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This page is an overview of Queen's live career between 1982 and 1986. The tracks given for each tour reflect the standard setlist, but the actual songs performed varied from night to night. For a more comprehensive list, with exact setlists and details of live recordings, please see the Queen Concerts website.
1982 Hot Space UK/European Tour (30) 1982 Hot Space North American Tour (33) 1982 Saturday Night Live Appearance (1) 1982 Hot Space Japanese Tour (6) 1984 San Remo Song Festival (2) 1984 Montreux Golden Rose Pop Festival (1) 1984 The Works UK/European Tour (23) 1984 The Works South African Tour (9) 1985 Brazilian Rock In Rio Festival (2) 1985 The Works Australasian/Japanese Tour (14) 1985 Live Aid: The Global Jukebox (1) 1986 Monteux Golden Rose Pop Festival (1) 1986 UK/European The Magic Tour (26)
Remembering Queen’s Infamous and History-Making Tour of South America
If I had to define the music of Queen in one word, it would be “grand.” Their songs were expansive and larger than life, with a range that included any number of iterations – from electronic pop to throwback rockabilly. Every track seemed to have one goal: to give the listener an escape from everyday life. Their music was an invitation to something greater, and for the duration of a multipart operetta or a crowd sing-along, you are transported through a door to something different. It’s no wonder the British rock band had such avid and influential fandom in Latin America – a history that is briefly referenced in Bohemian Rhapsody , the Freddie Mercury biopic that has reignited interest in Queen’s extraordinary career and legacy.
The Freddie Mercury-led quartet rose to fame during the ‘70s and ‘80s, a time when many Latin American countries were facing repressive military governments and dictatorships, economic upheaval and social unrest. This gave the escapist nature of Queen’s music greater depth for fans, but it also made it difficult for the band to meet their Latin American fans on the regular. Indeed, their only tour of South America happened in 1981.
At the time, they were touring in support of the 1980 album The Game – which includes hits like “Another One Bites The Dust” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” – and their short trek has become the stuff of myths and legends. The tour began on February 28, with two consecutive nights at Estadio Velez Sarsfield in Buenos Aires, where the band drew a crowd of 300,000 people –the largest single concert crowd in Argentine history as of 1982 – according to an article published at the time in the Washington Post . While playing massive stadiums might seem glamorous, the truth was much more gruesome; at the time Argentina was in the midst of its ‘Dirty War,’ an infamously violent campaign waged by Argentina’s military dictatorship against its left wing opponents. During this time, stadiums were used as prisons and moats were built around them to prevent people from escaping; Queen had to bring their own artificial turf to cover them, according to an article in Rolling Stone in 1981.
In the 2011 documentary Days Of Our Lives , the band remembers that their tour dates were initially met with resistance from the Argentine military dictatorship, which feared it would be politically dangerous to allow so many young people to gather in one space. While the government eventually relented, they sent armed guards to meet the band at the airport, and, according to a 2016 biography of Freddie Mercury written by Mark Langthorne and Matt Richards, likely used secret police to surveil the band during their stay.
Queen played Brazil next, performing at Estádio do Morumbi in Sao Paolo, and it was here that one of the most moving moments in Queen history happened, when 130,000 fans sang along to “Love Of My Life” – a scene recreated in the Bohemian Rhapsody biopic. At the time, few international bands viewed Brazil as an important tour destination, and the success of Queen’s shows there helped cement them as a must stop for bands touring in South America.
In Venezuela, Queen only played one of the three shows originally planned in the city of Caracas, since national mourning was called after former president Romulo Betancourt died. In Mexico, they played three shows, one in Monterrey and two in Puebla, during which Mercury was said to have appeared wearing an oversized sombrero, prompting the crowd to throw shoes at the band, according to a witness in the audience . Afterward, Freddie left the stage, thanking the crowd for their shoes and called the crowd a “bunch of tacos.”
Queen would only return to Brazil one more time in 1985 for the Rock In Rio festival before Mercury’s tragic death.
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40 Years Ago: Queen Reach Their U.S. Peak With ‘The Game’ Tour
Queen had every reason to feel positive when they opened the world tour in support of their eighth album, The Game , on June 30, 1980.
A 49-date U.S. run was ahead of them, the LP was released the same day and would go on to become their only No. 1 and “Another One Bites the Dust” would become their second chart-topping single from the record after “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” from the previous year.
Backstage, however, it wasn’t so straightforward. The Game – the band's first album to feature synthesizers , albeit in a minimal manner – was a difficult record to complete. “We struggled bitterly with each other,” guitarist Brian May told Mojo in 1999. “We were all frustrated with each other. I remember [bassist] John [Deacon] saying I didn't play the kind of guitar he wanted on his songs. We all tried to leave the band more than once. But then we'd come back to the idea that the band was greater than any of us. It was more enduring than most of our marriages.”
A total of 81 dates were booked worldwide over 17 months, including a record-breaking visit to South America and culminating with two nights at the Rock Montreal festival. As always, Queen invested heavily in putting on a memorable show, with running costs reportedly £25,000 a day, which equals about $180,000 a day in modern terms.
Synths wouldn’t begin to make an appearance at Queen live shows until 1982, which left May, Deacon, singer Freddie Mercury and drummer Roger Taylor continuing to focus the energy of four individuals on the challenge of replicating the feel of their multi-layered studio work.
Watch Queen Perform ‘Play the Game’ at Rock Montreal in 1981
“The flashy thing, that if it looks good and is well presented, then it can’t really have a substance," May told Melody Maker during the tour. "A couple of years ago that was at its peak, that if you had a decent light show and a good PA, that was selling out to commercialism. I think people have got over that, the groups that were successful from that period have started to go down the road we’ve gone down. If people are paying to see them, it’s worth being able to be heard properly and seen properly. It’s worth doing a complete show that people are satisfied with.”
He noted that "touring is certainly the most immediately fulfilling part of what we do, and it’s not really a big strain – mentally or physically – because we’re well organized, we know how to do it. All you have to worry about is playing well on the night. For me, it’s by far the best part of being in the band. Suddenly, life becomes simple again!”
May didn’t discuss the tensions that surrounded the making of the album album, but he did say that "on the whole, I wouldn’t have it any other way. … I think you need the balance, you need the studio to develop ideas. … But there is always somewhere new to conquer, as it were.”
Even amid the peak of interest in the States, the guitarist insisted that it wasn’t the band’s main ambition. “It’s an aim that affects everybody, even if they won’t admit it, that you’re progressing,” he reflected. "You get to play Madison Square Garden for one night, then two, then three. You’re reaching more people each time, and it’s a recognition that the people who enjoyed themselves the first time had come back and brought their friends. … Often, if you sell more records, it doesn’t mean that the quality of the record is any better, sometimes quite the opposite. But it’s something you do, another little force that propels you along.”
In the same interview, May recalled his first visit to the U.S. "We sold out a couple of nights in a small place, and I went to see Led Zeppelin at the Forum," he explained. "And I thought then, ‘Jesus Christ, if we can ever play here, that would be the ultimate dream come true!’”
Ironically, Queen’s final U.S. concert would take place in that very same venue in September 1982. By that time, The Game had sold 4 million copies, powered by the success of the tour. But the combined forces of changing musical tastes, the flop of the sci-fi movie Flash Gordon featuring Queen’s soundtrack , further personal issues and mainstream disapproval of Mercury’s lifestyle meant many Americans lost interest in the band.
“I remember suddenly realizing that we weren't packing them in quite as much as we used to,” Taylor said of their final appearance at the L.A. Forum in 1982. Queen had much more to offer the world during the rest of the decade, but mainstream American fans sat most of it out.
“We always assumed that we would go back,” May said in 1999. “But events overtook us. I know Freddie was very keen for that last album [ Innuendo ] to be accepted in the States. But we never got there. … Even the impact of Freddie’s death wasn't anything like as big as the impact of Wayne’s World . It wasn’t the same as in Europe.”
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Watch: Queen’s 1981 Montreal Concert Remastered; See Never-Before-Seen Photographs of the Band Taken by Security Guard
I n 1980, Queen was on top of the world. Their eighth album The Game went to No. 1 on the Billboard 200, while “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “Another One Bites the Dust” topped the Hot 100. At the time, late director Saul Swimmer approached the band about making a possible concert film. When Queen performed at the Montreal Forum in Canada in 1981 on November 24 and 25, Swimmer captured the band in all their essence for Queen Rock Montreal .
Originally released in 1981, the film has been digitally remastered for the first time for IMAX and will run for a limited time from January 18 through 21.
The film showcases Queen at their apex with Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon performing through a ferocious 26-song setlist featuring “We Will Rock You,” “Somebody To Love,” and the live debut of “Under Pressure,” along with “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Are The Champions,” and many more.
[RELATED: On This Day: Queen Scored Their First No. 1 Album with ‘A Night at the Opera’]
In 2007, nearly 30 years since the concert film premiered, the live album recording from the Montreal Forum dates, Queen Rock Montreal , was also released.
In the late 1970s, Walt “Wally” Versen was recruited along with five of his fellow football players from Northwestern College to work as the band’s security on their tour. “For the six of us, an already extraordinary journey took an unbelievable veer into the world of biggest-time rock and roll,” said Verson , who has remained friends with Brian May and is executive producing the upcoming documentary Play the Game: A Jock N Roll Stor y.
The security guard was also at the Montreal concert in ’81 and captured never-before-seen images of the band from his point of view backstage.
[RELATED: The Meaning and “Kingdom” Behind Freddie Mercury’s Early Rock Opera, Queen’s First Hit “Seven Seas of Rhye”]
Versen also played into Mercury’s stage theatrics. Mercury would oftentimes come on stage on the shoulders of security guards dressed as Superman and other characters in costume. Dressed as Darth Vader, Versen once carried Mercury out on his shoulders.
See two of Walt Versen’s personal photographs from the tour below:
Photo: Queen Rock Montreal Still / Courtesy of 42West PR
The post Watch: Queen’s 1981 Montreal Concert Remastered; See Never-Before-Seen Photographs of the Band Taken by Security Guard appeared first on American Songwriter .
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Queen in South America 1981.
When did Queen perform in South America?
Queen was one of the first major international rock bands to perform in South America, blazing a trail for many other artists in the years following. Queen headed there in early 1981 after completing the bulk of a tour promoting their smash hit album “The Game.” The first South American tour brought the band to Argentina and Brazil in February and March 1981.
The first Sao Paulo concert was attended by 131,000 fans and was a world record at that time for a paying audience. The 8.3.1981 gig was attended by the famous soccer player Maradona.
Queen also wanted to play in the huge Maracaná stadium in Rio De Janeiro, but unfortunately didn't get permission. American rockers Kiss did get to play their final show in makeup ( Until their 1996 reunion tour) there in 1983, before an estimated crowd of 137,000.
Queen Tour Dates in Argentina and Brazil
28.02.1981 Buenos Aires, Argentina 08.03.1981 Buenos Aires, Argentina
01.03.1981 Buenos Aires, Argentina 20.03.1981 Sao Paulo, Brazil
04.03.1981 Mar del Plata, Argentina 21.03.1981 Sao Paulo, Brazil
06.03.1981 Rosario, Argentina
The second series of shows took place in Venezuela and Mexico in September of 1981. Queen experienced heaps of problems in both legs of the tour but particularly in Venezuela and Mexico. Shortly after the tour, the Falklands War (between UK and Argentina) began and Queen never came back, although there were plans for another tour of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay for October and November 1983 (tickets and posters exist to prove that it was planned).
Two gigs in Caracas were cancelled because the president of the country died. There was also some confusion over the dates of the Puebla shows. Queen played there on October 17th and 18th, not on October 16th and 17th.
Queen Tour Dates in Venezuela and Mexico
25.09.1981 Caracas, Venezuela 09.10.1981 Monterrey, Mexico
26.09.1981 Caracas, Venezuela 17.10.1981 Puebla, Mexico
27.09.1981 Caracas, Venezuela 18.10.1981 Puebla, Mexico
What was Queen's Set List during the South American Tour - 1981
Typical setlist for the queen's tours..
02. We Will Rock You (fast)
03. Let Me Entertain You
04. Play The Game
05. Somebody To Love
06. Killer Queen
07. I'm In Love With My Car
08. Get Down Make Love
09. Save Me
10. Now I'm Here
11. Dragon Attack
12. Now I'm Here (reprise)
13. Fat Bottomed Girls
14. Love Of My Life
15. Keep Yourself Alive
16. Instrumental Inferno
18. The Hero
19. Crazy Little Thing Called Love
20. Bohemian Rhapsody
21. Tie Your Mother Down
22. Another One Bites The Dust
23. Sheer Heart Attack
24. We Will Rock You
25. We Are The Champions
26. God Save The Queen
(Mustapha was also played on the first leg.)
The set was much the same as the Japanese shows earlier in 1981 with some snippets from the Flash Gordon soundtrack being played. The soundtrack album was released in December 1980.
Fortunately, a number of the shows were filmed for TV and can be found online, although they do vary in video and audio quality. There have been no official releases of the material.
The excellent book by Queen roadie Peter Hince “Queen Unseen”, documents some of the trials and tribulations of performing in uncharted territory for a major rock band. During the South American tours, Queen and their crew had to cope with a myriad of issues logistical and financial to keep the show on the road. The final shows in Mexico were by all accounts not a pleasant experience for the band, who couldn't wait to get out of the country. Immediately going their separate ways for a well-earned rest.
Despite mostly enthusiastic crowds, heavy-handed security by the police and military made for a potentially volatile situation. Apart from the two “Rock in Rio” shows in Brazil in early 1985 the original band never returned to South America, although Brian May later did with his solo band. Queen and Adam Lambert have also played in South America in recent years.
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In June the mighty Queen machine rolled into action for the very last time with Freddie, and the Magic tour of Europe commenced. Using the biggest stage and lighting rig ever assembled, the band played mostly stadiums and some large arenas across Europe and the UK.
Following an unusually long period of rehearsal at Wembley in London during May and June, Queen travel to Stockholm for the first Magic Tour shows.
The Magic Tour incorporates the UK and nine European countries only. It is never taken to America, Japan or Canada, as were most other tours. It consists of twenty-six performances at twenty separate locations, played over an eight week period. It includes Queen’s first and only show in Budapest, Hungary, and also their only concert at the beautiful Knebworth Park site, in Hertfordshire.
Queen are again Britain’s most popular band and the UK shows break all attendance records like never before. The queue for tickets at Newcastle (the first show in England) was longer than that seen in 1974, when Newcastle United reached the FA Cup Final. All 38,000 tickets were sold within an hour. The proceeds from this show are donated by the band and promoter Harvey Goldsmith to the international Save The Children Fund.
At the two Wembley Stadium shows, the show itself incorporated the largest lighting rig ever assembled for a live show, weighing over nine and a half tons. The stage was the largest ever erected there and measured 160 ft wide and over 52 ft high from ground level to the top of the lights. It was capable of filling one entire end of Wembley and was so heavy that supports had to be bored into the concrete foundations of the stadium.
The second show is filmed by Tyne Tees Television, and later broadcast as their first ever radio / television simulcast, transmitted to all 48 stations in the Independent Radio Network. It is also released in edited form on home video and later a complete version is issued on DVD.
The Manchester show on July 16th sold out so quickly that it was reported that more than double the amount of tickets could have been sold for the 35,000 seat football venue, thus making Queen’s concert the fastest selling show in the history of the city.
They made history on July 27th when they played at the Nepstadion in Hungary. It was the first time that a major rock band had played a stadium date in the Eastern Bloc, and was filmed by the Hungarian Film State company Mafilm Dialog. The filming necessitates using nearly every available 35mm television camera in the country, seventeen in all. This show too would be released on home video and titled Live In Budapest.
Queen's final show of the tour took place at Knebworth Park on August 9th, with the 15th century mansion house being a fitting location for what would sadly prove to be Queen’s very last concert with Freddie. Before an audience variously estimated at between 160,000 and 200,000, Queen certainly went out in style.
Text taken from the forthcoming revised and updated edition of Queen Live: A Concert Documentary .
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- Flash Play Video
- Rock It (Prime Jive) Play Video
- We Will Rock You ( Fast ) Play Video
- Action This Day Play Video
- Play the Game Play Video
- Somebody to Love Play Video
- Now I'm Here Play Video
- Dragon Attack Play Video
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- Save Me Play Video
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- Get Down, Make Love Play Video
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- Body Language Play Video
- Under Pressure Play Video
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Edits and Comments
14 activities (last edit by sicko , 4 Oct 2021, 08:21 Etc/UTC )
Songs on Albums
- Another One Bites the Dust
- Crazy Little Thing Called Love
- Dragon Attack
- Play the Game
- Rock It (Prime Jive)
- Action This Day
- Body Language
- Calling All Girls
- Under Pressure
- We Will Rock You (2)
- Get Down, Make Love
- We Are the Champions
- Somebody to Love
- Tie Your Mother Down
- Now I'm Here (2)
- Bohemian Rhapsody
- Fat Bottomed Girls
- Guitar Solo
- God Save the Queen by [traditional]
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