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Tom Corcoran
Queen (Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon)
Writing Credits:

This Hammersmith Christmas concert was the culmination of the 26-date 'Queen invite you to A Night At The Opera UK tour of 1975, and was the last show of a very eventful and exciting year for Queen.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English LPCM Stereo 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 63 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 11/20/15

• “Looking Back at the Odeon” Documentary
• Bonus Tracks
• Booklet


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

Queen: A Night at the Odeon [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 21, 2014)

When I visited a 2014 Blu-ray called Live at the Rainbow, it featured the band Queen in late 1974 as they stood on the cusp of super-stardom. As I mentioned in that review, 1974’s Sheer Heart Attack was a major hit in the UK and also made it to number 12 in the US, the band’s first success in the States.

Released in November 1975, A Night at the Opera vaulted Queen high in the charts in both places – and many others. An enormous success, Opera established Queen as the international megaband they’d remain.

A Night at the Odeon shows us Queen as they tour to support A Night at the Opera. Shot on Christmas Eve 1975 at London’s Hammersmith Odeon, the Blu-ray includes only one song from the then-new Opera: “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

Sheer Heart Attack provides a stronger presence, as it gives us “Killer Queen”, “Brighton Rock”, “Now I’m Here”, “In the Lap of the Gods Revisited” and “Bring Back That Leroy Brown”.

1974’s Queen II delivers “Ogre Battle”, “March of the Black Queen” and “White Queen (As It Began)”. From 1973’s Queen, we find “Keep Yourself Alive”, “Liar” and “Son and Daughter”. We also find covers of “Big Spender”, “Jailhouse Rock”, “Stupid Cupid” and “Be Bop a Lula”.

Odeon omits parts of the original 1975 concert. It drops Queen II’s “Seven Seas of Rhye” and that single’s B-side, “See What A Fool I’ve Been”.

Apparently this occurs because of the nature of the original production. Odeon was filmed for broadcast on the BBC and only slotted for one hour, so when time was up, that was that. Audio versions of the missing songs exist but apparently there’s no video footage of them.

The biggest surprise comes from the paucity of Night at the Opera songs. I realize the album had been out only a month or so when Queen did this concert, but that wasn’t any different than it’d been a year earlier when Queen played the Rainbow. Actually, Sheer Heart Attack came out only a couple weeks before the show documented on that Blu-ray, but Queen still did seven of its songs.

So why ignore Opera at the Odeon, especially given what an enormous hit it’d already become? I have no idea, but it disappoints, as it’d be nice to get a setlist that favored songs the band couldn’t have played in 1974.

In terms of overlap, both Rainbow and Odeon share quite a few songs. In addition to “Bohemian Rhapsody”, only one unique Queen track shows up here: “Brighton Rock”. All of the other tunes previously appeared on Rainbow.

Given that Odeon and Rainbow present concerts 13 months apart with largely similar setlists, the question becomes what differences make Odeon appealing. I faced the same question when I reviewed Rolling Stones Live in Leeds 1982. That 2015 Blu-ray showed a concert from the same tour as 2014’s Hampton Coliseum and it provided a very similar setlist.

In the case of Leeds, I didn’t think there was a really compelling reason to own it if the viewer already had Hampton, and I feel largely the same about the circumstance that greets owners of Rainbow. They don’t have a really great reason to get Odeon as well.

That said, I can find a better rationale to own both Rainbow and Odeon than to buy Hampton and Leeds. As similar as the setlists may be, Odeon does provide a bit more visual pizzazz when compared to Rainbow. We get on-stage flash pots and a few other touches that add some spice.

I also think the band seems a tad more powerful in Odeon. Don’t get me wrong – they sounded very good in 1974. But the extra year on the road – and the confidence that comes with success – seems to have added to their swagger. Queen just feels more sure of themselves, and that leads to a slightly tighter performance.

As replicated on home video, Odeon continues to demonstrate a resemblance to Rainbow. Directed by Tom Corcoran, Odeon sticks with a fairly straightforward approach. It lacks the crazy editing we’d find with a more modern program, and that’s fine with me. While it doesn’t present a lot of polish, Odeon reproduces the concert in a satisfactory manner.

On its own, A Night at the Odeon works well. It shows a good band at the top of their game and gives us a solid performance. It simply loses points due to redundancy, as fans who already own Live at the Rainbow seem likely to experience a feeling of déjà vu.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B+/ Bonus C-

Queen: A Night at the Odeon appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. As was the case for the Rainbow 1974 Blu-ray, Odeon suffered from the limitations of its source but generally looked fine within those constraints.

Sharpness varied quite a bit. At best, the program showed fairly nice clarity and delineation, but it could go soft on more than a few occasions. This was virtually inevitable given the shooting conditions; clearly no one added lights to facilitate filming, so the cameras captured standard stage lighting.

Add to that circa 1975 video capabilities and inconsistent delineation became inevitable, but I found the sharpness to seem perfectly acceptable and often better. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. The source depicted a mix of concerns via rolling bars at times, but those remained minor; they showed up occasionally but weren’t a substantial distraction.

In terms of colors, the lighting offered the most obvious variation in hues, and these elements were up and down. Sometimes the colors seemed pretty peppy, while on other occasions, they looked less vivid. They remained adequate given the filming conditions and videotape origins. Blacks came across with reasonable depth, and low-light shots gave us fairly nice clarity. I didn’t expect much from a 40-year-old videotape, but I thought Odeon offered more than decent visuals.

I felt more consistently pleased with the concert’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio. The mix took advantage of the five speakers in an engaging manner. Vocals mostly remained up-front, and the majority of the instruments concentrated on logical locations as well, with good stereo spread across the forward channels; the elements popped up in appropriate, natural places.

The surrounds added a light, supportive layer of crowd noise and some instrumentation as well. Occasionally I heard some wild guitar work from the back speakers, and Freddie’s vocals echoed back there on occasion, such as during parts of “Now I’m Here”. A few other elements used the surrounds as well, though not in a really gimmicky manner. The rear channels offered a bit of involvement but nothing distracting.

Audio quality was always good. Vocals were fairly natural and crisp, while the instruments sounded accurate and distinctive. The mix seemed balanced, with clean highs and warm bass. The audio held up well over the last 40 years.

In addition to a small photo booklet, the Blu-ray comes with some disc-based extras. Looking Back at the Odeon runs 22 minutes, 57 seconds and offers notes from guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor. Along with host Bob Harris, they discuss the band’s status in 1975 as well as aspects of the concert. They give us some interesting memories of their experiences.

Live at the Budokan Japan 1975 provides three songs from Queen’s performances there. We get “Now I’m Here”, “Killer Queen” and “In the Lap of the Gods… Revisited”. Since all three tunes also appear in the main program, they’re not tremendously useful. They do come from the Sheer Heart Attack tour, so that makes them a bit different. All three also popped up on the Rainbow Blu-ray from 1974, though, so we already had documentation of the songs from that tour.

Don’t expect good quality for these three songs. Shot on film, the visuals look decent, but the monaural sound is terrible. The Budokan tracks are worthwhile for completists only.

By 1975, Queen had “arrived” as a major band, and A Night at the Odeon shows them in fine form. Unfortunately, it also strongly resembles a previously released concert from 1974, so it becomes more than a little redundant for fans who have the prior disc. The Blu-ray offers acceptable picture along with very good audio and a few supplements. I prefer the 1974 Rainbow Blu-ray, but Odeon works fine on its own.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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