from nets above the stage. Curiously, a number of fully inflated blow-up ladies also descend.
For the encore, Freddie returns to the stage in a Japanese kimono once more, discarding it to reveal tight white shorts and T-shirt, while Roger wears a multi coloured tea cosy wig!
What follows next is probably one of the best Rock and Roll Medleyâ€™s the band have performed especially as it is captured so well on video. With more bubbles and smoke the band piledrive into â€˜Jailhouse Rockâ€™ incorporating â€˜Stupid Cupidâ€™, â€˜Be Bop A Lulaâ€™ and â€˜Shake Rattle And Rollâ€™.
Brian owns up to a band oversight: â€œThis is where we start, I thinkâ€, he says, realising that a song has been overlooked in the set. Freddie: â€œRight, a number we forgot to do in the set… itâ€™s called â€˜Seven Seas Of Rhyeâ€™.â€
Although this show is widely regarded by fans as one of Queenâ€™s finest, the band feel differently. Brian: â€œFreddie and I, though me particularly, had dreadful flu and could hardly walk, let alone play – so it wasnâ€™t one of our greatest performances. But it was still all very exciting. It was the adrenaline that kept us going.â€
Jeff Griffin (BBC Producer of this broadcast): I next worked with Queen on the Christmas Eve concert of 1975. By that time I had started to do Christmas Eve simulcasts for BBC 2 with my colleague Mike Appleton, who was also producing the Whistle Test. Weâ€™d done Elton John at the Hammersmith Odeon the previous year and it so happened in 1975 that Queen were having a run just up to Christmas. We had a chat with their management and they said â€˜Yeah, okay, fine. Weâ€™d be happy with thatâ€™. So thatâ€™s what we did.
â€œThat show went marvellously well. By that time – this is now about a year and a half after Iâ€™d done the in-house concert, as it were, up at the Hippodrome (Sept 13, 1973) â€“ the band were well in form, and there were no problems with Freddieâ€™s voice or pitch, or anything else.
â€œIt was a great show and as well as being broadcast live as a simulcast on Christmas Eve 1975 on Radio One and BBC 2 TV, I put part of it out in sound only on Radio One – on the 28th February 1976.â€
Brian and Freddieâ€™s parents meet for the first time at this show. It transpires they had lived close to one another for over sixteen years, yet somehow have never actually encountered one another.