|City:||Vancouver, BC, Canada|
|Date:||June 30, 1980|
This is the first show of The Game tour, which would turn out to be Queen's longest tour of North America. Since it is their current single, Play The Game is most likely performed for the first time at this show. It would be played at virtually every show through 1982.
'The Game' album is also released today. Freddie Mercury would later state it was his favourite Queen album.
Freddie's image has changed greatly, as he has grown a moustache. Many fans would react negatively to this transition to the macho gay look of the time, particularly evidenced by the razors thrown onto the stage at many shows over the next few months. On some nights Freddie would often ask audiences what they thought of his new look, usually receiving a mixed response, after which he'd pledge in one way or another to keep the moustache as it is.
Roger Taylor reflected on this period in a 2011 Sun interview: "He had some great-looking girlfriends and we were all jealous. Then he grew the moustache which represented the gay look. We got more publicity out of him growing that than if we'd all ridden naked down Oxford Street on an open-top bus."
Freddie has, however, entered a golden period for his voice. From late 1979 to 1982 he would be at the peak of his powers in concert, using his voice to great extents on most nights, singing creatively and passionately. Songs like Now I'm Here and Somebody To Love would become building blocks for his stage persona, something which he would master by 1986. He began smoking during this period though, and its effects would take its toll on his voice by 1984. In the meantime, this is Freddie Mercury in his prime.
The band have once again upgraded their lighting rig, giving their show startling visuals. The "Queen Rocks Montreal" official DVD release (filmed at the Montreal Forum in 1981) contains phenomenal footage of the lighting rig at the beginning of the show. This rig was known as both "Fly Swatters" (a bootleg of the Chicago area show would adopt this title), and the "Bic razor" rig. It was the first moving lighting rig ever assembled.
According to a review of the show from the July 2 Vancouver Sun, Brian May started Rock It in the wrong key, prompting Freddie to motion to Brian lower the key to where it should be (this would happen again in Montreal '82, the first show of their next North American tour). The review contends that the band were very under-rehearsed.
The concert pictures were taken by Doug Bower.
Here is a memory shared by a fan who attended the show:
"At the end of the show when Freddie was standing there and singing We Are The Champions, some guy at the front of the stage jumped up on the stage beside Freddie (you could see it startled him at first, understandably) and you could see the security guys started coming out until Freddie put his arm around the guy and finished the song that way. Then the guy jumped back down into the crowd and no harm done."
With the success of The Game album on this side of the Atlantic, Queen have chosen to focus on their newer material in concert. Like the Jazz tour, old songs are dropped to make room for new ones, and no old songs would be revived. With the exception of half of Keep Yourself Alive, it turns out they would never play any of their oldest material here again. These were the initial signs of Queen moving away from being a rock band to becoming more of a pop band, a paradigm shift which would ultimately bring them much international success.
It can be argued that the Crazy Little Thing Called Love and Another One Bites The Dust 45s were mostly bought by singles buyers rather than long-time Queen fans, and that these were the bulk of the fans who turned up at the concerts on this tour. Many fans felt alienated by the band, as they felt Queen were no longer treading new musical ground as they had done with their string of eclectic and innovative albums in the 70s. That said, most of the world (particularly Europe and South America) would embrace the more singles-oriented Queen.
For now, 1980 would be Queen's commercial peak in North America (The Game would hit #1 in September), and the band were surely enjoying it to the fullest.