Queen – Finale / Last Show Japan Tour 1981 (Tarantura TCDQ-10-1, 2)

Finale / Last Show Japan Tour 1981
(Tarantura TCDQ-10-1, 2)

Nippon Budokan Dai- Hall, Tokyo, Japan – February 18th, 1981

Disc 1 (58:05):  Opening, Start, We Will Rock You (Fast), Let Me Entertain You, The Millionaire Waltz (Intro), Play The Game, Mustapha, Death On Two Legs, Killer Queen, I’m In Love With My Car, Get Down Make Love, Rock It (Prime Jive), Save Me, Now I’m Here, Dragon Attack, Now I’m Here (Reprise), Sakura Sakura, Love Of My Life

Disc 2 (53:16):  Keep Yourself Alive, Drum Solo, In The Death Cell, Drum Solo, In The Death Cell, Guitar Solo, Vultan’s Theme, Battle Theme, Flash, The Hero, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Bohemian Rhapsody, Tie Your Mother Down.  Encore:  Another One Bites The Dust, Sheer Heart Attack, We Will Rock You, We Are The Champions, Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together), God Save The Queen, Announcement

Queen’s eight studio album The Game hit the recording buying public in June 1980 while the band were already riding a wave of popularity on the singles “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”  The album became their most successful to date as did the “Another One Bites The Dust.” 

Their second LP of the year Flash Gordon came out with much less fanfare.  Released several days after the theatrical release of the film Flash Gordon, there was much less publicity or anticipation despite the band’s insistence that it be a true album and not a soundtrack.  The catchy title song was added to the setlist the night it was released and would remain in the set through the Hot Space tour.  

The only real promotion of the music on the LP and the only extended live performance of material other than the famous theme from the LP occurred on a few nights in Japan in February 1981.  

Queen played five dates after an extended tour of Europe.  Several tapes exist for the final show on February 18th but none had ever been pressed onto silver.  

Finale / Last Show Japan Tour 1981 on Tarantura uses a new Mr. Peach recording.  The first time this show has been on silver disc, the recording is very clear, powerful and loud.  At times it’s too loud that it distorts, but it is generally very enjoyable and a good document to have from this shout tour.

Like the rest of the tour Queen begin with the fast arrangement of “We Will Rock You” and “Let Me Entertain You” from Jazz.  Both are high adrenaline and work to build the audience’s buzz.  Freddie sits at the piano for the next song “Play The Game.”  But, before he starts, he plays a fast improvised melody incorporating “The Millionaire’s Waltz” from A Day At The Races.  It was an integral part of the medley during those tours but hadn’t been played since.   

It would have been a real nice surprise if the whole band joined in and played the song, but this little doodle is all that is present. It is also the final time Queen reference the song live.  

“Mustapha” starts off the medley which also includes “Death On Two Legs,” “Killer Queen,” “I’m In Love With My Car” and ending with one of the strangest versions of “Get Down, Make Love” on tape.  The  middle erotic section has some differences than past versions, sounding as if Brian May was aiming for my lyricism than brute creepiness.  

Freddie introduces “Rock It (Prime Jive)” as one of the new songs and the band follow with a devastating performance.  “The missiles are heavy tonight” he quips afterwards.  They follow with another song from The Game “Save Me.”  It ends a bit rough, but the following medley “Now I’m Here” with “Dragon Attack” thrown in works much better.  

May plays a bit of the haunting Japanese folk tune “Sakura” before leading with “Love Of My Life.”  This is really the only restful moment in the show.  Roger Taylor on drum starts off the next extravaganza.  With Freddie repeatedly saying “shaking all over” (not singing the Johnny Kidd & The Pirates tune), they start with “Keep Yourself Alive.”

The piece leads into Taylor’s fast drum solos, May’s “Brighton Rock” guitar solo (with some “White Man” and “Son & Daughter” riffs thrown in for good measure), and the final time the elongated Flash Gordon medley.  The synthesizer lead “Vultan’s Theme (Attack of The Hawk Men)” is a tremendously exciting piece of rock theater ending in “Flash” and the powerful “The Hero.”

The long encore section contains a rare performance of “Teo Torriatte.”  The taped “God Save The Queen” closes the performance as the audience leaves the venue.  This would be the band’s last show in Japan until late 1982.  

Finale / Last Show Japan Tour 1981 is packaged in a cardboard gatefold sleeve decorated with several tour pictures.  Because it covers a previously unbooted show, it’s a good title to obtain for the Queen collector.  

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