Review Summary: Queen were always best suited to a grand audience.
The double album set “On Fire- Live at the bowl,” is one of the most fun live albums ever recorded.
It covers Queen’s 1982 “Hot Space” tour, and although the album itself wasn’t a big success the tour that accompanied it has to be classed as one of their finest ever.
One such date is the June 5th 1982, Milton Keynes performance.
There are some interesting stories to boot also.
One of such is at the beginning of the concert guitarist Brian May
had to, twice during the concert, change from his custom ‘homemade’ Red Special guitar and use a ‘Birch Red Special’ instead. This was because the guitar strings had snapped whilst performing the opening number “We will rock you (Fast Version),” and later whilst doing “Dragon Attack.”
One of the most interesting concepts of the performance though is how it takes average tracks from the Hot Space release (“Staying Power,” “Action This Day,” “Back Chat,” and what the hell “Under Pressure,”) and turns them into ‘hot pressed’ hard en’ heavy rock classics.
Queen were always best suited for a grand audience.
Whilst at times on the smaller audience Live LP “Live Killers,” they seemed to be too expansive or ambitious for their own good, with the larger scale ‘40,000 + audience, the band have enough space and expansion to do whatever they damn well please. As they would in the future in further historical performance first at 1985’s “Live Aid,” and then 1986’s “Live at Wembley” performance.
But Live at the Bowl, offers Queen at their freshest and even at their most fighting fit.
For example, when Freddie
goes all a cappella on “Somebody to Love,” when he asks the audience if ‘anybody can find me Somebody too…. Looooveee,
’ before gauging straight into the now familiar piano intro, this is yet another reminder that no one was quite a showman quite like Mr Bulsara
Another cool instance is when Mercury blurts out ‘ok on with the show, this is Action,
’ and the band play Action This Day; as if their lives depended on it. You feel as if Queen’s front man is single handily motivating the band to the grandest of scales.
There are some surprising additions on show too.
First is the underrated rocker “The Hero” from 1980’s “Flash Gordon” LP, which rocks straight on from their sturdy opener We will Rock You (Fast). Another songs previously not available on Live LPs such as “Play the Game,” the afore mentioned Somebody to Love, “Dragon Attack,” “Save Me,” the underrated “Back Chat,” and the song Freddie tells us to ‘put in all our diaries “Fat Bottomed Girls.” These are all performed with a dramatic, yet elegant, heaviness of quality and confidence.
The album of course has the obvious hits too. From “Bohemian Rhapsody,” to the closing boombasticness of “We will rock you;” and “We are the Champions,” as well as more recent hits of those times such as “Crazy little thing called love,” “Another one bites the dust,” and the dum, der, dum, de, de, dum, dum,
of “Under Pressure.”
The only real downside (like Live at Wembley) is the unnecessarily long and boring Brian May guitar solo for “Brighton Rock Solo,” the addition to one of Queen’s worst songs “Get down make love,” (although it is thankfully cut short) and as usual the not so perfect version of Bo Rhap (With its pre-recorded schalamouches and fandango’s
). But other than that, the rest is a party.
Most importantly though, the show holds your interest all the way to the pre-recorded ending of “God Save the Queen,” where Freddie wottles his crown around and makes his usual grandiesque speech ‘See you good night….
This is a great and fun album to listen to, and highlights Queen at the height of their live powers.