Review Summary: Still the album is fun to listen to despite these minor (if barely noticeable) hiccups, making Live at Wembley 1986 not only one of Queen’s essential albums but an essential live album.
Released in ‘1992,’ “Live at Wembley 1986,” ‘Queen’s’ third live album release after ‘1978’s’ “Live Killers,” and ‘1986’s’ “Live Magic,” is one of the best documents of Queen as a live band. Unlike the other two that covered their live tours in bits and pieces or just unnecessarily edited down versions, Live at Wembley, for a change, shows an entire Queen Show.
Although the track listing is similar to that of 86’s Live Magic, this time there have been no annoying short cuts made or songs unnecessarily cut to pieces. There a kind of honesty, yet fun to the performance here, something that was lacking from their two previous live EP’s.
What this live album does a great job of too is showcasing Queen’s best hits, and Live at Wembley show cases them here. From ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ ‘A Kind of Magic,’ ‘Radio Ga Ga,’ ‘Crazy little thing called Love,’ ‘Another one bites the dust,’ ‘Under Pressure,’ We will rock you,’ and ‘We are the champions,’ the album is jam-packed with well known hit after well known hit.
It some ways it comes across more as a live hits package than an album (Although non-single gems like ‘In the lap of the gods,’ ‘Is this the world we created,’ and the pumped up version of ‘Tear it up,’ do make a welcome addition). But to the bands credit they don’t simply recycle their songs as carbon studio copies but indeed give them each that heavier distinction that makes even a song as old as ‘Now I’m Here’ seem very fresh and new.
‘Freddie’ naturally steals the show, and shows off his brilliant ‘front-man persona that lit up the previous years ‘Live Aid,’ there’s even a part, when just after the band perform their hit single Under Pressure, Mercury goes into a splendid a cappella sing along with the audience, who chant ‘Elo…’ with him.
There are some surprise elements to:
First being the well performed cover versions of “Hello Mary Lou (Goodbye heart),” and “Big Spender.” They also amazingly perform “Tutti Fruitti,” virtually making it their own song.
There are some minor weak points to the album though:
The first being Bohemian Rhapsody, which although sounding great in the studio, the band could never quite pull it of live. Another problem is the unnecessarily long guitar solo for “Brighton Rock,” which bought back the bands early problems where they would try to perform needless guitar solos which ultimately were boring.
Another problem (although minor), is that wasn’t this the ‘A Kind of Magic Tour?’ I mean basically we get three songs from that album “A Kind of Magic,” “Who wants to live forever,” and a dreadful cut down version of (the admittingly dreadful) “Friends will be Friends.” This was their latest album afterall. For example ‘Live Killers’ which was released during the bands ‘Jazz Tour’ at least had a couple of numbers from that album (Despite how bad Jazz might have been).
Still the album is fun to listen to despite these minor (if barely noticeable) hiccups, making Live at Wembley 1986 not only one of Queen’s essential albums but an essential live album.