This is Queen’s first performance in Argentina. The band have plenty to prove to their new South American audiences – something they haven’t needed to do on this level in several years, which would lead to seven incredibly energetic performances over the next three weeks.
Queen were the first rock band to play the big football stadiums in South America – a huge accomplishment. Just to grasp the idea of how popular the band were at the time, 9 of the top 10 albums in the Argentinian album chart were Queen albums. Reflecting on 1981, John Deacon later said it was “A year for discovering new audiences we didn’t know existed.” Similar to their first visit to Japan, they were being treated like The Beatles in America in 1964. Radio and TV stations would interrupt regularly scheduled programs with special Queen news bulletins. More pictures in the read more
Although the venue normally attributed to the shows in Buenos Aires is “Vélez Sársfield,” the name of the stadium is “Estadio José Amalfitani.” Vélez Sársfield is the name of the Buenos Aires football team. South American stadiums are often named informally after the teams that inhabit them, as football is such a huge part of their culture.
A press conference with the band the day before the show was shown on TV.
After the first song, Freddie very excitedly greets the equally excited audience in Spanish. The band perform their set full of vigour, and Freddie, as usual during this time period, is in fantastic voice. His vocal exchange with the audience in Now I’m Here is quite creative.
The band have occasional difficulty in concentrating on business as usual while buzzing off the energy of their first South American audience. Mercury stated after the show how nervous the band were, particularly about how the audience, who had never seen a big rock concert, would respond. Much to their delight, everything ran perfectly, on stage and off. After the audience sing the second verse of Love Of My Life (in a mass of Spanish accents), Brian proclaims, “You’re the greatest! You’re the best.”
Brian creates a beautiful solo with the delay in Need Your Loving Tonight.
Like he did in Tokyo, Freddie says a few words between lines of the first verse of Rock It. After the first stanza he says, “Let’s see if I hit it,” but he chickens out, saying “I’m never gonna make that note,” followed by a lower yet soulful take of “Thaaaaat rock and roll.”
The show was broadcast live on the radio, but no recording of it has seen the light of day. However, incomplete recordings from a soundboard tape have circulated for many years.
In a 1999 interview with Mojo magazine, Brian May reflected on their dwindling popularity in North America throughout the 80s and playing in places like South America: “There was always some place where we where shit-hot and we could go and be ourselves and not worry.”
Here’s a cool story from security coordinator: Jorge Fregonese
In 1981 I had the honor of being the security coordinator for Queen in Argentina, I also was Freddy’s translator and bodyguard. One evening, as we were leaving the 1st concert in Velez stadium the crowd was so big, that it was going to be dangerous for the band to leave in their cars (4 Ford Fairlanes). I came up with an idea… we emptied one of the police vans that were there to protect us against the crowds and filled it with the band, the security detail guys, Paul Prenter, Peter Freestone, Joe Fanelli… in all we were like 17 guys in there. The rest of the translators and the crew left in the normal cars to the sad faces of the crowd when they saw them exit without the band inside. Freddy’s comment was “I love this, we look like hookers taken to jail after being picked up by cops”.
We drove for 10 minutes with lights and sirens and motorcycles clearing the way until we passed a toll booth in a very crowded freeway (followed by a group of 20 or 30 cars with fans) we stopped in the middle of the freeway, emptied the van and got into the cars that were waiting for us. Meanwhile the crowd was trying to ram the toll booth because the attendant was to slow to process cars, when he learned that Queen was 1/2 a block away, he raised the electronic arm and ran out to chase us.