Friday, 17 May 2019

Queen - Queen On Fire (1982)


Recorded live in Milton Keynes in 1982

This was Queen at the nadir of their career, for me, long after their glory years of 1974-77 and before their Live Aid-inspired second coming of 1985-86. It was at the time of their venture into funk and synthesiser based riffs described, embarrassingly, by Freddie Mercury on stage in this show as being in the "funk, black category, whatever you call it...". It was a bit of a shame that Mercury felt he had to apologise for this, but it was a considerable deviation from the band's usual rock fare. Furthermore, I loved Queen in their 1974-77 period and I love funk too, but, for me, Queen and funk were never particularly comfortable bedfellows. Fair play to them for giving it a go, but it always sounded more than just a little self-conscious to me, as if they were just trying too hard.

Queen were a band struggling to stay relevant at this time, despite their later huge resurgence in popularity, and I always got the impression that the audience here were turning up out of loyalty, old stagers from the mid-seventies who hadn't moved on to punk and new wave and they put up with some of the material out of politeness. The band had yet to gain the new audience that 1985 would give them.

Regarding the sound quality, it has that certain je ne sais quoi that outdoor recordings often have that makes them ever so slightly more muffled and indistinct than their indoor equivalents. "Queen Live At Wembley" suffers even more for this. It is ok, sonically, but certainly not perfect.


1. Flash
2. The Hero
3. We Will Rock You (Fast Version)
4. Action This Day
5. Play The Game
6. Staying Power
7. Somebody To Love
8. Now I'm Here
9. Dragon Attack
10. Now I'm Here (Reprise)
11. Love of My Life
12. Save Me
13. Back Chat
14. Get Down Make Love
15. Under Pressure
16. Fat Bottomed Girls
17. Crazy Little Thing Called Love
18. Bohemian Rhapsody
19. Tie Your Mother Down
20. Another One Bites The Dust
21. Sheer Heart Attack
22. We Will Rock You
23. We Are The Champions
24. God Save the Queen

The funk-inspired chuggers from the "Hot Space" album are "Action This Day" (although to be fair, this is far more of a rock song), "Staying Power" and "Back Chat" and they render the first half of the gig less enjoyable than the second. Two of their ventures into funk, however, are excellent - "Dragon Attack" and the now iconic and much-sampled "Another One Bites The Dust". "Get Down, Make Love", from 1977's "News Of The World", however, has always been awful.

As for the highlights - it is nice to hear "Save Me" and "Play The Game" played live, as well as the anthemic "Somebody To Love" and the ludicrous but catchy rock of "Fat Bottomed Girls". "Under Pressure" is played to please the many who will have bought the single the previous winter and Freddie Mercury takes all the vocals, including the Bowie slots. We also get "We Will Rock You" in its two incarnations, just as on 1979's "Live Killers" and 1981's "Queen Rock Montreal".

I always loathed "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", though, and still do. Sorry.


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