City: Stevenage, UK
Venue: Knebworth Park
Date: August 9, 1986

Setlist:
One Vision, Tie Your Mother Down, In The Lap Of The Gods...Revisited, Seven Seas Of Rhye, Tear It Up, A Kind Of Magic, Under Pressure, Another One Bites The Dust, Who Wants To Live Forever, I Want To Break Free, impromptu, guitar solo, Now I'm Here, Love Of My Life, Is This The World We Created?, (You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care, Hello Mary Lou, Tutti Frutti, Bohemian Rhapsody, Hammer To Fall, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Radio Ga Ga, We Will Rock You, Friends Will Be Friends, We Are The Champions, God Save The Queen


           
     
                                                                                         

This is the final Queen concert ever with the lineup of Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon. The band went out in style, playing for an estimated 120,000 fans (some sources claim it was as high as 200,000). At the time, it was the largest single paying audience for a UK rock concert in over ten years. Thousands of fans camped outside the park gates the night before.

This last date was added after the Wembley Stadium shows in July had sold out so quickly, (Brian later said how the band could have probably done 5 or 6 nights at Wembley). In fact, the promoter, Harvey Goldsmith, had already booked the park anyway, as he was sure the extra show would be necessary, and Wembley wasn't available for more dates.

New wave artist Belouis Some opened the festivities, followed by Status Quo (seen in pics 25 through 28) and Big Country (seen in pics 1 and 29). The biggest of the three opening acts, Status Quo played before Big Country because they had to leave early for another gig in Germany. They were planning to set a world record by playing three gigs in three countries on a single day.

A bottle fight began in the audience early in the day, and plenty of bottles were being thrown at Belouis Some throughout their set. One of their backing singers held what looked like a washing bowl over her head for protection. Thousands of bottles were thrown around throughout the day, as seen in pic 22.

During Quo's set, one of their roadies stood on top of the Starvision screen with a big cardboard guitar (as seen in pics 27 and 28). When told about it afterward, the band said how they thought the audience's reaction was for them! The roadie was promptly terminated.

Between acts, various videos were shown on the big screen, including many Thin Lizzy videos (with whom Queen had toured in 1977), as singer/bassist Phil Lynott had passed away earlier in the year. They also spun Dire Straits' latest record "Brothers in Arms" in its entirety.

Queen flew into the park on a helicopter (or *in* a helicopter, as George Carlin would have it) during Quo's set, as seen in pics 2-4.

As reported by many audience members, Big Country played a great set. By the fourth encore number, however, an angry-looking Harvey Goldsmith repeatedly pointed at his wrist at the side of the stage. Around this point, someone in the audience threw a two-litre bottle (containing a liquid which probably doesn't need to be named) at the singer, Stuart Adamson, which he successfully dodged.



Pics 9 and 10 were taken not long before Queen came on, and pic 11 was taken while the One Vision tape was being played. Many fans recall this moment to have been twice as loud as anything that had preceded it in the day. The band were greeted by a gargantuan roar from the audience as they walked on stage to play the song, as heard on the Live Magic album.

Freddie sounds very strong throughout the show, and there is a lot of classic banter with the audience:

After the second song, he immediately speaks in response to the overwhelming ticket sales that necessitated this huge concert. "Hello! This is what you wanted, this is what you're gonna get! Is everybody okay, having a nice day? Yeah, not too bad, huh? Now you gotta put up with us."

After A Kind Of Magic, he happily points out, "This is an enormous place, even by our standards, I tell you. It looks beautiful from up here! It's frightening, I tell you. It looks beautiful." After the vocal duel with the audience, he says, "You fuckers are good, I tell you. I'll get you after a couple of songs, you wait. You're on!" Then after the first chorus of Another One Bites The Dust where he invites them to sing along, he remarks, "I told you I was gonna get ya!"

Before Another One Bites The Dust, he says, "This next song calls for a boogie, I mean... it means I throw my cunt around the stage even more than I've done." After the vocal improv in the middle section, John plays a couple funky bass riffs, and playing off him, Brian throws in some equally funky riffs, reminiscent of "Fun It" from the Jazz album. Some fans consider this to be the best version of the song ever performed by the band.

After Dust, Freddie says, somewhat seriously, "I think most of you know that this is the last stop on our tour." Then more informally, "You know that, don't you? And such a beautiful way to end it. I mean, look at the lot of you. I might also add that this has been the best European tour for us, thanks to all you fuckers out there. And earlier on there were rumours of us splitting up, but, I mean... fuck 'em. I mean really, look at this!" he says as he smiles, once again referring to the size of the audience. "How can you split up when you have an audience like this? I mean, really! We're not that stupid."

Roger plays with much enthusiasm throughout, particularly during the impromptu. Freddie even shouts "Nice one!" in reaction to his drum solo in its finale. Roger later recalled this to be a very fun show, and one of his favourites of Queen's career.

Before Love Of My Life, Brian says this tour is "The biggest and best thing that ever happened to us." The show's brief serious portion begins with Brian's introduction of Is This The World We Created. "About a year and a half ago" [ed. it was well over two years, actually], "which is before Live Aid and all that stuff, we saw some stuff on television which disturbed us a lot, and very late one night in Munich we sat down and wrote what we thought about it, and this is it." The video of the last performance of this touching ballad can be seen on the "Champions Of The World" documentary.

Freddie, with his Telecaster on before Crazy Little Thing Called Love, doesn't even need to introduce the song anymore, as a fair portion of the audience know what's next: "Okay, this only means one thing." Brian enters in the third verse on his Telecaster as usual, but it's letting out an awful lot of noise (an audience member recalls Brian breaking a string). He makes the quick decision to switch to the Red Special for the solo, and gets there just in time.

John Deacon uncharacteristically tosses his Fender Precision bass bass away immediately following Radio Ga Ga, as seen in pic 18. This can also be seen on the official Rare Live video. He hit the other basses on their stands in front of the amps, knocking them all over. The roadies then took them off stage, presumably to check for damage and retune them before the second encore. John ultimately doesn't cause any significant damage to his P-bass, as he uses it for the final three songs.

"Thank You, beautiful people. You've been a tremendous... you've been a really special audience. Thank you very much. Good night, sweet dreams, we love you," are Freddie's closing words, after which he and the boys leave the stage for the last time.

As people were leaving, someone suddenly turns off most of the lights (and ends up getting fired for it), forcing an audience of this size to find their way out in pitch darkness.

A baby was born in the audience at some point in the evening, but someone was killed as well. A fan climbed a lighting tower to get a better view, but fell onto someone who was none too pleased and subsequently stabbed him. St. John's Ambulance was called, but their fight through the crowd took too long and the victim died. Upon learning about the fan's death, Freddie Mercury was recorded saying, "If people have to die because they wanna see us, I'll never perform live again." This is yet another haunting comment from the year, furthermore suggesting that Freddie knew he was ill at this point.

Here's a brief write-up about the fan's death: http://www.queencuttings.com

The 'Live Magic' album, released in December 1986, contains material from Wembley, Budapest, and Knebworth Park - but it's primarily from the Knebworth show (the italicized tracks have been edited down): One Vision, Tie Your Mother Down, Seven Seas Of Rhye, Another One Bites The Dust, I Want To Break Free, Bohemian Rhapsody, Radio Ga Ga, We Will Rock You, Friends Will Be Friends, We Are The Champions, and God Save The Queen. Brian's backing vocal in One Vision was overdubbed in the studio.

Some footage of One Vision (with the studio version of Who Wants To Live Forever as the audio) was shown on ITV's Anglia News in 2002 during a report about Brian receiving an honorary degree from the University of Hertfordshire.

After being asked about the existence of the master copy of the video around the 20th anniversary of the show, Brian replied with a great combination of music, astrophysics, and the We Will Rock You musical (close to the bottom of the page): http://www.brianmay.com

However, a year later, Queen archivist Greg Brooks said: "Only footage of the big screens exists which is utterly boring, and some shots of the audience as I recall." And since then, he has furthermore stated that over half the concert exists on video, plus a lot of pre-concert shots and backstage interviews. This includes the aforementioned pro footage of Is This The World We Created, as well as bits of Radio Ga Ga, We Are The Champions, and God Save The Queen seen in various documentaries, particularly "The Magic Years" and the BBC's "Seven Ages Of Rock." These bits were filmed by the DoRo production team who worked for the band, independent from the Starvision screen footage.

While the video footage of the show is fragmentary, the audio remains intact, as confirmed by Greg Brooks.

The show was, however, filmed by a member of the audience. The filmer focused in on the video screen for most of it, so it seems like a pro shot video (albeit blocky-looking, as that's the way the screens were back then). The complete show was captured, minus part of Crazy Little Thing Called Love.

The Knebworth Park version of Under Pressure was included on the Under Pressure "Rah Mix" CD single in 2000. The snare drum was triggered to have that big-sounding 80s style compression.

Here are some pro pics from this show:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33

Pic 5 was submitted by Janneman. Pics 1, 6, and 13 were submitted by Lukáš Bosík, the last of which was taken by Henry Cobbold. Pics 22 through 43 were taken by Mark Canham. Pic 47 was submitted by Fabio Minero, and pics 49 through 57 were taken by Mark Alexander (pic 48 was also submitted by him). Pic 58 is from Fabio Tosti, and pic 60 was taken by Ian Stewart Brown.

To finish it all off, here is a picture of the Queen crew, with a detailed synopsis of everyone's role in making the entire operation work: http://www.queenconcerts.com

In a 2011 interview with the BBC, Freddie's longtime girlfriend Mary Austin revealed that he did know during the last tour that he had AIDS. "The last tour, he knew, and it was really hard work for him, working through the emotional pain knowing that it was going to be his last tour. Watching him walk off stage, I feel pain now. Just that look of him walking off. I looked at him, he looked at me, and it's that knowing that this has to be the last one."


Recording length: 87 minutes (2 LP, incomplete)
Quality: B+
Source: Audience
Lineage: "Magic At Knebworth" LP

 
Track listing:
One Vision, Tie Your Mother Down, In The Lap Of The Gods...Revisited, Seven Seas Of Rhye, Tear It Up, A Kind Of Magic, Under Pressure, Another One Bites The Dust, Who Wants To Live Forever, I Want To Break Free, Now I'm Here [cut], Love Of My Life, Is This The World We Created?, (You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care, Hello Mary Lou, Tutti Frutti, Bohemian Rhapsody, Hammer To Fall, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Radio Ga Ga, We Will Rock You, Friends Will Be Friends, We Are The Champions, God Save The Queen


This vinyl bootleg came out in 1987. It's a pretty good recording, taped relatively close to the stage.

Many between-song bits are missing, as well as the impromptu, guitar solo, and the taped intro of One Vision (the recording begins with Brian's entry). Friends Will Be Friends is listed as "The End."


Recording length: 114 minutes (2 CD, incomplete)
Quality: A-
Source: Audience
Lineage: "Electric Magic" (Amsterdam) silvers

 
Track listing:
One Vision, Tie Your Mother Down, In The Lap Of The Gods...Revisited, Seven Seas Of Rhye, Tear It Up, A Kind Of Magic, Under Pressure, Another One Bites The Dust, Who Wants To Live Forever, I Want To Break Free, impromptu [cut], guitar solo, Now I'm Here, Love Of My Life, Is This The World We Created?, (You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care, Hello Mary Lou, Tutti Frutti, Bohemian Rhapsody, Hammer To Fall, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Radio Ga Ga, We Will Rock You, Friends Will Be Friends, We Are The Champions, God Save The Queen


This 1997 bootleg uses a different audience source from the LP. The treble on this copy is pretty piercing. The front cover was actually taken in Manchester.

The sound is clear, but the recording is very distant. The fans close to the taper hardly seem like they're into the show at times, as they are nowhere near the enthusiastic ones at the front. It's the picnic atmosphere that big outdoor shows tend to have when you're a few hundred feet from the stage. Contrary to the audience roar heard on Live Magic when the band walk on stage before a note is played, these fans cheer the sound of Brian May as they probably can't even see him from where they are.


Recording length: 115 minutes (2 CD, complete)
Quality: A
Source: Audience
Lineage: "Thank You All" (Wardour) silvers

     
Track listing:
CDs: One Vision, Tie Your Mother Down, In The Lap Of The Gods...Revisited, Seven Seas Of Rhye, Tear It Up, A Kind Of Magic, Under Pressure, Another One Bites The Dust, Who Wants To Live Forever, I Want To Break Free, impromptu, guitar solo, Now I'm Here, Love Of My Life, Is This The World We Created?, (You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care, Hello Mary Lou, Tutti Frutti, Bohemian Rhapsody, Hammer To Fall, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Radio Ga Ga, We Will Rock You, Friends Will Be Friends, We Are The Champions, God Save The Queen

DVD (2x): One Vision, Tie Your Mother Down, In The Lap Of The Gods...Revisited, Seven Seas Of Rhye, Tear It Up, A Kind Of Magic, Under Pressure, Another One Bites The Dust, Who Wants To Live Forever, I Want To Break Free, impromptu, guitar solo, Now I'm Here, Love Of My Life, Is This The World We Created?, (You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care, Hello Mary Lou, Tutti Frutti, Bohemian Rhapsody, Hammer To Fall, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Radio Ga Ga, We Will Rock You, Friends Will Be Friends, We Are The Champions, God Save The Queen


Released in early 2007, this is one of the best Queen bootlegs ever produced. Wardour's version is apparently a transfer of the audience master (from someone known as "Crazy S"), making it a great upgrade from the multi-gen Electric Magic version. Although it's a distant recording as described above, the master copy has a very clear and punchy sound. The recording begins with the tail end of the house music, Run To You by Bryan Adams. Wardour has filled in the few small gaps with the video source to complete the show.

Also included in this package is a DVD of the video shot from the audience, also apparently from the master copy. The audio, although not as clear as the other audience source, has a better atmosphere since the filmer was much closer to the stage. Crazy Little Thing Called Love is cut, but it is filled in with the main audience source. There is a slideshow of various 1986 concert pictures until the video resumes.

The viewer can choose between the two audio sources, as Wardour took the time to flawlessly synch the main audience source to the video footage.

Here's a link to the always-reliable GS review: http://www.collectorsmusicreviews.com


Recording length: 105 minutes (2 CD, incomplete)
Quality: B-
Source: Audience
Lineage: AUD > ? > CDR (x)
Track listing:
One Vision, Tie Your Mother Down, In The Lap Of The Gods...Revisited, Seven Seas Of Rhye, Tear It Up, A Kind Of Magic, Under Pressure, Another One Bites The Dust, Who Wants To Live Forever, I Want To Break Free, impromptu, guitar solo, Now I'm Here, Love Of My Life, Is This The World We Created?, (You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care, Hello Mary Lou, Tutti Frutti, Bohemian Rhapsody, Hammer To Fall, Crazy Little Thing Called Love [cut], Radio Ga Ga, We Will Rock You, Friends Will Be Friends, We Are The Champions, God Save The Queen


This is a third audience source (or fourth, if you count the video) in much worse sound quality.

The only thing it has that the other sources lack is a bit more of the speech at the end of the show by promoter Harvey Goldsmith.




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