The 70's, what a decade, Glam Rock, flares, platform heeled shoes, being a teenager then was one of the most exciting periods of my life. Having just left school in the summer of 73 and having just started working a few months earlier, like most kids I saved most of my wages to purchase my first record player, which eventually bought and was a 'top of the range' Ferguson stereogram, one of those teak coloured sideboard looking affairs, laughable now really!
This period was the defining moment of my young life; musically I was mainly into two bands, the first one being 'Queen', and the second 'The Sweet', in that order! Queen sang and played songs about Fairy Feller's, Ogre Battle's and Great King Rats etc. Whereby Sweet sung about Hellraising, fighting, and stealing your girlfriend! Both bands had a profound affect on my musical upbringing. They both had a great visual image, superb vocal harmonies and in my opinion two of the best lead guitarists of all time in Brian May & Andy Scott, which incidentally was always the main factor that got me into Rock music in general.
Having first heard Queen's second British single, the monumental 'Seven Seas Of Rhye' in my local Woolworth's music department of all places, I handed over my 45p and rushed home to play it. The 'A' track and its (vastly underrated) 'B' side 'See What a Fool I've Been' is still one of my all time favorite Queen tracks even after all these years!
It wasn't long before the classic 'Queen II' album came out and became part of my regular record deck playlist. The album also confirmed what I had believed all along that the band were hard edged rockers, that used grandiose, interesting lyrics, but more importantly melodies in conjunction with guitar riffs to spread their message.
Having now been converted 100% to the Queen cause and with both single and album gatecrashing the mainly Soul music dominated record charts, it wasn't long before I heard that the band were aiming to tour Britain to support their recently released vinyl offerings, along with their 3rd album Sheer Heart Attack, that was just around the corner.
Stoke-on-Trent was not, and still is not the Rock 'n' Roll capital of the world, although we did have a couple of decent music venues in the town, (and a reputation for giving visiting bands a hard time if they couldn't cut it live.) The main one was the Victoria Hall a large, cold and cavernous place, one that was more commonly used to promoting orchestral concerts, although bands like UFO, Budgie and the like had played here. It was also here that Queen were booked to perform a show (supported by Firefly/A&M records recording artists 'Hustler'.)
Unbeknown to me at the time, but this was Queen's second visit to my hometown. Apparently the band's first trip was when they supported 'Mott The Hoople', in November a year earlier, where it was also reported by colleagues of mine who had attended that particular gig that "Queen had simply blown Mott off the stage, they were so good!"
Proceeding to convince a couple of 'none Queen believer' friends of mine to also attend the show I purchased three 80p tickets (if only ticket prices were still this reasonable!) and waited. It wasn't long, before the show date arrived. The concert hall building being a major landmark was on my way home, (I used to pass it on the way from doing part time college studies), imagine how shocked I was one afternoon to see in its main reception area a large colour poster advertising the Queen show. Being a bit brave and with no one looking, I carefully prized the poster away from the wall, rolled it up and proceeded to walk off with it. The poster printed in gold and purple (see inset) is still one of the best posters I have ever seen. It still has pride of place on my landing wall and is the envy of many of my friends.
As evening approached I collected my friends and made our way to a pub that adjoined the venue. On entering the hall and considering this was a quiet Thursday night, the place seemed pretty full. We entered midway through support band Hustler's set, but they were very entertaining and played some really good songs, I remember being impressed by one particular tune called 'Little People' which I think was released as their first single? After they had ended there was the usual delay whilst the stage gear was removed, but then at around 9.30 the house lights went off and silhouettes of the various Queen band members could be seen entering the stage to the instrumental fanfare intro of 'Procession'.
The band were wearing superb white and black 'Angel type winged costumes' designed and made for them by Zandra Rhodes I believe (similar to the stage costumes that they wore a year later for the televised BBC London Hammersmith Odeon concert).
The stage lighting was quite dark at times but Freddie, Brian, Roger & John opened proceedings with the excellent Now I'm Here. Soon they broke into Ogre Battle and then White Queen, before launching into a brand new song, Flick of the Wrist. I believe we then had an excellent medley of, In The Lap Of The Gods, Killer Queen, The March Of The Black Queen and Bring Back That Leroy Brown before they proceeded with a couple of Queen I songs, with Son & Daughter and Keep Yourself Alive. I seem to remember we then had two more brand new songs, with the superb Stone Cold Crazy, followed by Lap of the Gods Revisited which went down really well with lots of people now rammed up close to the front of the high hall stage.
They finished with Son and Daughter I believe. Freddie thanked everyone for attending and said a few words about the new album coming out soon. As they left the stage the crowd were going mad and demanding more, and eventually, the band returned for the encore, which I seem to remember was Big Spender, and Jailhouse Rock.
The sound quality of the show wasn't perfect, but this was normal at this venue, a criticism that affected many bands that visited the Victoria Hall. Nevertheless the band went down extremely well with the a very enthusiastic audience, in fact there was a broad mixed age range which was good to see. On this performance you can understand why they went on to achieve the fame and success they did, it was impossible not to think that they wouldn't as the fan base just had to increase especially with the 'Killer Queen' single having been released about a month earlier.
I saw Queen perform on a few other occasions (maybe I'll report on these other shows in a future issue) but none of them impressed me as much as this show, they were quite sensational. My only regret of the night was not going backstage and hunting down some band autographs, never mind it was still a great, not to be missed performance.