14 April 1979, Queen performed their second evening @ Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, Japan Live Killers Tour”
The band are in absolute top form. Freddie is still relatively strong on this second night of the tour, putting in a great performance – even if he barely makes it through ‘Bohemian Rhapsody!’ But his true genius shines through in shows like this, as he could modify an entire performance on the fly, adapting the songs to the shape of his voice and, ultimately, his level of confidence. This long tour would ultimately teach him plenty about preserving his voice, as he would come out flying at the shows later in the year.
Freddie greets the audience in Japanese after the first song, and adds, “Thank god that’s over.”
After ‘Somebody To Love,’ Freddie begins to introduce the next song. “We’re gonna play a lot of music for you tonight. This next song is from an album called Jazz.” The audience gives the record a good cheer, prompting a response from Freddie. “Oh, you recognize. Yes, a bit better than last night. This is a John Deacon composition. It’s called ‘If You Can’t Beat ‘Em… join ’em!’l. Brian May does a ripping solo in the tail end of the song.
In ‘Killer Queen,’ Freddie sings, “Perfume came naturally from Tokyo,” and the audience definitely takes notice.
“There’s no peace for the wicked,” says Freddie before starting the piano intro to ‘Spread Your Wings.’ It’s one of the hardest songs of the set for him to sing, and it is said that Freddie would often noodle on the piano to prepare for such a thing. Tonight he plays a few arpeggios, the first of which is the same notes as ‘Father To Son’ from Queen II, and the audience are pleased with what they hear (whether or not Freddie realized he was playing the old song is another thing). “Just a short interlude,” he adds. “This is called Spread Your Wings.”
Roger lets out a scream before the band begin ‘Dreamers Ball,’ to the delight of the audience. Freddie says, “Do another one; they want it.” He lets out an even bigger scream, to which Freddie quips, “He’s the man of the group.”
On this Japanese tour Freddie’s phrasing of ‘Love Of My Life’ is very different from the original, making for a gorgeous listen every time. It’s his way of pacing himself so his voice can remain intact, often leading to great results.
The famous photo for the front cover of “Live Killers” was taken by Koh Hasebe, during this show in Tokyo.
An interview with the photographer (from the book “Queen in Japan,” translated from Japanese by “deathtoming”) reveals this story: “The concept for the cover was up to the band, and before a show the four of them would go back and forth with ideas backstage. I thought Freddie was the one who would decide these things, but I was wrong. Freddie actually didn’t say much. He’d use gestures to communicate what he wanted to say. I asked Roger, “Is there something wrong with Freddie’s throat?” And Roger responded, “Freddie’s always like that before a show.” I then realized that Freddie took great care of his throat and voice, as a vocalist. We decided that the band would go to the front of the stage at the end of the concert to wave, bow, and so forth, but they’d forget to do that. They would just forget and quickly go back stage. What a pain that was. I was below them at the front of the stage, so I did my best to get their attention, but they were so caught up in the moment that they wouldn’t notice me. Afterwards, I would go to them backstage and say, “Hey, you didn’t do what we had discussed,” and they’d just say, “Oh, we forgot.” By the third attempt I got something close to what I wanted. Personally, I wasn’t too thrilled with it.”
Source Queen Live