Queen: Live at the Rainbow ’74 (Blu-ray Review)

Queen - Live at the Rainbow1974 was a year of high achievement for Queen. They had their first two hit singles, ‘Seven Seas OfRhye’ and ‘Killer Queen,’ released two albums, ‘Queen II’ and ‘Sheer Heart Attack,’ and completed major tours across the UK, America and Europe. In the UK, they performed three sold-out shows at the legendary Rainbow Theatre in London’s Finsbury Park, one in March on the ‘Queen II’ tour and two in November following the release of ‘Sheer Heart Attack’. To mark the 40th Anniversary of these shows, fans can finally enjoy Queen ‘Live At The Rainbow 74’, lovingly restored, re-edited, mixed and digitally mastered and including much previously unseen footage. The main show is from November with, as a bonus, the only surviving footage from the March show. This is Queen dazzling their audience with an unforgettable show delivered with a skill and confidence which belied their youth. 

Live at the Rainbow

The Show 

I remember getting the press release earlier in the year and thinking to myself that it wasn’t going to be a big deal – it’s just another Queen release, right? I was wrong. Queen: Live at the Rainbow ’74 is apparently, or was until a few weeks ago, a rarity outside of bootleggers’ circles. It was the band before they exploded into fame and fortune and it was shot during their support for Sheer Heart Attack, which is technically their third album. Three albums in under 3 years? Ah, those were the days! My first introduction to Queen, which I may have mentioned in my other reviews for some of their Blu-rays, was A Kind of Magic, the unofficial soundtrack to the first Highlander film. To see this Blu-ray in all of their early glory would be a trip worth taking.

Live at the Rainbow was filmed and performed November of 1974. I believe this was their second stop at the venue having previously played there in March of the same year. Freddie Mercury and company got up on that stage and played a scorching set of 24 songs, reprises, solos, instrumentals, and everything in between. Watching the show and listening to some of these tunes on a somewhat unfamiliar set list was a musical education and awakening for me. As soon as Ogre Battle began and thrashed I said to myself: This is prog rock! Literally, there are several songs that are intertwined and go on for quite a while but seeing the band and hearing these compositions one can see that their future in rock was assured. The set list perfumed at the Rainbow was anything but simple.

The band was tight and ran through the blistering set like a freight train without brakes. The only pauses are when Freddie addresses the crowd before hitting the gas and moving on with the show. The night was filled with soon to be mega hits and is filled with very early material that are not typical hits but have a loyal fan base. If you’re like me, and only know the mega hits and the stuff from the 80’s, then you will appreciate this crash course. Discovering and rediscovering some of these early tunes in a live setting is easily worth the price of admission this set.

Please keep in mind that Queen: Live at the Rainbow ’74 was released in several different formats. This review is for the Blu-ray but other editions include: Queen: Live at the Rainbow ’74 (Blu-ray/CD)Queen: Live at the Rainbow ’74 Deluxe Edition, which is a multi-vinyl set. They really went all out on this show and why not? It’s been in a vault for the past 40 years, so it’s time to release it for the world to see and hear it in all its high definition and high-resolution glory.



Now I’m Here

Ogre Battle

Father To Son

White Queen (as it began)

Flick Of The Wrist

In the Lap Of The Gods

Killer Queen

The March Of The Black Queen

Bring Back That Leroy Brown

Son And Daughter

Guitar Solo

Son And Daughter (reprise)

Keep Yourself Alive

Drum Solo

Keep Yourself Alive (reprise)

Seven Seas Of Rhye

Stone Cold Crazy


In The Lap Of The Gods…Revisited

Big Spender

Modern Times Rock ‘n’ Roll

Jailhouse Rock

God Save The Queen



Live at the Rainbow


Encoding: AVC MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080i (unconverted from a standard definition source)

Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Widescreen (4:3 Pillarbox)

Clarity/Detail: I expected the worst due the original elements being 16 mm and this being another one of Eagle Rock’s “SD Blu-ray” releases but I was actually pleasantly surprised. The image is a bit soft here and there and does have some contrast issues but that could due to the lighting and stage show – but the Blu-ray captures those nuances.

Depth: The film is a bit soft and a bit flat. Unlike some of the newer native 1080p programs that we’re accustomed to from Eagle Rock Live at the Rainbow falls a bit flat in that department but make no mistake it’s still a great looking show and the party is down in front.

Black Levels: Black levels crush a bit during the brief breaks in between songs or when the lights go off for a selection. It’s to be expected.

Color Reproduction: Colors are a bit on the colorful side but not colorful. Freddie has two costume changes and it’s a black and white number. The lights, stage design, etc., is what remains colorful while the band keeps it on neutral.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones appear as normal as can be, and for a bunch of guys who are wearing a bit of make-up (concealer most likely along with some eyeliner) the Blu-ray captures everyone’s complexions evenly.

Noise/Artifacts: Yes, the video contains video and artifacts but it’s not bombarded with them at all. They’ve remastered the show as best they can, so anomalies like noise and whatnot are still going to be there. I will say that the bonus tracks presented in the special features are a bit more problematic since those tracks were not remastered like the main show was.


Live at the Rainbow


Audio Format(s): DTS HD-MA 5.1 (96kHz/24bit), LPCM 2.0 Stereo (96kHz/24bit)

Subtitles: N/A

Dynamics: Going in blind on this release I thought that a 40-year performance couldn’t be sweetened up to today’s standards but boy was I wrong! I watched it with the DTS HD-MA 5.1 track and it was PHENOMENAL! Vocals are crystal clear and just punch you right in the face, dust you off, and ask you if you’re all right. I mean the instrument localization is great and so is the separation.

Low Frequency Extension: The beautiful low end (LFE) doesn’t pummel the viewer and listener it only enhances Taylor and Deacon’s playing abilities. It will not beat you over the head needlessly.

Surround Sound Presentation: The show is a lively one but Freddie takes charge and you can only hear a slight audience vibe in the rear channels, which is fine, because you don’t want the audience to drown out the band. They don’t. The only times you do hear the audience is in-between songs when Freddie raps with the crowd.

Dialogue Reproduction: They basically gave Freddie Mercury full control of the center channel. I did not notice any signs of clipping, hiss, distortion, or any anomalies of any kind during playback.



Live at the Rainbow


Queen: Live at the Rainbow ’74 does not offer any new or vintage interviews with the band – we only get a handful of extra songs and reprises. The running time is just under 20 minutes for those tunes and they are printed in SD from a 16 mm non-remastered print. In fact, at the end of songs, a disclaimer appears on the screen asking folks if they know the location of more film cans and footage to call or write the company shown. I guess there’s some lost film of the show(s) out there. These bonus tracks are from the March ’74 Rainbow performance.

Bonus Tracks

Son and Daughter

Guitar Solo

Son and Daughter (reprise)

Modern Times Rock ‘n’ Roll


Live at the Rainbow


 40 years in the making – bootlegs not withstanding but Live at the Rainbow ’74 is finally available on various formats all over the world! This Blu-ray presentation of the bombastic show is epic, features some good-looking video and reference audio specs. The bonus features also include more songs and reprises. If you’re a Queen fan then you already know what needs to be done. If you’re a casual rock ‘n roll fan then you also know what needs to be done. Queen: Live at the Rainbow ’74 is a winner.




Order Queen: Live at the Rainbow ’74 on Blu-ray!

Live at the Rainbow


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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