1 May 1975, Queen performed @ Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, Japan 🇯🇵 “Sheer Heart Attack Tour”
Their first world tour comes to an end….
This is the last concert of the Sheer Heart Attack tour, and the performance is incredible. The show can be seen as a culmination of early Queen, as the band would move into their next epoch and mature in many ways with the creation and success of ‘A Night At The Opera.’
Like the previous night, ‘Great King Rat’ is heard in place of ‘Father To Son.’ But for the last night’s sake, they also play the rarely-heard non-album track ‘Hangman’ – its first performance since 1973.
Queen perform nearly every song with unique embellishments tonight. Brian plays a daringly long and creative guitar solo in ‘Son And Daughter’ (including part of the traditional Japanese folk song “Sakura”, something which he’d often play in Japan over the years), and they turn in an extra long version of ‘Liar.’
Freddie gets very enthusiastic after ‘Son And Daughter.’ “And now this is where you join in with us. You can clap your hands to this next number. We’d like you especially to join in. You can stand up if you’d like, you can stamp your feet, you can have a good time! This is called ‘Keep Yourself Alive!’”
The band came on for the encore dressed in kimonos. With this gesture, the band somehow manage to turn up the excitement of the already ecstatic audience a notch. They finish up with the B-side ‘See What A Fool I’ve Been,’ bringing their first Japanese tour to a close.
This is the last time ‘In The Lap Of The Gods’ would be performed. Tonight also marks the last time the full version of ‘Great King Rat’ would be heard live. It would be revived, albeit in much shorter form, in 1984.
Japan is the first country to hail Queen as superstars, making this tour a massive success. All of the band’s albums and singles have sold very well up to this point, and all four band members had been consistently voted the top musicians in their respective fields in Music Life, Japan’s biggest music magazine. In the September 1975 issue, the band are asked about this last gig of the tour. Roger Taylor says “the atmosphere was wonderful,” while John Deacon adds, “I also remember appearing in a kimono on stage for the first time in that concert.”
One notable thing about these early Japanese shows is that Freddie is just learning how to communinicate with larger audiences, but often with little success since most audience members didn’t speak English. The fact that bands like The Beatles, Deep Purple, Queen, and Cheap Trick were so successful in a country where most of their fans couldn’t understand a word of their music goes to show how powerful music is in its ability to transcend cultural barriers. Japan has become more Anglicized in recent decades, so this observation really is a snapshot of history.
Brian May’s response to being asked in a 2019 interview about their stage poses: “We had our influences, but we were never choreographed. We did it all instinctively, but there was an awareness of energy flow on stage. I think Japan changed us. We went to Japan and were treated like we were the Beatles. Every move we made was greeted by some kind of response from the audience, so we learned very quickly, instinctively, to use that. I think I wasn’t a very physical guitar player in the beginning, but experiencing the Budokan and that wall of appreciation molded us into people who are much more physical and responsive to what the audience felt.”