City: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Venue: Barra da Tijuca
Date: January 12, 1985

Machines (tape), Tear It Up, Tie Your Mother Down, Under Pressure, Somebody To Love, Killer Queen, Seven Seas Of Rhye, Keep Yourself Alive, Liar, It's A Hard Life, Dragon Attack, Now I'm Here, Is This The World We Created?, Love Of My Life, guitar solo, Brighton Rock (ending), Another One Bites The Dust, Mustapha (intro), Hammer To Fall, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Bohemian Rhapsody, Radio Ga Ga, I Want To Break Free, Jailhouse Rock, We Will Rock You, We Are The Champions, God Save The Queen


Queen headlined two nights of the 10-day Rock In Rio festival in 1985, the biggest music festival in history to date. Also headlining two nights each were AC/DC, Yes, and Rod Stewart. Queen played on January 11 and 18, but they hit the stage around 2am each night, technically dating the performances the 12th and 19th respectively. They set a record for paying attendance, playing to 250,000 people each night - the biggest audiences they would ever play for. Some sources say the band played to as many as 350,000 (or even 470,000) on the first night.

The band give very solid performances on both nights, and Freddie sounds especially good on the first night than on most nights of the Works tour (which is undoubtedly why most of the audio used for the pending official VHS/betamax release would come from the first night).

Freddie mistakenly sings the end of the first chorus of Under Pressure like the second chorus. Needing to deliver the second chorus differently, he sings it with such beauty and conviction. These qualities remain with him for a great version of Somebody To Love, showing a sense of vocal strength that hadn't been seen in him since the Hot Space tour.

In the second verse of Killer Queen, Freddie sings, "Perfume came naturally from Rio," a trick he used back in the late 70s.

He later messes up the lyrics of the first verse of It's A Hard Life, as seen on the video. These minor blunders can be excused by the sheer rush of performing for a quarter million people, which no doubt was his first priority.

After singing "I still love you" in Love Of My Life, Freddie passionately shouts, "And don't you forget it!"

Brian May used an EBow off the top of his solo spot for the first time since 1978. He last used it on stage in 1982 for Get Down Make Love.

Freddie wore his oversized boobs for I Want To Break Free as per usual, and the British press reported that the gag upset many audience members as the song was an anthem for the people of South America. They wrote how the audience's negative reaction prompted Freddie to take his boobs off part way through the song, but this was always part of the act as planned. One article even went as far as to say Bruce Dickinson (of Iron Maiden, who performed earlier in the day) saw Freddie in tears backstage after the show wondering why the audience reacted as they did. But in retrospect, this can likely be seen as the press manufacturing a good story, capitalizing on the band's recent issues after playing in South Africa a few months prior.

This article definitely exaggerates things, as an uncut video reveals that nothing was being thrown at Freddie to dodge (also contrary to the article is the chronology of events, as Radio Ga Ga came before I Want To Break Free in the setlist, not after). In light of all this, Freddie wouldn't wear his falsies at next week's show, as seen on the Live In Rio video.

Freddie makes his entrance for We Will Rock You holding a giant British flag behind him. Before singing the first verse he turns around and reveals a Brazilian flag embroidered to it, prompting a huge roar from the audience. At the end of the concert, he tosses the flag into the audience.

James Taylor played the following night, and his bassist, Leland Sklar, had this to say about Queen's performance in a 2018 Bass Player magazine article: "It took me a day to lift my jaw off the floor. I sat with my mouth agape watching one of the most professional shows I'd ever seen."

After the show, EMI threw a party in Queen's honour at the Copacabana Palace Hotel. On the beach outside the hotel, some fans had gathered for a candle-lighting vigil, where 1,500 candles spelled out the word "Queen", as seen in the last three pictures above. Security tried to keep the enthusiastic crowd away from Brian May who was coming out of the hotel, very touched by the gesture of the fans. After he lit the last few candles, he stayed around to sign autographs. Not long afterward he jumped into the pool fully clothed.

About a minute of soundcheck (bits of Radio Ga Ga and Jailhouse Rock filmed on January 8) was shown on Brazilian TV around this time. Also, a few songs were soon shown on Globo TV: Somebody To Love, Love Of My Life, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Radio Ga Ga, and We Are The Champions (Hammer To Fall and I Want To Break Free were apparently broadcast as well, but no known copies have emerged).

A 60-minute compilation of both nights in Rio would be officially released on VHS, simply entitled "Live In Rio", shortly after the concerts - only four months later. Like the "We Will Rock You" video from Montreal '81, upon its release it would debut in the British video charts at number one.

Also like the Montreal video, the picture and audio aren't always from the same night. The picture fluctuates from night to night, often during songs, but that is the extent of the editing - no overdubs on the audio were done (other than adding artificial audience noise throughout much of it). Here is the video's track listing, with the italicized songs taking the audio from the first night:

Machines (tape), Tie Your Mother Down, Seven Seas of Rhye, Keep Yourself Alive, Liar [cut], It's A Hard Life, Now I'm Here, Is This The World We Created?, Love Of My Life, guitar solo [cut], Brighton Rock (ending), Hammer To Fall, Bohemian Rhapsody, Radio Ga Ga, I Want To Break Free, We Will Rock You, We Are The Champions, God Save The Queen

While in Japan in May, Brian and John appeared on MTV Japan to promote the VHS release. While talking briefly about the Rio show, Brian modestly says, "Lots of people came." He then humourously plugs the station. "Don't stop watching MTV. In fact, keep watching MTV." About seven minutes of short clips from both nights are then shown (Another One Bites The Dust, Tie Your Mother Down, Killer Queen, It's A Hard Life, Dragon Attack, Love Of My Life, the guitar solo, Hammer To Fall, Bohemian Rhapsody and Radio Ga Ga are from the first night), some of which weren't on the VHS release. The snippet of the guitar solo is actually a section that was cut from the official release.

Three songs were shown on TV in Brazil not long after the show (including the infamous version of I Want To Break Free).

In 1985, Hammer To Fall from this show was released in the UK as a 12" promo single.

Bits of the Rio footage were used in the promo video for One Vision later in the year.

The audio of the official release was broadcast on MTV FM on February 15, 1986.

In 2007, Masterplan released the same 60 minutes of footage on DVD, but it seems to be a pirate copy. The picture on the cover was taken on The Game tour.

It's A Hard Life and Is This The World We Created from this show were released on disc 2 of the 2011 deluxe edition of The Works. Freddie's vocal flub in the former was patched in with the second night, and compression and reverb were added to the drums.

In 2015 Globo TV aired an hour long special commemorating the 30th anniversary of the festival, including clips of Under Pressure and Love Of My Life - both of which were not seen on the official release. One notable piece of commentary is from Brazilian singer Eduardo Dussek, who remarks (in Portugese) that families, rockers, and the metalhead headbangers all accepted the band."

As mentioned above, a virtually complete video of the show has leaked into collectors' circles, although it is many generations from the master. The picture quality is acceptable, but the audio is far from great. Only a few seconds of Under Pressure are missing.

As impressive as the sizes of these audience were, they were far from the largest ever at a concert in Rio. An estimated 3.5 million people came to Copacabana Beach on New Year's Eve in 1994 when Rod Stewart was playing, the largest audience ever for a concert anywhere in the world - although, to be realistic, not everyone was there to see the show, considering which day of the year it was.

A technical note - in Somebody To Love, Killer Queen, and Seven Seas Of Rhye, Spike Edney now plays along with a few vocal lines with a vocoder, which practically drowns out Brian and Roger's backing vocals in these songs for the rest of the year.

The press conference photos were taken by Everson Candido.

Here are two pro pics from the first night: 1 2

The last picture above is a screenshot from The Magic Years VHS. Although it's seen during the Magic Tour documentary, it's actually a Works tour setlist from 1985 - but the piece of paper is originally from August 1984, as Staying Power, Stone Cold Crazy, and Great King Rat are crossed out, and the second half of the show has been revised many times (Sheer Heart Attack wasn't officially ousted, though!).


Here are a few bootleg CDs, all rips of the official release.

Despite the title, Wardour's is not complete. It is a single disc released as an extra in their bootleg of the Osaka '85 show called "Last Concert In Japan."

Recording length: 1 DVD, incomplete
Quality: ?
Source: TV
Lineage: "Rock In Rio Lost Footages" (VJAM) silver

Track listing:
Machines (tape), Tear It Up, Under Pressure, Somebody To Love, Killer Queen, Dragon Attack, Now I'm Here, Is This The World We Created?, Love Of My Life, Another One Bites The Dust, Mustapha (intro), Crazy Little Thing Called Love, I Want To Break Free, Jailhouse Rock

Tear It Up, Tie Your Mother Down, Under Pressure, Somebody To Love, Killer Queen, Seven Seas Of Rhye, Keep Yourself Alive, Liar, Rock In Rio Blues, It's A Hard Life, Dragon Attack, Now I'm Here, Love Of My Life, Crazy Little Thing Called Love

This 2009 DVD bootleg was assembled and released by a label called VJAM, using remaining circulating footage of both nights to fill in the gaps of what was dropped from the 1985 official release.

Previous Concert

Next Concert

Back to 1985 Concerts