Sun City Boys (Godfather Records GR 501)
Sun City, Bophuthatswana, Super Bowl, South Africa – October 19th, 1984
(62:32): Machines intro, Tear It Up, Tie Your Mother Down, Under Pressure, Somebody To Love, improv / My Fairy King, Killer Queen, Seven Seas Of Rhye, Keep Yourself Alive, Liar, It’s A Hard Life, Dragon Attack, Now I’m Here. Bonus tracks: Roger Taylor interview, Brian May interview, State Of Shock, There Must Be More To Life Than This
Less than a week after the conclusion of The Works tour in Europe, Queen traveled to South Africa to play a controversial series of dates in Sun City. South Africa observed apartheid, the strict seperation of races. Being fined and alienating their colleagues and some fans, they maintained that they were not a political band. The shows were open to all races and the audience were a mixture of white and black with many tickets being given away.
Nine shows were scheduled beginning on October 5th. The third concert of the set on October 7th was curtailed after “Under Pressure” due to Freddie losing his voice because of his recurring throat nodule problem.
None of these shows were taped and have been shrouded in mystery for more than twenty years until recently. Godfather presents a forty minute soundboard fragment from the penultimate show on October 19th. The sound quality is excellent stereo. There is very nice presence for the music and one can even hear the panning effect used by the engineers for the stage show.
Sun City Boys has the show from the beginning through to “Now I’m Here.” Fragments of “Another One Bites The Dust,” “Hammer To Fall,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “I Want To Break Free” also exists but the label decided to stick with the complete portion of the show.
Queen were an hour late arriving at the venue and played a shortened set. But what has come down to us is the first half of the show starting with the taped “Machines” introduction leading into “Tear It Up” and “Tie Your Mother Down.” Freddie greets Sun City and tells them to party before “Under Pressure.”
After “Somebody To Love” Freddie plays an improvisation on the piano that quotes heavily from “March Of The Black Queen” from Queen II and “My Fairy King” from Queen. These songs hadn’t been played for almost ten year and make very rare appearance here. “Killer Queen,” “Seven Seas Of Rhye,” “Keep Yourself Alive” and a very heavy “Liar” complete the medley.
The improve before “It’s A Hard Life” also is phenomenal to hear with Freddie’s voice running scales and jumping octaves with amazing accuracy. There are more exhortations to celebration for “Dragon Attack” and the tape sadly ends with “Now I’m Here.” It’s a shame given the great performance, wonderful sound quality and historic importance that this hasn’t been released in its entirety.
The bonus tracks start with interviews with Roger Taylor and Brian May from Irish radio in 1986, two years after the event. They reflect on their decision and conclude they probably wouldn’t do it again. Taylor’s comments are brief, but May’s are typically long and introspective.
The final two bonus tracks are “State Of Shock” and “There Must Be More To Life Than This,” two demos recorded with Freddie and Michael Jackson in Los Angeles in 1983. There is no real connection between these songs and the rest except they come from The Works era. These songs can also be found on State Of Shock (Great Pretender Records GPR-001) issued many years ago. Sun City Boys is another very good Queen title on Godfather and is the first and only silver pressing of the Sun City tape.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)