REVIEW – QUEEN + ADAM LAMBERT

Adam Lambert@Newcastle Metro Radio Arena, January 13 2015

AC/DC did it. Van Halen managed remarkably well. Journey are a band reborn and Foreigner are still filling arenas. Tales of successful stadium rock bands synonymous with flamboyant former frontmen are ten a penny. Why Queen cannot follow – or be allowed to follow – their lead is baffling.

2015 will mark the 24th anniversary of Freddie Mercury’s death and it’s time to move on. Honestly. It’s not a case of ignoring a legacy or devaluing the past. Due respect morphed into damaging reverence where Mercury was concerned and Queen’s stuttering progress during the last two decades has been dreadful to watch. 

Channelling the common desire and trademark determination of Johnson, Hagar, Pineda and Hansen, Mercury’s successor is on a mission to prove, once and for all, that the show can – and must – go on. Adam Lambert must be sick of hearing that oh-so familiar ‘it’s just not Queen without Freddie’ refrain but he hides the frustration well. It is Queen. And, yes, it is without Freddie. Welcome to the real world.

That world is a far, far better place for the assured Lambert and his refreshing take on a back catalogue brimful with brilliant rock anthems. The American Idol finalist has breathed new life into a staid act. And he’s done it in the face of a shit storm of wholly undeserved criticism, ill-judged scepticism, deep mistrust and staggering insensitivity (the backlash following Queen’s live New Year’s Eve set on the BBC was extraordinary). Lambert has never pretended to be anything other than the respectful custodian of Mercury’s sparkling legacy but his band mates have hardly helped douse the flames.

Brian May and Roger Taylor might have identified the one man capable of fusing past, present and (possibly) future where Queen is concerned but even the giant trailers transporting towering lighting rigs the length and breadth of Britain are tactlessly daubed with Queen + Adam Lambert. From day one the Indiana-born entertainer has never been allowed to be a part of the band – merely an extension of the brand. This tour – like the stories of those bands referenced above – will prove that’s sheer folly.

Lambert dazzled in front of a full house on Tyneside, matching a series of outlandish outfits to his versatile vocal range. If the opening four numbers proved to be a forgivable false start (nerves may well have got the better of the eager-to-please singer) then his take on Killer Queen – while stretched across a chaise longue and supping Champagne – proved to be the turning point.

Lambert nailed it and just about everything else that followed. Even a potentially challenging ‘duet’ with a virtual Mercury didn’t faze the 32-year-old as he traded choruses on the evocative Bohemian Rhapsody. May and Taylor looked on with pride as their protégé pulled out all of the stops and Lambert’s reward should be a more inclusive role moving forward.

Fear of the frighteningly blunt pro-Mercury lobby might prevent that but the majority of a capacity crowd appeared to appreciate the driving force behind their favourite band’s glorious resurrection. Lambert is the right man, in the right place at the right time and without him there really would be no Queen.

Simon Rushworth

Exclusive image courtesy of John Burrows @ishootgigs

I’m a journalist specialising in sport and rock music. Can’t play either so I write about them instead.

21 comments

  • krmmelo1@yahoo.com' melody

    Thank you for this wonderful review.. I find some Freddie fans to be beyond rude and full of hate. Their fear of Adam’s incredible voice overtaking Freddie’s legacy,is totally ill conceived .If anything Mr. Lambert is keeping the legacy alive for all to revel in.Fear is a terrible thing and can be destrucitve to Queen,the very band these same fans say they love.” Love is never having to say you’re sorry”

    • simon

      Very well said Melody and thanks so much for taking the time to read the review and leave your comment. I really appreciate it. Simon.

  • soozinconfuzin@yahoo.com' SusanSporran

    Among great reviews this one is spot on. I have felt the “+ Adam Lambert” has helped Adam to be identified also for his solo work, of which a 3rd album will be forthcoming this year, however I can understand how it can also be seen as not fully incorporating him into the band. As for the “blunt pro-Mercury lobby,” if they were truly Freddie fans they would know that the LAST thing he would ever have wanted was for his music, his legacy, to have died with him, which it damn near did. Adam has resurrected it in a way that is outstanding to experience, and the joy that he, Brian and Roger display while performing together is infectious. Hundreds of thousands of us LOVE this incarnation of Queen and nobody has the right to deny us the opportunity to see it as long as the band is willing to bring it.

  • DaisyJane26@gmail.com' Jazzie

    You sure said it right ! Adam Lambert is brilliant with Queen !
    Without a doubt the most amazing singer/artist in The Industry today.
    Put him next to any one of the flaunted singers out there and he will sing circles around any of them.. ANY of them.. And Queen saw that. and took him in..
    The most awe inspiring collab in the Rock World….
    He’s no Freddie M………and that’s ok with us because he’s Adam Lambert and there is none better…………….. Rockgod and so beautiful to look at… whoa.

  • davison_andrea@yahoo.com' Andy

    On the naming of this current iteration of Queen…..could it be, out of respect for Adam Lambert, who is a celebrity in his own right, May and Taylor decided to honor and respect him as an individual. Lambert has said repeatedly that this is one of his gigs. His desire not to be absorbed as a part of Queen is no disrespect, just an acknowledgement that this fronting of Queen is not wholly or exclusively what he does.

    • simon

      That’s a good point Andy and may well be true. Even so I think it’s a strange situation and in my mind separates Adam from the band. I am well aware that Adam is a huge celebrity in his own right but being ‘part of Queen’ would surely be of benefit.

  • dtlreid@btinternet.com' dawn reid

    Thank you for this wonderful review. I love that you get it wholeheartedly – it IS Queen, band and singer as one (& I’m a life long Queen fan as well as and Adam fan). Hopefully this tour will cement that. Now I’m on hyper excited countdown for Saturday.
    You rock :))

  • Xentafy@yahoo.com' Jet

    Nice review. Honestly one of the best concerts I have ever seen. This tour with Queen plus Adam Lambert will shock you at how freaking good it is.

    • simon

      I agree it’s a tremendous show. As a ‘neutral’ it set the bar incredibly high for 2015. Wonder if Slipknot can match Queen at the same place on Monday…I’ll let you know.

  • capahuwi@yahoo.com' Emily

    AC/DC lost their front man, hired a new one and carried on. VanHalen changed their front man and made new music. Journey took a hiatus, regrouped with a new front man and made new music – and then replaced the front man again and made more new music. Queen doesn’t fall into the same category. Brian and Roger have spent the last 20 odd years milking the old Queen legacy – no better evidence of that than the 10+ compilation albums they’ve released since 1991, including yet another “repeat” just last year with only 2 “new” songs that use Freddie’s vocals. The story has been the same all along – without Freddie there is no Queen. Adam Lambert has done nothing to change that.

    • simon

      You make some very good points here Emily. As a ‘neutral’, rather than a Queen fan, I’d not thought about it in those terms. But is Adam Lambert in a position to change that? I think he is. Of course there’s a suggestion in what you write that Brian and Roger aren’t really interested in writing new music. That may well be the case. Let’s wait and see…

  • loverglitter@yahoo.es' ATG

    I think they should go into a studio together o leave this at this point. Three talented guys and there’s not new music. What a shame. Brian wrote amazing songs Roger as well. I’m not expecting Adam to write rock anthems, but at least he can sing, he is an unbelievable vocalist.

    • simon

      I agree ATG. Take a look at what Emily says – at the very least new music would garner greater respect. If there’s no new music will Queen remain relevant? Probably. Will they still sell out arenas? Definitely. But new material is the best way forward after this tour runs its course. Otherwise – like you say – it’s best to call it a day.

  • Adam has indicated very strongly that he wants to be a solo artist, as he’s been since he was in American Idol. He has said he’s thrilled & honoured to be singing with Queen & he may well sing with them from time to time in the future but he first & foremost wants to remain a solo artist. Brian & Roger are loving QAL (Queen+Adam Lambert) as it’s affectionately called but at their age, they don’t want to tour forever but if they do tour, they want Adam to be their frontman. They think the world of him. And they MAY record together in the future. Freddie Mercury is one of Adam’s absolute idols & he’s loving singing the band’s songs while respecting the fact that Freddie wrote some of them. I am sure if the boot were on the other foot i.e. if Freddie were replacing Adam as frontman of Queen or any other band, all hell would break loose in Adam’s fandom. His fans wouldn’t stand for that at all so it’s not surprising that some of Queen’s fans are not happy that Adam is “taking Freddie’s place”. Whether we like it or not, it’s basic human nature to protect someone (or something) to whom we are devoted.

    • simon

      Great points Jules. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. Your final point, in particular, gets right to the heart of this issue.

  • glspence396@gmail.com' Glenda

    I saw 3 Queen/Adam Lambert concerts during the American tour. During those concerts, I watched many die hard Queen fans (mostly older guys with classic Queen t-shirts on) start off unsure of this new Lambert guy, and by 3 or 4 songs into the concert these Queen fans were won over! I saw several guys with tears streaming down their faces after the stunning vocals of “Who Wants to Live Forever”. One Queen fan told me before the show he wasn’t really sure he wanted to hear Adam Lambert, but he loved Queen so much and had seen them perform live with Freddie twice. I asked him to please let me know what he thought at the end of the show. Not even halfway through the concert – he turned around and high-fived me SO hard my hand hurt for a couple of days!! He was very stoked, to say the least! So personally, I LOVE this QAL collaboration and I truly feel Freddie would abhor those who choose to hate. Brian has said that he thinks Freddie would really like Adam. Adam Lambert is the only male vocalist/performer out there today I can think of who can truly do justice to Freddie – not just his vocal prowess but also his amazing stage presence – rare qualities Adam shares with Freddie. It’s all good; no, make that fantastic.

  • ds989837@gmail.com' Dsvid a Saunders

    It’s march 31 2017.usa 10pm cst. Alot has happened. I cannot find any current comments from you simon . I don’t have awebsite. A new tour for queen/al starts in july. Us canada south america. If you get this youor whoeverplease reply. Thanks!

  • Name spelling. David. A Saunders

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