Freddie Mercury (lead vocals, piano, tambourine),
Brian May (electric guitar, backing vocals, banjo),
Roger Taylor (drums, backing vocals),
John Deacon (bass guitar, triangle)
ticket stub (from my own collection)
Written by Lee Unal
To be honest, I can't remember much about the concert but the build up and after effects have stayed with me to this day. It was 1974 and Glam Rock was in its swan song. I was a nine year old boy who loved seeing bands like Slade and The Sweet on Top of the Pops and had decided to buy 'Tiger Feet' by Mud. On the way to purchase my first single with my 17 year old brother, he suggested that 'Tiger Feet' was for 'teenyboppers' and that I should get 'Seven Seas of Rhye' by a new band called Queen instead, who I had never heard of. After much deliberation, I put my trust in his judgement and bought the Queen single. At first it seemed a bit heavy, but later I began to love it and all things Queen.
When my brother suggested going to see Queen in concert, I jumped at the chance. The concert was to promote their latest album, Sheer Heart Attack, and Manchester was the first date. Imagine that now, not one but two superb albums released in the same year (Queen II and S.H.A.) with tours to match! Ahh, those were the days.
At the Palace Theatre, I wondered why nobody seemed very interested in the support band Hustler, but we found our seats, caught their set, then waited through the break for Queen to come on stage. My memory is of the theatre rapidly filling up in the following 30 minutes or so, and as it did, so did my feelings of excitement and anticipation. When the house lights suddenly went off, there was a huge roar from the audience and everybody stood up, meaning that this 9 year old couldn't really see much of the stage! I wasn't familiar with many of the songs but I do remember three aspects of the concert in particular. Firstly, the music was the loudest thing I had ever heard, and secondly, the sound was punctuated throughout the gig with huge explosions and flashes of light, accompanied by clouds of white smoke.
The other thing that caught my eye was Freddie Mercury himself. He started the concert dressed all in white, finished it wearing all black attire, and never stood still for a single second of it, apart from when he was sat at the piano. He was constantly cavorting from stage left to stage right, then from the front of the stage towards the back and up onto Roger's drum riser and back down again. When I also considered his powerful voice and proficient piano playing, even as someone still at Junior School, I realised I was watching somebody very special indeed.
When the concert finally ended and the house lights came on, everyone poured out onto the street, and I experienced mixed emotions on the way home. On the down side, I was upset at the ringing in my ears, but my brother assured me that it would pass. Much more enduring was the feeling that I had just experienced my first rock concert and what an astonishing experience it had been.
After this gig, I believe that I had cramped my brother's style and he never took me to see another concert. I had to wait until I was 16 to go and see Queen again, which was on 6th December 1980 in Birmingham. That was the concert that truly blew my mind and converted me into a lifelong Queen fan. But the seed had been sown six years before and will stay with me forever.