Au Poil! (Godfather Records GR764/765)
Amphithéâtre, Fréjus, France – July 30th, 1986
Disc 1 (57:55): One Vision, Tie Your Mother Down, In The Lap Of The Gods…Revisited, Seven Seas Of Rhye, Tear It Up, A Kind Of Magic, Day-O, Under Pressure, Another One Bites The Dust, Who Wants To Live Forever, I Want To Break Free, impromptu, guitar solo, Now I’m Here
Disc 2 (48:02): 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
Queen’s tour in the summer of 1986 was a part comeback and part confirmation of the band’s importance in the history of pop music.
It was a comeback, not because the band went away. They had toured extensively in 1984 and 1985 for The Works, capped off by their history making appearance at Live Aid in July. But bad attitudes in the band, a distaste for touring, and their decision to play in South Africa were damaging to their reputation. Even the band themselves wondered if Queen had reached the end.
But the accolades received for Live Aid inspired the band to continue and, when A Kind Of Magic was released, they booked a tour of Europe. Since they weren’t planning on playing in North America or Japan, they were able to schedule shows in cities they’ve never visited before like Slane in Ireland, Budapest in Hungary, Marbella in Spain and Nice on the southern coast of France.
Several weeks before the event, Nice was rescheduled for Fréjus, less than hour away on the other side of Cannes. Despite the smaller venue, Queen delivered another legendary performance in what would be their final concert in France. With a capacity of 15,000, this is one of the smaller venues Queen would play on the tour (the show in Brussels was the smallest). But they offer an energetic performance.
Au Poil! offers a excellent stereo audience recording taped very close to the stage. It is very bass heavy and the drums are very loud. At certain points the volume drops like during “I Want To Break Free,” but nothing too serious.
The tape stars off with taped introduction to “One Vision.” The audience reacts loudly to “Tie Your Mother Down,” the more familiar of the two opening songs.
Freddie gives the audience a “bon soir” before subtly beginning “In The Lap Of The Gods…Revisited.” It takes a second for the audience to realize what is happening before cheering the Sheer Heart Attack closer. The entire old medley is received very well.
“A Kind Of Magic” sounds a bit tired in this show. Spike Edney plays boogie piano to liven it up a bit. The “Day-O” singalong is also rather limp and uninspired tonight since Freddie’s voice is extremely rough. But things improve with “Under Pressure.” Afterwards he jokes about the smallness of the venue, saying “It’s nice to be here tonight in this little bedroom. Now that we’re in this bedroom, let’s do a little boogie, huh?”
After “Another One Bites The Dust” Freddie debunks the Queen break-up rumors and jokes about his inability to master French. “Everybody understands a little English, yes? I can’t speak French. I’m trying, but I mean, it’s useless.” The new song “Who Wants To Live Forever” is “a new song…written by Brian.”
The guitar solo is very energetic. As May plays, Freddie shouts “go.. Johnny go!” The acoustic set following is relaxed. During “Love Of My Life,” not only do the audience sing along, but dogs can be heard barking proving that even canines can appreciate Queen music!
Before ending the set with “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” Freddie jokes that it is “a song that Édith Piaf would’ve sung if she was alive.” The encores begin with “Radio Ga Ga” which contains Freddie’s “it smells like a hamburger” quip in the middle.
Encores end with powerful versions of “We Will Rock You,” “Friends Will Be Friends” and “We Are The Champions.” During the closing “God Save The Queen” the audience sing along as Freddie is running around the stage wearing his crown.
Au Poil! (a French expression meaning “Excellent!”) is a great release by Godfather. It is great to see more great sounding Queen tapes finally making their way onto attractive and definitive silver editions. The packaging is the label’s tri-fold cardboard gatefold sleeves with an effective design inspired by A Kind Of Magic.
Another great Godfather release and a fitting title for this one to go along with the “excellent” sound quality.