Today we're doing something a little different on Young Ears, Fresh Perspective. While the content of this blog normally pertains to album reviews and rock news stories, this post will be a concert review. Last night I attended the kick-off show for the Queen + Adam Lambert tour that is currently going on.
Since the late Freddie Mercury's passing in 1991, many people have agreed that no one could ever take his place in Queen. While that may be true, that does NOT mean that no one is up to the task to performing his songs while giving them new life and keeping his memory alive. Last night at the United Center in Chicago, IL, Adam Lambert managed to do just that at the first gig of the tour he and Queen are doing together.
The performance got started about 45 minutes later than scheduled and had no opening act, but once Queen took the stage all was instantly forgiven. As the first of many pleasing surprises, the concert started with the band playing a guitar instrumental called Procession that was used to begin not only Queen's second album Queen II, but also many of their early concerts back in the 1970's. The curtain was then lifted and the band powered right into Now I'm Here.
The band exhibited many of their hits, but surprisingly also quite a few of their older numbers that don't necessarily get a whole lot of radio airplay. Such surprises consisted of songs like Stone Cold Crazy, Seven Seas of Rhye, and Now I'm Here. At one point, the trio of Lambert along with original Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor performed their own version of Love Kills, a song Freddie Mercury composed and performed for the redone soundtrack of the silent film Metropolis back in 1984.
For those who are more fond of Queen's more pop oriented music, they appeased the crowd with such songs as Radio Gaga, These Are the Days of Our Lives, and Crazy Little Thing Called Love. To end the show (but before the encore), the widely popular Bohemian Rhapsody was played and even included a visit from Freddie Mercury on the video screen above the stage.
While Queen's songs speak for themselves, the band did more than just stand there and play the songs as though they were a live jukebox. Quite the contrary, actually. Queen + Adam Lambert put on a full spectacle of a show. In all honesty, it was exactly what one expects to see at such a concert. Lambert took on a very flamboyant diva-like character that was really all his own. He commanded the attention of the audience and interacted with them in his own charming ways. He sang the songs as though he himself had written them, rather than trying to imitate Mercury. What was spooky was the way Lambert could hit the falsettos in songs like Somebody to Love. He had a variety of flashy costumes that he would change into throughout the show that often sparkled and kept the concert goer from diverting their attention anywhere else. The pinnacle part of Lambert's performance though was the expensive and royal looking couch he dramatically lazed upon during the band's performance of Killer Queen. At the same time, he also exuded a very professional vibe when his mic went out during the first song. He just ran over to the other side of the stage, picked up one of the backing vocal mics, and jumped right back in where the song was currently was.
May and Taylor were both on top of their game. Though the both of them have aged, they exuded the energy of men half their age. They gave each and every last song their all. Even if Lambert had failed to impress anyone, May's guitar playing would have more than compensated for it, seeing as he tore it up through every song. With age, his finesse and technical skills have only improved. While not running all around the stage as Lambert was, he still didn't stay in one place too long either. For some odd reason Taylor had an additional drummer with him playing along to every song. However, Taylor's drumming was a force to be reckoned with especially during the thunderous drum dual between him and the second drummer.
In terms of stage set up there were lasers, a disco ball, a gigantic circular video screen with a frame that could move up and down around the stage, a multitude of spectacular light set-ups, and fog machines. The stage itself was unique in that it wasn't just an ordinary stage. In addition to that it also had a long curving platform that the performers could walk out onto with a large circular platform at the end to make the stage look like a giant Q. These stage implements were all integrated in ways that one would have to see in order to fully believe and understand. In a way, these things made the concert seem more like the kind of thing one would come to expect from a Las Vegas show which in a sense is what a Queen show is supposed to be. It certainly flowed the way one would expect it to.
Overall the Queen + Adam Lambert concert was very much worth the time and money to go see. Many of the people who packed the United Center to its rafters would agree. The music was fantastic, the stage set-up was phenomenal and unique, and one could tell that all the musicians were putting their hearts and souls into every last detail. Many fan favorite songs and surprises were played and there was no shortage of visuals to capture the imagination. If you get the chance to see them in your city, it is vital that you get to a show.
Queen + Adam Lambert's performance receives 5 out of 5 stars.
Videos from the performace:
Somebody to Love:
Set List for Queen + Adam Lambert in Chicago on June 19th, 2014:
Now I'm Here
Stone Cold Crazy
Another One Bites the Dust
Fat Bottomed Girls
In the Lap of the Gods... Revisited
Seven Seas of Rhye
Somebody to Love
I Want It All
Love of My Life
(Duet with Freddy Mercury on screen )
These Are the Days of Our Lives
(Freddie Mercury cover)
Who Wants to Live Forever
(With guitar solo)
Tie Your Mother Down
Radio Ga Ga
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
The Show Must Go On
(with Freddie Mercury image on screen)
We Will Rock You
We Are the Champions
God Save the Queen
(Thomas Augustine Arne song)