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Ultimate Classic Rock

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.”

Queen Albums Ranked 

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Freddie Mercury’s London Home on Sale for $38 Million

where did queen tour in 1981

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.

where did queen tour in 1981

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This is the Best Ever Live Footage of Queen but the Band Absolutely Hated It

by twistedsifter

queen live montreal 1981 This is the Best Ever Live Footage of Queen but the Band Absolutely Hated It

In 1981, Queen—at their near peak—played two sold out shows at the Montreal Forum on November 24th and 25th. The shows were filmed and recorded in extremely high quality, however the shows were also rife with controversy. As lead guitarist Brian May explains:

Saul Swimmer had the idea that he could film a Queen concert, in a very high quality 35 mm double anamorphic way. For a start, we were not on tour, so all the sound and lights and production and CREW had to be reassembled just for this occasion, and we had to rehearse ourselves up to speed. Plus, we didn’t get on with Mr Saul Swimmer at all. Freddie in particular took an instant dislike to the man, and this turned to something like hatred, when we discovered on the first night that Swimmer had put up his own lights on the audience, changed the colours in our lights, and had cameras all over the stage … obviously we were not going to be able to treat it like a normal gig. It got worse on the second night, when Saul Swimmer demanded that Freddie wear the same clothes as the first night … and make the same moves … this guy had no idea that the show wasn’t choreographed … we basically did what we liked … So tempers flared … and it shows.

What you will see in this film is a very edgy, angry band, carving out a performance in a rather uncomfortable situation. But it does mean it’s very high energy, real, and raw. In addition, although the actual quality of the film was great, you will see camera work from camera men who did not remotely know the show, directed by a director who didn’t know the show either. The subsequent editing was consequently chaotic. They cobbled together bits of both shows visually, choosing the bits where the cameras had found the right person at the right time. They then matched up the sound as best they could, but there were many bits where you were hearing sound from one night, but watching the visuals from the other. Still, the film went out, and WAS seen by a lot of people in a ‘Live’ situation.

Finally, we bought the whole thing off Swimmer last year (2006) with the kind help of Eagle Rock. Finally it could be sorted. The work that has gone into rescuing it is immense … I can’t even get into all the details, but Justin Shirley-Smith, and Kris Fredriksson have put nine months of loving care into rebirthing this baby … It involved finding the master 24-track tapes, figuring out how they had been chopped up, digitally copying them, and rebuilding them into complete performances, and then after much cleaning up, making a splendid new mix in 5.1 surround.

The visuals were in a sense harder. The surviving negative went to be doctored in the USA — by a process using using algorithms invented by John D Lowry of NASA for rescuing the film from the Apollo Moon missions. (Astrophysics gets everywhere!) You know how quick computers are these days … ? Well, to give you an idea of the huge number-crunching involved, it took 700 Apple Mac G5’s one MONTH to process this film. The computation compares a frame with the ones before it and the ones after, and uses the comparison to remove dirt, scratches and some of the defects of the original filming. In the case of the feature film Singing in the Rain … it apparently removed the RAIN! So adjustments had to be made! In our case it worked well, as you will see — the quality is magnificent — particularly noticeable in the incredible close-ups of Freddie in “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

Having said this, the close up of Freddie is just about all you will see in “Bo Rap”. Saul Swimmer’s editors made their selection of shots to use, and the footage they left on the cutting room floor has never been seen again. So no proper re-edit of the visuals was possible. It’s kinda sad, because in addition to all the cut-aways we might have liked to use, bits of songs are missing, and the whole of “Flash” and “The Hero” will never be seen because the visuals don’t exist. These tracks ARE however on the CD version of Queen Rock Montreal — and sound great! And in view of what happened later, no-one is upset now that this is a document which concentrates on Freddie.

So our boys, stuck with very few options, were still able to restore all the songs to their full length, and, with modern digital artistry, make lots of improvements. But to end up with a version that is much much more true to what actually happened at any given moment, Justin and Kris mostly had to match up all the sound bites to picture. It’s a great piece of work.

Well, Maybe I’ve spoiled it for you by telling you all this, but I wanted you to appreciate the work that’s gone into it, and how worthwhile the project has been, made possible by Eagle Rock. And I do find that once I’m five minutes into the film, I’m caught up in it as a real live show.

These are just a few of the standout moments from the Montreal shows. You can find the entire 24 song setlist/concert on YouTube here . Cheers to Chief Mouse for the epic upload! Once again you can watch it all here .

Categories: ART , BEST OF , HISTORY , MUSIC , STORIES Tags: · compilation , history , live , music , performance , queen , top , vintage

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where did queen tour in 1981

In February the band leave London and fly to Japan, where the band undertake a series of five consecutive shows at the Budokan in Tokyo. As with all tours in Japan there are no support bands, and they play before capaicity audiences of 12,000.

Their first ever tour in South America commences on 28 February, where they play huge football stadiums in Argentina and Brazil. After arriving in Buenos Aires they are greeted at the airport by their own music playing over the public address system. The band are also permitted to bypass lengthy arrival procedures, at the express orders of Argentina’s President.

The band return to South America in September for the second leg of the tour where concerts in Venezuela and Mexico are performed. Two other shows in Venezuela (September 29 and 30) are cancelled when former President Romulo Betancourt dies and the country’s population goes into a period of mourning. Betancourt’s deteriorating health had already jeopardised three shows, but he’d held on long enough for them to go ahead.

The last two concerts of the year take place in Canada on November 24th and 25th at Montreal's Forum which are to be filmed. The shows are organised purely because the band want to put together a full length film to properly document their live show. The original idea was to show the film outdoors, but various problems resulted and the idea was cancelled. It was decided that the film would show better at inside venues in America, and was shown throughout 1983. The eventual release of the film was a long and

frustrating process, and then taking nearly three years to get from the concert stage and eventually into UK cinemas and onto home video in 1984.

Text taken from the forthcoming revised and updated edition of Queen Live: A Concert Documentary .

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They’d already written ‘We Are The Champions’, but Queen in the 80s were a truly unstoppable force that helped define the decade.

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Queen In The 80s web optimised 1000 CREDIT Queen Productions Ltd

The 70s had been a momentous decade for Queen . Their albums had sold tens of millions and their hit singles – including ‘We Are the Champions’, ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ – were anthem-like cultural landmarks. Queen in the 80s, however, took it up another level with an era-defining pop-rock sound that turned them into the biggest band in the world.

In the summer of 1979, the four members of Queen – Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon and Freddie Mercury – relocated to Munich to work on a new record and a different sound. At Musicland Studios they began working with German producer and engineer Reinhold Mack (known simply as Mack), who helped them find a new path. Mack, who had engineered some of Electric Light Orchestra’s most acclaimed records, had been steeped in music since childhood, as part of a family whose business was selling musical instruments. He even helped persuade May to play a Telecaster guitar during the sessions, rather than his famous homemade Red Special .

For their first album of the 80s, Queen recorded their most accessible and pop-oriented record to date: The Game  was a commercial triumph that earned Mack a Grammy nomination as a producer. The 34-year-old Mercury, who had spent much of his childhood in India, had grown up loving the boisterous music of Little Richard and Fats Domino , and his songwriting for the album reflected the energy of the early rock pioneers. ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’, a song written while taking a bubble bath at Hotel Bayerischer Hof, in Munich, was a monster hit. “I’m a loving person. Love was the inspiration for the song,” Mercury said.

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Queen - Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Official Video)

The band known for stadium rock began to woo America with a different sound: a Chic-like bassline mixed with a nod to rockabilly. The song’s parent album, which was released on 30 June 1980, sold four million copies in the US and provided Queen with their first stateside No.1.

“This is good, dear…”

After attending a Queen concert in Los Angeles, Michael Jackson suggested that one of bassist Deacon’s songs was ideal for the pop charts. Drummer Taylor recalled: “I remember Michael and some of his brothers in the dressing room going on and on about ‘Another One Bites The Dust’. They kept saying we must release it as a single.” Issued in October 1980, as the third single from The Game , the song stayed at No.1 for three weeks. “I always thought there was an instant where we were the biggest thing in the world,” Brian May recalled. “‘Another One Bites The Dust’ sort of clinched it, because it suddenly crossed over to the black R&B market.”

Queen - Another One Bites the Dust (Official Video)

As well as writing catchy lyrics, Queen were still excelling at their harmony singing and trying something new melodically. The use of a synthesiser for the first time on a Queen album was a signal that the future would be different. “I’m afraid that was my fault,” May explained. “I’d bought this Oberheim polyphonic synth. I showed it to Fred, and immediately he was like, ‘Oh, this is good, dear…’”

The band’s experimentation continued with funky material such as ‘Dragon Attack’. More complex songs replaced the guitar-based anthems of the 70s, and the public loved the new direction. Taylor said: “Suddenly instead of a million albums, we were selling three or four million albums. And at that time, that was about as much as anyone had ever done. This was before the days of Thriller , where things got totally out of hand.”

At this time, Queen were also working on the largely instrumental soundtrack for the Dino De Laurentiis-produced movie Flash Gordon , which yielded the hit single ‘Flash’. That single included a memorable piece of dialogue from actor Brian Blessed, as he shouts the iconic line, “Gordon’s alive!” May, who wrote much of the soundtrack, also played synthesiser on the album.

Queen - Flash (Official Video)

No pressure

In the latter part of 1981, following a record-breaking tour of South America that had included playing to 300,000 spectators in Buenos Aires, Queen returned to Europe (Switzerland and Germany) to record their next album, Hot Space , again co-produced by Mack. The highlight was working with David Bowie on the single ‘Under Pressure’. The collaboration was spontaneous. Bowie had been due to sing backing vocals with the band at the Mountain Studio in Montreux but, during an impromptu jam session, they came up with the memorable song.

The four members of Queen, and Bowie, were credited as songwriters on a track that hit No.1 in the UK and which has been voted the second best collaboration of all time by Rolling Stone magazine. Another stand-out track on Hot Space was ‘Life Is Real (Song For Lennon)’, Mercury’s tribute to the recently murdered Beatles star .

Queen - Under Pressure (Official Video)

The album, with a broad disco-funk approach, was a divisive one for 70s Queen fans who wanted a return to the band’s earlier hard rock sound. Mercury was even prompted to appeal to the audience during a show at the Milton Keynes Bowl in 1982, saying, “Most of you know that we got some new sounds out. For what it’s worth, we’re gonna do a few songs in the funk black category, whatever you call it. That doesn’t mean we’ve lost our rock’n’roll feel, OK. I mean it’s only a bloody record! People get so excited about these things. We just want to try out a few new sounds.”

“People were so shocked ”

May said that the band were at a crunch point when “we were not only the biggest group in America, but probably the biggest in the world”. The money and accolades flowed. Queen had sold more than 45 million records worldwide and, in 1982, entered The Guinness Book Of Records as Britain’s highest-paid executives.

They kept experimenting, though. Taylor’s drum-machine-driven ‘Radio Ga Ga’, from the 1984 album The Works , reached No.1 in 19 different countries, helped by a vibrant music video. Perhaps the most memorable song on the album, however, was ‘I Want To Break Free’, which was a hit in most places apart from North America. The video, directed by David Mallet, featured the band members dressed up in drag, parodying the British television soap series Coronation Street . May later said they were caught by an unexpected backlash that included MTV banning the video: “I remember being out on promotion and people being so shocked. I remember presenters going white and not wanting to be a part of that.”

Queen - I Want To Break Free (Official Video)

A turning point was just around the corner. Bob Geldof extended an invitation for Queen to play at the Live Aid concert on 13 July 1985, held to raise money for victims of famine in Ethiopia. Though Queen had qualms – they didn’t like performing in daylight and had concerns over the sound quality – they decided to take part.

A truly charismatic Mercury gave an inspired performance at Wembley Stadium. Mercury began by sitting at the piano, playing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, and then powered through a collection of hits, with 72,000 people joining in with the lyrics and clapping and swaying in complete unison. His stage presence was mesmerising. May said: “I’d never seen anything like that in my life and it wasn’t calculated either… it was the greatest day of our lives.”

Even fellow superstar musicians understood the impact of Queen’s set. Elton John found the band in their trailer and joked: “You bastards, you stole the show!”

Queen At Live Aid web optimised 740 CREDIT Queen Productions Ltd

“You bastards, you stole the show!” Queen at Live Aid. Photo: Queen Productions Ltd

Making ‘Ben-Hur’ look like ‘The Muppets’

Two months later they began work on the album A Kind Of Magic , making plans for a world tour the following summer. “We are probably the best live band in the world at the moment,” said Taylor, “and we are going to prove it… the tour will make Ben-Hur look like The Muppets .”

As well as recording in Germany and Switzerland again, Queen also cut some of the tracks for the album at the historic British studio Abbey Road. A Kind Of Magic  sold six million copies, the title track was a hit single worldwide and demand for the ensuing tour was phenomenal. The final date, at Knebworth Park, on 9 August 1986, was watched by 200,000 fans.

At this moment of triumph, however, disaster loomed. Early in 1987, Mercury was diagnosed with AIDS; within five years he would be dead. In the intervening years, he worked with passion and dedication in a frenzy of creativity that would produce enough material for three Queen albums: 1989’s The Miracle , 1991’s Innuendo and the posthumous Made In Heaven . Mercury also did some solo work, including the 1988 album Barcelona , which gave him the opportunity to sing a duet with Spanish opera great Montserrat Caballé.

Queen - Was It All Worth It (Official Lyric Video)

When The Miracle – which included the moving song ‘Was it all Worth it?’ – was finished, Mercury told the band about his illness. Taylor recalled: “He decided to just invite us all over to the house for a meeting.” He remembered Mercury saying: “You probably realise what my problem is. Well, that’s it and I don’t want it to make a difference. I don’t want it to be known. I don’t want to talk about it. I just want to get on and work until I f__king well drop. I’d like you to support me in this.”

It was the only time they directly discussed his possible impending death.

“The whole point was to be original ”

As the 80s ended, Queen were given a British Phonographic Industry award for their contribution to British music. Their contribution had been immense. By the time they started recording the album Innuendo , in March 1989, Mercury was gravely ill, though he bravely performed in the video for ‘These Are The Days Of Our Lives’, a song which marked a return to the band’s compelling hard rock sound of the 70s.

Mercury was 45 when he died, of bronchopneumonia resulting from AIDS, on 24 November 1991. Aretha Franklin sang at his funeral and the whole music world recognised the lasting legacy of Queen.

The band had helped define the 80s in their own inimitable way. As Mercury said: “The whole point of Queen was to be original.”

Listen to the best of Queen on Apple Music and Spotify .

Maria Mollenkopf

April 13, 2020 at 5:53 pm

Miss the sound and Freddie Mercury. The best showman in history!

October 7, 2021 at 5:50 am

Franklin herself did not sing at Freddie’s funeral. A recording of her singing a gospel song was played as the coffin was carried inside the chapel. The ceremony ended with an aria recorded by Montserrat Cabbelle.

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  • November 24, 1981 Setlist

Queen Setlist at Forum de Montréal, Montreal, QC, Canada

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  • We Will Rock You ( Fast ) Play Video
  • Let Me Entertain You Play Video
  • Play the Game Play Video
  • Somebody to Love Play Video
  • Killer Queen ( Brian May played a snippet of "Under Pressure" when Freddie was interacting with the crowd ) Play Video
  • I'm in Love With My Car Play Video
  • Get Down, Make Love Play Video
  • Save Me Play Video
  • Now I'm Here Play Video
  • Dragon Attack Play Video
  • Now I'm Here ( Reprise ) Play Video
  • Love of My Life Play Video
  • Under Pressure ( live debut ) Play Video
  • Keep Yourself Alive ( Starts with a jam based on a bass riff from "Back Chat" ) Play Video
  • Drum Solo Play Video
  • Guitar Solo ( Includes riffs from "I Go Crazy" and "Brighton Rock" ) Play Video
  • Flash Play Video
  • The Hero Play Video
  • Crazy Little Thing Called Love Play Video
  • Bohemian Rhapsody Play Video
  • Tie Your Mother Down Play Video
  • Another One Bites the Dust Play Video
  • Sheer Heart Attack Play Video
  • Jailhouse Rock ( Elvis Presley  cover) Play Video
  • We Will Rock You Play Video
  • We Are the Champions Play Video
  • Song played from tape God Save the Queen ( [traditional]  song) Play Video

Note: Originally partly released in VHS as "We Will Rock You: Queen Live in Montreal" and latter re-released on CD, DVD and Blu-Ray: "Rock Montreal"

Edits and Comments

48 activities (last edit by allenz , 21 Jan 2024, 19:48 Etc/UTC )

Songs on Albums

  • We Will Rock You (2)
  • Get Down, Make Love
  • Sheer Heart Attack
  • We Are the Champions
  • Another One Bites the Dust
  • Crazy Little Thing Called Love
  • Dragon Attack
  • Play the Game
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • I'm in Love With My Car
  • Love of My Life
  • Now I'm Here (2)
  • Killer Queen
  • Somebody to Love
  • Tie Your Mother Down
  • Guitar Solo
  • Under Pressure
  • Let Me Entertain You
  • Keep Yourself Alive
  • Jailhouse Rock by Elvis Presley

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where did queen tour in 1981

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where did queen tour in 1981

Setlist History: Queen’s Final Show With Freddie Mercury

Queen gig timeline.

  • Oct 17 1981 Estadio Ignacio Zaragoza Puebla de Zaragoza, Mexico Add time Add time
  • Oct 18 1981 Estadio Ignacio Zaragoza Puebla de Zaragoza, Mexico Add time Add time
  • Nov 24 1981 Forum de Montréal This Setlist Montreal, QC, Canada Add time Add time
  • Nov 25 1981 Forum de Montréal Montreal, QC, Canada Add time Add time
  • Apr 09 1982 Scandinavium Gothenburg, Sweden Add time Add time

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where did queen tour in 1981

This page is an overview of Queen's live career between 1970 and 1976. 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. One song mentioned on this page is the unreleased song ' Hangman ', full details and lyrics of which can be found on the Unreleased Songs page.

1970 UK Concerts (12) 1971 UK Concerts (20) 1972 UK Concerts (5) 1973 Miscellaneous Concerts (7) 1973 UK Tour (31) 1974 Australian Sunbury Music Festival (1) 1974 Queen II UK Tour (22) 1974 Queen II USA Tour (19) 1974 Sheer Heart Attack UK/European Tour (30) 1975 Sheer Heart Attack North American Tour (40) 1975 Sheer Heart Attack Japanese Tour (8) 1975 A Night At The Opera UK Tour (26) 1976 A Night At The Opera USA Tour (32) 1976 A Night At The Opera Japanese/Australian Tour (19) 1976 UK Miscellaneous Concerts (4)

5 February 1973 - first BBC session, recorded at Langham One Studio, London - My Fairy King , Keep Yourself Alive , Doing Alright and Liar

25 July 1973 - second BBC session, recorded at Langham One Studio, London - See What A Fool I've Been , Keep Yourself Alive , Liar and Son And Daughter

3 December 1973 - third BBC session, recorded at Langham One Studio, London - Ogre Battle , Modern Times Rock 'n' Roll , Great King Rat and Son And Daughter

3 April 1974 - fourth BBC session, recorded at Langham One Studio, London - Modern Times Rock 'n' Roll , Nevermore and White Queen (As It Began)

16 October 1974 - fifth BBC session, recorded at Maida Vale Studio, London - Now I'm Here , Stone Cold Crazy , Flick Of The Wrist and Tenement Funster

Queen at Live Aid: the real story of how one band made rock history

Queen's Live Aid performance has become the stuff of legend – we look back at how the iconic set really happened

Queen Live Aid

Queen 's Live Aid performance in July 1985 may have clocked in at just 17 minutes, but they were 17 minutes which would both make rock history and transform the band for good. Though they'd enjoyed continued success with their platinum-selling 11th album The Works in 1984, as the mid-80s beckoned, frontman Freddie Mercury found himself disillusioned and searching for something new. 

“We were all forming a sort of a rut," Mercury said at the time. "I wanted to get out of this last 10 years of what we were doing. It was so routine. It was like, go to the studio, do an album, go out on the road, go round the world and flog it to death, and by the time you came back it was time to do another album. After a while itʼs like a painter… you know, you paint away, and then you stand back and look at it in perspective. Thatʼs exactly what we needed. We just needed to be away from each other, otherwise you just keep going in that routine and you donʼt even know if youʼre going down.”

The answer, it turned out, was Live Aid. A benefit show pulled together by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure in aid of the Ethiopian famine, the concert – dubbed by the organising parties as "the day music changed the world" – brought together some of rock's biggest stars over two venues in London and Philadelphia. In a day filled with memorable performances – here's looking at you, Led Zeppelin – Queen's Live Aid performance truly stole the show. 

where did queen tour in 1981

The 50 best Queen songs of all time

We asked, you voted: here are the 50 songs Queen fans deemed champions of them all

Kicking off with an abridged version of 1975 mega-hit Bohemian Rhapsody , Queen's Live Aid setlist tore through a medley of their best-loved hits: Radio Ga Ga gave way to Hammer To Fall , before Crazy Little Thing Called Love , We Will Rock You and a rousing We Are The Champions closed their set. This was all before Mercury and guitarist Brian May stole the stage during the show's grand finale with their acoustic rendition of Is This The World We Created? – a moment on which Mercury later remarked: “It looks as if we wrote Is This the World We Created? for this event, but we didn’t, although it seems to fit the bill.”

The performance helped transform them into a wonderfully camp, sleek and ubiquitous rock band, and the biggest British live act of the 80s. That their Live Aid performance provides the start and end point of recent biopic Bohemian Rhapsody further illustrates the pivotal moment the band's remaining members feel it played in defining their career. 

Admittedly, a renaissance of sorts had begun with the videos for The Works singles Radio Ga-Ga and I Want To Break Free. But it was their performance at Live Aid, where they were the only band smart enough to work out how to play all of their hits in miniature, that bought them back big-time – even though they hadn't appeared on the Band Aid single, and they had incurred the wrath of Steve Van Zandt after they played in Sun City in apartheid-era South Africa.

Queen at Live Aid 1985 - Bohemian Rhapsody at Live Aid 1985

“I would have loved to have been on the Band Aid record, but I only heard about it when I was in Germany,” Mercury said later. “I donʼt know if they would have had me on the record anyway, because Iʼm a bit old. Iʼm just an old slag who gets up every morning, scratches his head and wonders what he wants to fuck.”

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Before the Live Aid event, Freddie was clearer on his motivation for the show: “Iʼm not doing it out of guilt. Even if I didnʼt do it, the poverty would still be there. Itʼs something that will always be there, to be honest, when you think about it. All we can do to help is wonderful things. Iʼm doing it out of pride, pride that Iʼve been asked as well as that I can actually do something like that. And so basically Iʼm doing it out of feeling that one way all the hard work that Iʼve actually done over the years has paid off, because theyʼre actually asking me to do something to be proud of. 

"Iʼm actually in with all the biggies and I can do something worthwhile. To actually sing something thatʼs an integral part of whatʼs going on, you know, and the song [ We Are The Champions ] seems to convey that anyway, without us thinking about it. Thatʼs whatʼs magical, and I think thatʼs going to probably bring tears to my eyes, I tell you, when I do it.”

Legend has it that Bob Geldofʼs invitation to Queen to play at Live Aid ran along the lines of: “Tell the old faggot itʼs going to be the biggest thing ever…” Freddie, naturally, found that irresistible.

“I think Bob Geldof has done a wonderful thing, because he actually sparked it off. Iʼm sure we all had it in us to do that, but it took someone like him to actually drive. And it is like a driving force, to get us all to come together. Weʼre going to do bits of Bohemian Rhapsody [but] basically, youʼre not trying to put across your new material or anything like that, youʼre playing songs that people identify with, and just make it a happy occasion. Itʼs not a promotional thing, itʼs a thing where you just have sit back and think what you can do.”

Queen - Radio Gaga at Live Aid 1985

It was Geldof who best summed up the mood of Live Aid 1985 and Queenʼs impact on it. “Queen were absolutely the best band of the day,” he remembered. “They played the best, had the best sound, used their time to the full. They understood the idea exactly, that it was a global jukebox. They just went and smashed one hit after another. It was the perfect stage for Freddie: the whole world. And he could ponce about on stage doing We Are The Champions . How perfect could it get?”

Freddieʼs long-term lover, Jim Hutton, had never been to a gig before Live Aid. In his memoir Freddie And Me he described the aftermath of Queenʼs all-conquering Live Aid performance on that historic day at Wembley Stadium: “When he came off, he rushed to his trailer and I tottered behind like a puppy. His first words were: Thank God thatʼs over!ʼ Joe ripped his wet clothes from him and dressed him. Adrenalin still overflowing, Freddie knocked back a large vodka to calm himself. Then his face lit up. As we stepped out of the caravan we met a grinning Elton John . “You bastards…” he said to Freddie.

Mercury was so good that day that the Royal Mail put him on a commemorative stamp. Just visible behind him in the Peter Blake design is Roger Taylor, who, given Freddieʼs more exotic origins, became the first living Englishman ever depicted on a British postage stamp.

Queen rotated around the stadiums of the world after Live Aid 1985. After their jaded years, they enjoyed an Indian summer of a career, having cemented their place as one of history's true great rock'n'roll bands.

Queen's Live Aid setlist

  • Bohemian Rhapsody (first half only)
  • Radio Ga Ga
  • Ay‐Oh (vocal improvisation)
  • Hammer To Fall
  • Crazy Little Thing Called Love
  • We Will Rock You (first verse and chorus only)
  • We Are The Champions

Classic Rock is the online home of the world's best rock'n'roll magazine. We bring you breaking news, exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes features, as well as unrivalled access to the biggest names in rock music; from Led Zeppelin to Deep Purple, Guns N’ Roses to the Rolling Stones, AC/DC to the Sex Pistols, and everything in between. Our expert writers bring you the very best on established and emerging bands plus everything you need to know about the mightiest new music releases.

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where did queen tour in 1981

Queen Tribute Band Live Audience

  • Mar 24, 2021

Queen in South America 1981.

where did queen tour in 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

where did queen tour in 1981

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.

where did queen tour in 1981

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.

where did queen tour in 1981

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The ‘Queen Rock Montreal’ Concert Doc Is Now Streaming on Disney+

By Anna Tingley

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how to watch queen rock montreal concert film online streaming

If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Variety may receive an affiliate commission.

“ Queen Rock Montreal,” the first concert film available with Imax Enhanced sound by DTS, is now streaming on Disney+.

When it arrived in theaters in January, the remastered 1981 concert was Imax’s biggest exclusive engagement. Now, it’s arrived on the streamer alongside 18 Marvel films also offered with Imax Enhanced sound on supported devices.

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The new arrival is the latest in a longtime relationship between Imax and Disney Entertainment. Marvel movies that will also be available with Imax Enhanced sound at launch include “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Avengers: Endgame,” “Black Panther,” “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” “Guardians of the Galaxy (Volumes 2 and 3),” “Black Widow” and “Doctor Strange.”

In addition to the remastered concert film marking Imax’s plan to distribute more concert movies, it also marks Disney’s continued interest in concert films. Also exclusively available to stream on Disney+ is “Elton John Live: Farewell From Dodger Stadium,” “Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming,” “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour,” and dozens more. Most recently, The Beatles’ doc “Let It Be” just re-premiered on the streamer last month.

Stream “ Queen Rock Montreal ,” and check out more titles now streaming on Disney+ below:

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    Summer Gigs 1976. Queen played four shows during a short UK tour during September 1976. Beginning on 1 September, Queen played in Edinburgh, as well as on the following night on 2 September. On 10 September, they played in Cardiff, which was Queen's second and final show in the city, having played there on the previous tour in 1975.

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  5. 40 Years Ago: Queen Reach Their U.S. Peak With 'The Game' Tour

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  8. Queen on tour: S. America Bites The Dust 1981

    21.03.1981 Sao Paulo, Brazil. 06.03.1981 Rosario, Argentina. The first Sao Paulo concert was attended by 131000 fans and that was a world record at that time. The 8.3.1981 gig was attended by the famous soccer player Maradona. Queen also wanted to play on the huge Maracaná stadium in Rio De Janeiro but didn't get permission.

  9. Queen Rock Montreal 1981 (Full)

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  10. QueenOnline.com

    1981. In February the band leave London and fly to Japan, where the band undertake a series of five consecutive shows at the Budokan in Tokyo. As with all tours in Japan there are no support bands, and they play before capaicity audiences of 12,000. Their first ever tour in South America commences on 28 February, where they play huge football ...

  11. Queen Concertography 1982-1986

    Queen had also hoped to play at the Royal Albert Hall, but there were fears that the ceiling would collapse under the weight of the lighting rig. The tour featured Morgan Fisher on keyboards and synths. 1. 9 April 1982 - Scandinavium, Gothenburg, Sweden 2. 10 April 1982 - Ice Stadium, Stockholm, Sweden 3. 12 April 1982 - Drammenshallen, Oslo ...

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    Guests at Queen concerts [1970-1986] Billy Squier - 15.09.1982 Los Angeles, USA (vocals in Jailhouse Rock) Fish - 21.06.1986 Mannheim, Germany (vocals in Tutti Frutti) John Reid + crew - 22.12.1977 Los Angeles, USA (vocals in White Christmas) Maradona - 08.03.1981 Buenos Aires, Argentina (only said a couple words before AOBTD)

  13. Gigography 1980

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  16. What happened when Queen conquered South America

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    No pressure. In the latter part of 1981, following a record-breaking tour of South America that had included playing to 300,000 spectators in Buenos Aires, Queen returned to Europe (Switzerland ...

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  19. Queen Concert Setlist at Forum de Montréal, Montreal on November 24

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  20. Queen Concertography 1970-1976

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  21. Queen at Live Aid: the real story of how one band made rock history

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  22. Queen (band)

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  23. Queen in South America 1981.

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  24. How to Watch 'Queen Rock Montreal' Online Streaming

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