7   +   3   =  

@ Metro Radio Arena, November 4 2008

AS one of the finest orators of the modern age, new US President-elect Barack Obama won’t be sharing his acceptance speech with running mate Joe Biden.
 
A fighting fit Tigers Wood would always feature in the maximum five matches for a US Ryder Cup team while Manchester United try to give Cristiano Ronaldo possession at every opportunity.
 
In life the route to success is to play to your strengths.
 
Queen and Paul Rodgers were excellent at the Newcastle Arena but they could have been even better had they followed that dictate.
 
In Teesside-born Rodgers, they possess arguably the finest blues singer in rock music.
 
it is a measure of the man’s ageless talent that he was the star of the show, delivering a vocal performance as flawless as during his days with Free and Bad Company.
 
Brian May and Roger Taylor were fans of Rodgers even before they joined Freddie Mercury and John Deacon in Queen and their decision to revive the band with him at the mic has proved inspirational.
 
Yet there remain a minority of Queen fans who still regard this reincarnation as an act of heresy.  They are wrong.
 
The charismatic Mercury was irreplaceable and Rodgers has never tried to replicate his stage act.
 
Instead, he offers a more bluesy edge to songs made famous by the sadly-missed Mercury with Crazy Little Thing Called Love and The Show Must Go On in particular taking on a fresh dimension.
 
When Queen first toured with Rodgers three years ago, the singer was off stage for more than a third of the contest. It was a deliberately tactful ploy by a band still wary of crowd reaction.
 
In 2008 with a new album released, May, Taylor and Rodgers are a brand in their own right yet once again, he spends time mid-concert in the background.
 
It feels like the guys are still pandering to those who want an exclusively Queen product.
 
But it is not necessary.
 
Queen and Rodgers pay a genuinely touching tribute to Mercury during May’s evocative guitar solo and in the cleverly-worked rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody.
 
That’s followed by a breathtaking quartet of encores featuring the new Cosmos Rocks, Free’s classic Alright Now and the Queen singalongs We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions.
 
But after a rousing, rocky start, the gig does flag in the middle with Rodgers offstage.
 
May’s Love Of My Life is delightful and Taylor’s raucous I’m In Love With My Car is a lot better than his tedious front-of-stage drum solo.
 
But perhaps the night would have been better served with Rodgers perhaps singing tracks from some of Queen’s Sheer Heart Attack or Queen II which haven’t been performed live for more than two decades.
 
On a personal note, I’d have preferred a couple more songs by Free or Bad Company.
 
Rodgers – on grand piano – was at his soulful best singing Bad Company itself while of the new songs We Believe was a genuine crowdpleaser and an abridged Voodoo a welcome surprise.
 
May and Taylor deserve the eternal gratitude of rock fans by bringing back to life one of music’s finest back catalogues.
 
But just as they were during Mercury’s pomp, the pair find themselves eclipsed by a remarkable frontman.
 
And there’s probably no-one more delighted than themselves.

Ian Murtagh