Queen is a band in a class of its own. Their mixture of progressive rock and pop music, the guitar mastery of Brian May, and, of course, the undeniable energy and talent of front man Freddie Mercury, allowed them to become arguably the best touring rock band on the planet by the early 80s. Queen was a juggernaut, playing to massive crowds around the world–there was no band bigger at that time. Of course, as we know now, things quickly took a turn for the worse as Mercury was diagnosed with AIDS, and the band was forced to stop touring. Mercury ended up dying from the disease, and fans around the world continue to mourn the loss of one of rock music’s truest icons. On the anniversary of Freddie Mercury’s tragic passing today, we take a look back at his final show with the band, on August 9th, 1986 in Knebworth, England.
In 1986, the band brought their massive summer tour–and final tour with Mercury–to a close with a remarkable 120,000+ person concert at famed Cricket stadium Knebworth Park. Queen were at the peak of their powers, and the energy they show throughout the performance proved their greatness.
Opening with “One Vision”, the band hit the stage and never looked back, turning in high energy performances of “Tie Your Mother Down” and “Tear It Up” before busting out some of their mega-hits in Under Pressure” and “Another One Bites The Dust”. In between hits, the band worked in a few improv moments, with Mercury performing a vocal jam early in the show, with the full band taking three minutes to let loose later in the show. Classic Queen songs “I Want To Break Free” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” made the set, and of course no Queen show would be complete without the multi-part classic “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
The band brought things to a close with an epic double encore. Up first, Queen played a lone encore of “Radio Ga Ga”, before returning to the stage one last time to deliver a quartet of songs classic songs. Starting with “We Will Rock You”, the band then performed “Friends Will Be Friends”, followed by a triumphant “We Are The Champions”. They then walked off to their traditional “God Save The Queen” outro, as that band’s rabid fans unknowingly said goodbye for the last time.
See below for a full video from the performance (courtesy of YouTube user TheBEATLESMania100n2), and check out the full setlist below. Queen was legendary, and Freddie Mercury was truly unique, and it’s still amazing to watch him perform all these years later. Enjoy the show!