Queen The Greatest Live: Seven Seas Of Rhye (Episode 25)
“Queen The Greatest Live”
The Greatest series returns with a year-long celebration of Queen Live. A 50-week YouTube series going behind the scenes to reveal what goes into creating a Queen show, featuring moments from iconic performances and demonstrating why the band is regarded as the ultimate live act.
Queen The Greatest Live : Adapting Songs: Seven Seas Of Rhye (Episode 25)
From the start, Queen pushed the limits of studio technology to accommodate their exquisite overdubs and intricate harmonies. But perhaps even more impressive was their ability to recreate that onstage without backing tapes or additional musicians, as demonstrated by this iconic November 1974 Rainbow performance
For Queen, the two-night stand at London’s Rainbow Theatre in November 1974 marked a turning point. The year had begun in dispiriting fashion, with the band heckled at January’s Sunbury Pop Festival in Australia by fans demanding home-grown acts, and Brian May felled by hepatitis during the band’s spring US tour under Mott The Hoople. But when the band hit the London Rainbow Theatre stage on November 19th and 20th – now armed with breakthrough album Queen II and their first hit singles in Seven Seas Of Rhye and Killer Queen – their restored confidence was palpable.
“It’s incredible how much happened to Queen in 1974,” Brian remembered in Mojo magazine. “When I see the footage of us from those shows now, I see so much confidence and adrenaline and I think, My God, we were such impatient boys.”
Filmed at the second night at the Rainbow on November 20th, this week’s archive performance of Seven Seas Of Rhye shows a fearless live band already pushing the boundaries of the song that had changed their fortunes. Principally written by Freddie Mercury – and opening with his instant-classic cascading piano part – Seven Seas Of Rhye’s success lived up to its all-conquering lyric. Released as the band’s second UK single in February 1974, it was boosted to #10 by their first TV appearance as an eleventh-hour substitute for David Bowie on Top Of The Pops.
Even in those formative years, Queen were experimental and ambitious studio musicians, employing swirls of vocal harmony and multitracked instrumentation to create epic textured soundscapes. Translating that to the stage took an entirely different skill-set, and in this footage – incidentally, the first-ever Queen concert to be filmed and recorded, with an edited version later screened in UK cinemas as the opener to Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains The Same, before returning to the vaults for two decades – the band’s live mastery is breathtaking.
From Freddie playing one-handed piano while holding the microphone, to Roger Taylor effortlessly hitting the high harmony that some fans assumed was studio trickery on Queen II, this is indisputably the sound of a band at the top of their game. “When I listen to Queen Live At The Rainbow now, I find it extraordinary,” says Taylor of the boxset released in 2014. “I’d forgotten how heavy we were…”
Queen The Greatest Live: Seven Seas Of Rhye (Episode 25
Next week : Queen The Greatest Live – Expect The Unexpected.