The Miracle Game (Tarantura TCDQ-2-1,2)
Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – February 16th, 1981
Disc 1 (61:39): Opening, SE, Jailhouse Rock, We Will Rock You (fast), Let Me Entertain You, 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, Everybody Alright, Dragon Attack, Now I’m Here (reprise), Love Of My Life
Disc 2 (51:03): Keep Yourself Alive, drum solo, In The Death Cell, Execution Of Flash, guitar solo, Vultan’s Theme, Battle Theme, Flash, The Hero, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Bohemian Rhapsody, Tie Your Mother Down, Another One Bites The Dust, Sheer Heart Attack, We Will Rock You, We Are The Champions, God Save The Queen, announcement
The Miracle Gameis the second Queen release on the Tarantura label and like many of their releases in the past three years utilizes a previously uncirculated Mr. Peach recording. Like a majority of the other tapes, this is a phenomenal sounding, three dimensional stereo audience tape with capturing the entire performance. This is the second new tape from the February 16th show to surface in the past five years and follows the release of Prime Jive (Wardour-030) in 2005. The Mr. Peach recording is significantly better then the other two and is the best sounding tape from all five shows in Tokyo on this short tour.
The setlist follows closely that utilized on the Game tour the previous year with the cover tune “Jailhouse Rock” starting the show. It was a surprising yet effective opener followed by the fast “We Will Rock You” and “Let Me Entertain You.”
“Mustapha” opens the medley and after the initial four “Ibrahim” Freddie jokes with the audience leading them to sing “Arrah” instead of “Allah.” It is followed by “Death On Two Legs,” “Killer Queen” and “I’m In Love With My Car,” all pretty much standard inclusions in these tours. The rendition of “Get Down, Make Love” is especially notable in performance this night with the contrasting guitar themes setting the teeth on edge. Afterwards Freddie says, “We’re gonna do a new song tonight, one we haven’t done before. This is a song written by Roger Taylor.” Playing “Rock It” seems to be a chore for Freddie and although he gives a great vocal performance, he quips during the song “I gotta get that high note” after the first verse and, after hitting it, jokes “I really didn’t think I could do that.”
The long “Now I’m Here” impromptu includes Freddie trying to get a beat going before “we’re gonna swing to some ‘Dragon Attack’ and you’re gonna get us stared, honey” to Taylor. “Love Of My Life” is introduced by Brian as usual and is the only acoustic number in the set. This simple arrangement with only Freddie and Brian is such a contrast with the studio version with the piano and stringed instruments to provide the emotional undertow. It is a credit to Freddie as songwriter that the same emotional force is conveyed in both versions.
“Keep Yourself Alive” begins the centerpiece of the set list, a twenty minute musical extravaganza. Taylor has a three minute drum solo before May begins his guitar solo which, surprisingly, isn’t dominated by the expected “Brighton Rock” and “Son & Daughter” motifs. A bit of “In The Death Cell” from the Flash Gordonsoundtrack is present. Tarantura track a section as “Execution Of Flash” which is not really played although the guitar riffs there bear a passing resemblance. “Vultan’s Theme” sounds very powerful in this clear recording and are segued with the the battle theme before they play the only single from the album, “Flash” (with Freddie playing discordant notes on the piano) and “The Hero.”
“Another One Bites The Dust” starts the lengthy encore set which includes the first three songs on News Of The World, “Sheer Heart Attack,” “We Will Rock You” and a triumphant “We Are The Champions.” Seventeen seconds of the post concert announcements closes the recording. The Miracle Gameis packaged in a gatefold sleeve with several photos from the event. It is again surprising that Tarantura are able to produce such an amazing sounding recording almost thirty years after the event and just as they released the definitive recording from Queen’s 1975 visit to Japan they have likewise the definitive recording of the 1981 tour.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)