Setlist History: Queen in Montreal 1981

By the time Queen made it to chilly Montreal for a pair of late November shows, they had already completed 5 legs of a world tour of 80 shows, soon to be 82. Those two would live forever because they were beautifully documented in a film that has gone from the silver screen to IMAX and starting today, streaming on Disney+.

It couldn't be a better representation of this remarkable assemblage of very different musicians peaking creatively and as a live unit.

The Game Tour was a triumph even before it began because the album was a hit out of the gate, thanks in part to its lead single, the adorable "Crazy Little Thing Called Love."

It wasn't until the band had released three singles did they find themselves taking advice from Michael Jackson backstage at one of their Forum shows early in the tour.

Queen had sold out four nights at the legendary venue in Inglewood when the 21-year-old pop star, still sporting a Jheri Curl and was two years away from releasing the best selling album of all time, told singer Freddie Mercury they should put out "Another One Bites The Dust" as their fourth single.

Imagine that song just sitting there on the album and no one except Michael Jackson could convince anyone to roll the dice and put it out.

Elektra released the song four weeks later and it became Queen's best selling single ever, their first #1 hit in the US, and most importantly stayed in the Top 10 for 15 weeks - their tour was riding the wave of that tune. Seven million copies of the single were sold. Billboard lists it as the #34 all time top songs.

All thanks to the King of Pop.

So many of the "hits" are in the second half of the show after the Drum and Guitar solos. But what people shouldn't miss out on are near the beginning of the show.

The first is how amazing it must be for a band to be able to start a show with "We Will Rock You." Not only does Queen do it but they sped up the tempo just a tad because they aren't going to segue into We Are The Champions until the end of the show.

Not only do they increase the tempo they add a new guitar line. Just watch Brian May shred.

Queen kicking off their show with a fast version of "We Will Rock You."

Then just four songs into the gig we get to hear Freddie stand heads above everyone with a seven minute version of "Somebody to Love."

He is at once a star, a sex symbol, an accomplished pianist and singer, and the absolute center of attention even when his eyes are closed.

But as the song goes on there's a handler for his stick mic, there's incredible harmonies with drummer Roger Taylor, and then there's Freddie just prancing around easily the most lovable person in the room asking the saddest question of all.

Of their 82 shows on that tour, they only played "Somebody" 16 times, mostly on the tail end of it all.

Only a few other songs were played fewer times, most for good reason.

For example, "Under Pressure," the collab with David Bowie had not been released until October, 1981, a few weeks before the Canadian finale.

So the first night, the good people of Montreal got to see the live debut of "Under Pressure"

Watch and listen to this incredible performance on Disney+ which is having it's global streaming premiere today, May 15, as the first concert film available with IMAX Enhanced sound powered by DTS.

As for the band Queen, they wrapped up their Japanese 2024 tour in February. Bookmark their website for future dates with new singer Adam Lambert.

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Last updated: 30 May 2024, 23:05 Etc/UTC