elgg 2.1.2: live site has 1000 SQL queries running on activity page.. and test site has 160! any idea why?

i just upgraded my live site to 2.1.2 from 1.12.x and am not seeing the kind of fast response times i had seen in my test site that runs the same code on the same hardware.

when i enabled the developer tools feedback panel in the live site, i saw that the live site is generating dramatically more SQL queries per page than the test site is. my only thoughts on why that could be is that there is that the live site runs on a different language collation (latin) to the test site (utf8) and maybe the live site's database has errors i don't know about causing more queries to be run somehow?!

at this point i have no real clue as to what is really causing this - so any input here would be appreciated.