In June the mighty Queen machine rolled into action for the very last time with Freddie, and the Magic tour of Europe commenced. Using the biggest stage and lighting rig ever assembled, the band played mostly stadiums and some large arenas across Europe and the UK.
Following an unusually long period of rehearsal at Wembley in London during May and June, Queen travel to Stockholm for the first Magic Tour shows.
The Magic Tour incorporates the UK and nine European countries only. It is never taken to America, Japan or Canada, as were most other tours. It consists of twenty-six performances at twenty separate locations, played over an eight week period. It includes Queen’s first and only show in Budapest, Hungary, and also their only concert at the beautiful Knebworth Park site, in Hertfordshire.
Queen are again Britain’s most popular band and the UK shows break all attendance records like never before. The queue for tickets at Newcastle (the first show in England) was longer than that seen in 1974, when Newcastle United reached the FA Cup Final. All 38,000 tickets were sold within an hour. The proceeds from this show are donated by the band and promoter Harvey Goldsmith to the international Save The Children Fund.
At the two Wembley Stadium shows, the show itself incorporated the largest lighting rig ever assembled for a live show, weighing over nine and a half tons. The stage was the largest ever erected there and measured 160 ft wide and over 52 ft high from ground level to the top of the lights. It was capable of filling one entire end of Wembley and was so heavy that supports had to be bored into the concrete foundations of the stadium.
The second show is filmed by Tyne Tees Television, and later broadcast as their first ever radio / television simulcast, transmitted to all 48 stations in the Independent Radio Network. It is also released in edited form on home video and later a complete version is issued on DVD.
The Manchester show on July 16th sold out so quickly that it was reported that more than double the amount of tickets could have been sold for the 35,000 seat football venue, thus making Queen’s concert the fastest selling show in the history of the city.
They made history on July 27th when they played at the Nepstadion in Hungary. It was the first time that a major rock band had played a stadium date in the Eastern Bloc, and was filmed by the Hungarian Film State company Mafilm Dialog. The filming necessitates using nearly every available 35mm television camera in the country, seventeen in all. This show too would be released on home video and titled Live In Budapest.
Queen's final show of the tour took place at Knebworth Park on August 9th, with the 15th century mansion house being a fitting location for what would sadly prove to be Queen’s very last concert with Freddie. Before an audience variously estimated at between 160,000 and 200,000, Queen certainly went out in style.
Text taken from the forthcoming revised and updated edition of Queen Live: A Concert Documentary.