I’m a Queen fan. A big Queen fan. Have been since I can remember. Seeing May and Taylor on the big stage is a wonderful thing for me. Nothing else really matters...I went to a number of shows on the two Queen and Paul Rodgers tours and enjoyed them immensely; that though always felt like an odd combination; a blues rock singer, singing songs from a band that were as far away from blues as Brian May is from joining a Boxing Day Hunt. That an American Idol runner up, half the age of May and Taylor, should be any better is laughable of course…yet weirdly…somehow…Lambert is.
Queen music seems to have been sold off as the soundtrack to every advert going (Somebody to Love used to sell sofas anyone?) but at least it keeps Queen music in the here and now. As for Lambert? Well he doesn’t have the rock background or rock pedigree and I for one was highly sceptical of what he could bring to Queen. Yet as it turns out he is a front man who not only looks the part but also possesses all the showman qualities needed. Most importantly of all he has one hell of a voice.
We had started queuing at 5.30pm (as we are pretty keen but not stupid). Good enough to get us to the pit barrier. Not good enough to get in the first 200 to get in the actual pit. Luckily fellow Queen geek Mark kept pestering the security guard who said that if we kept near the pit gate we may be allowed in. We didn't move. As the first sounds of One Vision started at 8.25, just as the curtain flew up, just as I was giving up hope, we got the signal and Mark left me for dust as he flew into the pit. Luckily I hung on to his coat tails and somehow we found ourselves three from the front. Marvellous.
The set list tonight contained hit after hit, no real surprises but then who cares. When a band has as many well-known songs as Queen then they shouldn't be ashamed to play to the crowd (as Adam pointed out the trouble with Queen is they just have too many hits). The stage is a throwback to tours gone by and like Queen is way over the top. That though is why I love this band. Everything to the max. Brian May is an iconic guitarist and the writer of many rock classics. Roger Taylor still looks like the rock star that he always was (actually he looks a little too much like Uncle Albert these days....or at least Uncle Albert with attitude). The rest of the musicians on stage include the unofficial 5th member of Queen, Spike Edney, as well as Roger’s son Rufus (the spit of his Dad 40 years ago). The line-up is completed by bass player Neil ‘not John Deacon’ Fairclough and it is obvious that after touring America last year this is a band that are a tight unit.
One Vision is an excellent way to open the show and following that up with Stone Cold Crazy shows their intent right from the off... Lambert is dressed very much like Freddie in his rock star mode and it is clear that that he has all the rock star moves to go with it. Dust, Fat Bottomed Girls (which sees Lambert in his element) follow while Lap of the Gods has the arms swaying. Seven Seas is joyous before Adam drapes himself across a Chaise Lounge for a very funny and camp take on Killer Queen.
I Want To Break Free and Somebody to Love finish off the first half and then it is May’s moment. He is front and centre and it is great to see him so happy and relaxed. He sings a light hearted but very much heartfelt Maybe It’s Because I’m A Londoner followed by Love of My Life and ’39. Roger’s up next with These Are The Days which he sings walking round the stage, microphone in hand. He never quite looks comfortable doing that, always looks more at ease behind the drum kit but his voice is still as brilliantly hoarse as ever. He has a drum duel with Rufus before duetting with the returning Lambert on Under Pressure. Save Me is good but it is the stunning, note perfect, Who Wants to Live Forever, that confirms that this Lambert fellah is the real deal.
Brian’s guitar solo includes Last Horizon from his own Back To The Light album. Guitar solos...a slightly dinosaur thing to do these days it has to be said. However this is Brian ‘Red Special’ May. How can he not do a solo? Ok so solos definitely divide opinion. Some in the crowd use it as the time to get a drink, others stand in awe at a guitar hero in action. For me it does go on too long but I would be disappointed if I didn’t get to see May do his thing.
Tie Your Mother Down gets the jumping going (and my dodgy knees hurting) although I soon realise I’m the only one jumping and so self-consciously and rather sheepishly put a stop to my silly behaviour (I forgot us Queen fans aren’t as young as we used to be). Rufus Taylor takes the lead drums on that one and shows what a hell of a drummer he is (very Taylor Hawkins like).
I Want It All is powerful; really wish we had chance to see Fred sing that one live, before Radio Ga Ga has the hands in the air. It is poetry in motion watching Queen fans clap along to that song, not missing a beat. Alas Mark crumbled and got his timing all wrong somehow blaming it on the woman in front who couldn’t keep time either. His Queen Fan star rating dropped a couple of points after that. Crazy Little Thing sees me trying to dance but failing miserably then its time for the national anthem: Bohemian Rhapsody. It sees the impressive screen behind the band show Freddie and it really is hard to not get a lump in the throat. Unbelievable to think he was only 45 when he died. Even harder to believe it is 24 years ago this year since his sad passing.
We Will Rock You and Champions finish the show as they have since time began (well they are dinosaurs after all). While God Save the Queen is played and the band take their bows I look up to the ceiling and not only manage to swallow half the glitter that is coming down but also curse that I hadn't booked more than one concert….hmmm...I may have to rectify that.
2 hours and 15 minutes that blew the January blues away. If you have your doubts then take it from me Adam Lambert should not be underestimated. Yes by fronting Queen he has undoubtedly done his profile no harm at all in Europe. Yet he has also done the same across the pond for Queen. Lambert is breaking down barriers in America in more ways than one and it is great to see a new showman in town.
I was certainly worried by this collaboration initially but now I just want to go and see them again (I may get to hear Don't Stop Me Now as well). How long this particular partnership will continue we don’t know but if it means more shows like this then bring it on.
Ticket Price: £69.00