|Brian May, Adam Lambert.|
I read on Facebook today somebody likening Queen + Adam Lambert to the Pink Floyd tribute show that possibly too frequently plays the 1,200 capacity Founders Theatre in Hamilton. Well two sold out nights of 9,000 (18,000 total) in Auckland capping off a sold out world tour (including New York’s Madison Square Gardens) would at least suggest some differences. So too presumably the presence of the man who wrote A Kind Of Magic (original drummer Roger Taylor) and the man who wrote We Will Rock You (original guitarist, PHD holder Brian May).
Last night’s concert was quite incredible. 32 year old Adam Lambert was born to be in Queen and just as Bee Gee Barry Gibb came to understand his catalogue was too significant not to be heard live despite the loss of his brothers, so too is the music of Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon.
More important than the fact the staging and light / laser show was as expertly realised as any I’ve seen at an indoor concert, more important than Taylor and May being A-list rock musicians who wrote many of Queen’s finest songs and more important than Adam Lambert’s vocals and charisma being almost as remarkable as Mercury’s, it’s the reality Queen + Adam Lambert is tonally bang on.
What that means is that in concert they sound outstanding, they sound like Queen and they don’t sound like a tribute act. Lambert is both in sync with his famous band as well as being his own man in much the same way Brian Johnson of AC/DC is, despite having inherited the mantle of Bon Scott. Of course the AC/DC / Queen lead-singer comparisons are far from exact considering Johnson replaced the deceased Scott just months after his death and Lambert’s arrival is more than 20 years on from the death of Mercury. There’s also the small matter of AC/DC somehow picking up the pieces of losing their lead singer to almost immediately releasing Back In Black, selling more than 40 million copies and securing their legacy in the process.
|Queen in the mid-80s: Freddie, John, Roger and Brian.|
Nevertheless, all told Queen have have had a far greater musical and cultural impact than AC/DC and it is unrealistic to expect new chart-toppers from a band whose history stretches back approximately 45 years. Unlike Paul Rodgers who became the post-Mercury Queen frontman for a time, Lambert could not be more right for this band, nor more honouring of his hero’s legend. He is flamboyant without being cringe-ably camp and is very likely the most remarkable singer to have ever featured in the 12 years of American Idol (2009 runner-up).
Click here to read New Zealand Herald writer Russell Baillie’s review of the concert and see below the lyrics and video to one of last night’s standouts, Under Pressure. How is it you can hear a song a million times but it’s not until you see it live that you stop and think about the lyrics? Sure, I knew the Queen / David Bowie 1981 #1 hit Under Pressure reportedly once had the working title People On Streets and that the final title clearly indicates people battling pressure. But it wasn’t until Roger and Adam were trading lines that I thought about the simple compassion of Under Pressure’s ending:
‘Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
I’m pleased Roger and Brian found Adam and I’m pleased he found them. Freddie and maybe even the long retired John would be proud.