In summer 1986 my friend Martin and I decided to do an Inter Rail Tour i.e. you buy a railway ticket which allows you to travel unlimited miles all over Europe for a whole month. We started the tour in Villach/Austria on July 1st 3:15. 18 hours later we reached the Italian-French border at Savona. As early as the next day we went on to Cannes. The first thing we did in Cannes was to go to a ticket shop and to buy tickets for the Queen show that was to take place on July 30th in Nice. The vacation was already a huge success having these tickets and our anticipation was huge.
We kept on travelling the whole European continent. Mid July we stopped at Oxford and London. On July 11th we decided to visit the Queen Fan Club. Unfortunately, the office was closed but we noticed hectic activities near the building of Queen Productions without knowing the reason for it. Only much later we realised why the fan club had been closed: it was the day of the first Wembley concert and we two blockheads had no idea!!
The stop in the UK was followed by a short trip to Spain. Then we wanted to spend the rest of our vacation on the Cote d' Azur. We found a camping ground near Nice in a town called Fréjus. Each day we went by train from Fréjus to St. Raphael, a 20 minute ride, to spend the day on the beach. One or two days before the concert I was lying sunbathing on the beach of St.Raphael when I noticed a small aeroplane towing an advert banner. The banner read that the Queen concert had been rescheduled to take place in Fréjus instead of Nice. Thank heavens I saw that banner, if I had not seen it by sheer coincidence we would have stood before closed gates on the night of the concert.
Finally the long awaited day arrived: July 30th 1986 - Queen live in Fréjus. In the morning we packed our bags because we had to catch the last train right after the concert. At 1:00 pm we arrived at the amphitheatre where only about 100 fans were already waiting. The heat was almost unbearable. I remember that a fan, who had come in his car, parked the car near the gate, opened the doors and played his cassette at full volume. So, we heard A Kind Of Magic at least five times through the afternoon.
Around 5:00 pm (or was it 6:00?) the gates opened. We had good "starting positions" and ended up in the 5th row in front of the gate. When the gates opened, the "battue" was considerable, as you can imagine, but we survived. When we entered the amphitheatre we hesitated for a moment if we should head for the stage or rather go for the stone steps - there was still enough room. After having stood before the stadium for hours we decided to secure seats on the stone steps so that we could sit for a change. We went half-way up the stadium and had a perfect view of the stage. The theatre is rather small and very intimate. No matter where you were, you could see the stage well. The stage was also pretty small and packed with equipment.
After more waiting the show finally took off. The support band Craaft was rather boring and was hardly appreciated by the crowd. Craaft was followed by a long and boring set change. I remember the never ending "One-Two" - "One-Two" sound checks. However, the crowd was in great spirits. Those of you who ever attended a Queen concert know what I am talking about.
Queen enter the stage. The start of the show is the part I remember most vividly. The lighting rig hung deep down, only about 2 metres above the stage floor. As soon as the "One Vision" intro began, the apparatus began to move and bright light came out of it. During the intro the whole lighting construction unfolded to its full size, a modest size of course, because the stage was really rather small.
I don't need to tell you about the show and the set list. I remember Freddie's greeting "Welcome in this little bedroom". My friend had smuggled his mini cassette recorder into the stadium. In the beginning he held up the recorder - unfortunately, because the music was so loud that the small microphone could not handle the sound volume. Later we put the recorder on the step behind us and so we got a reasonable bootleg. After such a long time I don't remember more details but I will never forget the magical atmosphere on stage and in the audience. Wait, I remember this: both Brian and Freddie played a wrong chord: Brian made a terrible mistake towards the end of Bohemian Rhapsody and Freddie hit the wrong key in "We Are The Champions" on the piano right before the part "but it's been no bed of roses". It was so bad that the show stopped for a second. It is remarkable that in a perfect show like this one small mistakes do happen and it made me happy to see that Queen are human, after all.
The last thing I remember of this concert is our walk from the stadium to the station. We walked along the rails, did not speak a word, were half deaf and totally blissful. This night was definitely the highlight in my life as a Queen fan.