Queen in Auckland, New Zealand on 13.04.1985 (written by David Austin)

By April in NZ you're well into Autumn, maybe a bit late for an outdoor concert but luckily April 13 was overcast all day without raining. And so it was on this day that Queen played their first and only concert in little ol' NZ to a crowd of 30,000 at Mt. Smart (now Ericsson) stadium. The concert was late starting, Freddie Mercury and Tony Hadley (from Spandau Ballet) got blind drunk before the concert. Few people seemed to notice, although there were a couple of Maori guys in front of me who were laughing like hell when Freddie came on ("Aw man, he is so out of it!!").

Freddie didn't seem to be sparing the four letter words ("Hello New Zealand,we're gonna have one muthaf*****er of a time"). In between songs,Freddie would do his customary vocal excercises, mostly built around the opening notes of "You take my breath away", then dimiss it ("My voice is F*****D!!"). Then later when introducing "Hammer to fall", ("Here's one for all you heavy metal fans to have a good jerk-off to!!").

I heard an interview earlier in the week with the promoter claiming that Queen's set would please both old and new fans. In spite of this I doubted how deep into the back catalogue Queen would go. Imagine my surprise when they dug up a gem from the first album like "Liar". With all the changes in Queen's sound and image in previous years, this song eliminated any doubts I had that this band was in touch with its past. This was one of the last songs I had expected to hear and without a doubt my highlight.

For "Love of my life", Brian May explained how over the years it had become a tradition for the crowd to join in. Unfortunately, this song is not as well known here as it is in other parts of the world and besides, NZers are reluctant public singers at the best of times anyway. Freddie's infamous drag act during "I want to break free" was back after it had been unceremoniously ditched earlier that year in Rio. At the end of the song he threw his falsies into the crowd.

Tony Hadley joined Queen on stage later on. Spandau Ballet were touring Australia at the time and flew across the Tasman to see Queen. He joined the band for "Jailhouse Rock", I've since heard that he was so drunk that he started singing the first verse to "Tutti-Fruitti" instead (never noticed).

The reviews were pretty fair. There were words to the effect that Queen delivered, although it took awhile. Maybe some songs were a mystery to those who had only heard "Greatest Hits", but things really took off in the final third of the show. Almost everybody seemed to be singing along with "Crazy little thing called love", doing the handclap in "Radio Ga-Ga" and swaying to "We are the champions".

Roger threw his drumsticks into the crowd at the end of the concert, one has since surfaced. In spite of Freddie's claim to the contary, his voice sounded just fine and no doubt everybody left happy. I, for one, couldn't have asked for more.


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