Added on 18-Nov-2009
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
Now I’m Here / Ogre Battle / White Queen / Medley: Bohemian Rhapsody; Killer Queen; The March Of The Black Queen; Bohemian Rhapsody (Reprise); Bring Back That Leroy Brown / Brighton Rock / Guitar Solo / Son And Daughter (Reprise) / Keep Yourself Alive / Liar / In The Lap Of The Gods (Revisited) / Encore Medley: Big Spender; Jailhouse Rock; Stupid Cupid; Be Bop A Lula; Shake Rattle And Roll; Jailhouse Rock (Reprise) / Second Encore: Seven Seas Of Rhye / See What A Fool I’ve Been / God Save The Queen
(Unusual track sequence, but correct)
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 band’s career.
Although at one point only three vinyl albums seemed were in circulation – ‘Command Performance’, ‘Christmas At The Beeb’ and the curiously titled ‘Halfpence’ – since the advent of compact disc, innumerable alternatives have flooded the market: ‘Eve Of Christmas’, ‘London 1975’, ‘Rhapsody In Red’, ‘Command Performance’, ‘X’Mas 1975’, ‘Live Dates Vol.17’, ‘Christmas At The Beeb’, ‘Unauthorised’, and most recently ‘High Voltage’.
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 ‘White Queen’ Freddie speaks: “Now then, we’re gonna do a nice tasty little medley for you… just like the one we did the other day, yes, and we’re gonna start off with a little segment from a numberrrr, called ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.”
After just two minutes Freddie is fingering the opening chords of ‘Killer Queen’ 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 “To avoid complications she never kept the same address” is due, then the direction changes again and the band are into ‘Black Queen’ which in turn goes into the ‘Bo Rhap’ reprise: “Ooh yeah – ooh yeah, nothing really matters, anyone can see, nothing really matters, nothing really matters to me.” There the medley ends.
Later. “Now then, we’re now gonna feature Brian – Brian May on guitar. This number’s entitled ‘Brighton Rock’.” 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 Brian’s familiar guitar intro identifies ‘Keep Yourself Alive’. By now Freddie has changed into a tight fitting black satin cat-suit. Even by today’s standards, it is provocative apparel.
Freddie: “Now it’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, let’s go.” ‘Keep Yourself Alive’ begins. Roger takes a fifty-second drum solo mid-way through and Freddie seems as impressed as the audience.
“And now, a special rendition of a little number called ‘Liar’.” Roger pounds his way around his drum kit again and Freddie quips: “Sock it to ’em Rog.”
Brian introduces the next one: “It’s been like a party here tonight. Thanks for making it really something for us, it’s felt a lot different. Thanks for giving us a good year. We’d like to leave you in the lap of the gods.” Following ‘Gods’, 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 Medley’s the band have performed especially as it is captured so well on video. With more bubbles and smoke the band piledrive into ‘Jailhouse Rock’ incorporating ‘Stupid Cupid’, ‘Be Bop A Lula’ and ‘Shake Rattle And Roll’.
Brian owns up to a band oversight: “This is where we start, I think”, he says, realising that a song has been overlooked in the set. Freddie: “Right, a number we forgot to do in the set… it’s called ‘Seven Seas Of Rhye’.”
Although this show is widely regarded by fans as one of Queen’s finest, the band feel differently. Brian: “Freddie and I, though me particularly, had dreadful flu and could hardly walk, let alone play – so it wasn’t one of our greatest performances. But it was still all very exciting. It was the adrenaline that kept us going.”
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. We’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 ‘Yeah, okay, fine. We’d be happy with that’. So that’s what we did.
“That show went marvellously well. By that time – this is now about a year and a half after I’d done the in-house concert, as it were, up at the Hippodrome (Sept 13, 1973) – the band were well in form, and there were no problems with Freddie’s voice or pitch, or anything else.
“It 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.”
Brian and Freddie’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.