Iconic Band & Flamboyant Singer Delight Sell-Out As They the Blow Roof Off State Farm Arena
Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer
Whether you see Queen + Adam Lambert in Vegas or anywhere across America, it is a theatrical and entertainment experience you don't want to miss. Some 20K fans of the iconic band filled State Farm Arena Monday (Oct 23rd) to witness one of the greatest bands to ever emerge during the rock n' roll era, as Queen + Adam Lambert brought their Rhapsody Tour to Atlanta.
Despite legendary front-man Freddie Mercury being gone over 32 years now, you can damn well bet American Idol alum Lambert fills his shoes and every other flamboyant frock of Freddie's masterfully and with precision. Although Lambert is his own entertainer, he embodies the spirit and energy the late Mercury radiated from the stage during his heyday, with Lambert bringing every classic Queen song to life as it was meant to be.
Since coming to the forefront of the entertainment industry as an American Idol finalist in 2009, Lambert has been recognized for his showmanship and dedication to the craft. And while it's impossible to replicate the vocal range and persona of Mercury, perhaps no other performer has better risen to the challenge than Lambert, who with his own dynamic vocals has been fronting Queen on and off for nearly a decade, providing fans worldwide with the closest interpretation of the original four man unit.
In over 150 minutes and what can only be described as five individual acts, Lambert with founding members guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, as well as seasoned touring keyboardist Spike Edney, bassist Neil Fairclough and percussionist Tyler Warren enthralled concert goers with more than two dozen familiar rock radio staples.
Incorporating a dazzling laser light show, the six member unit ripped right into a montage of 'Machines (or 'Back to Humans')' and 'Radio Ga-Ga' followed by 'Hammer to Fall', all off their 1984 multi-platinum release 'The Works'. The latter gained momentum when Queen performed it at Live Aid in 1985. The band revisited their early roots offering up the up-tempo thrash metal track 'Stone Cold Crazy' from 1974's 'Sheer Heart Attack', the bands third studio album and the one that put the British rockers on the global rock n' roll map.
Act One concluded with 'Another One Bites the Dust' with Lambert inviting the audience to clap and sing along, giving a big shout out to Hot-lanta! The bands lone attempt to generate buzz on the disco charts, 'Dust', was written by former bassist John Deacon who exited Queen after Mercury's death. The single was the most popular song of 1980, having spent three weeks atop the US Billboard Hot 100 charts, and 31 weeks on the charts overall.
Under the hard rocking guitar prowess of May, the heart pounding drum work of Taylor, and the theatrical stage presence of Lambert, Queen peppered the remainder of their show with recognizable hits laced with a few obscure tracks appreciated by hardcore followers of the band. Taylor kicked off Act II applying his gravelly voice to 'I'm In Love With My Car', a track he wrote for about his Alfa Romeo and made it on to Queen's most prolific release, 1975 'A Night at the Opera'.
From 'Bicycle Race', 'Fat Bottomed Girls', and 'I Want It All' to 'Killer Queen', 'Somebody to Love', and 'Under Pressure' the show was a nonstop hit parade, taking those 50 and older back to simpler times. Lambert's costume change and subsequent return on a metallic motorcycle during 'Bicycle Race' elevated the jazz infused rock number and was a welcome addition to an already visual spectacular.
While May at 76 and 74 year old Taylor are the remaining nucleus for Queen, 41 year old Lambert has breathed new life into the Queen, calling on all his musical theatre background while beguiling the audience during 'Killer Queen' and 'I Want It All' proving the spirited vocalist 'wants it all'.
May's spotlight performance front and center stage with him singing 'Love of My Life' followed by '39' provided a tender moment from the guitar god, and was a nice segue way into a taped Timpano Solo from 1981, and Taylor's drum solo. Taylor was joined by Lambert for a rousing rendition of 'Under Pressure' made famous by Queen and David Bowie. The trio concluded their mid-arena performance with 'Tie Your Mother Down' and 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love'.
May would grab the spotlight several songs later thrashing his axe elevated high above the main stage in what can only be described as a celestial moment, as he finished mid stage with 'Is This The World We Created..". 'The Show Must Go On' proves Queen have staying power. One would assume 'Bohemian Rhapsody' would send concert goers home in a state of elated bliss, however their most familiar single was just a euphoric pre-cursor to a five song encore bookended by 'Ay-Oh' featuring a video by Mercury and pre-recorded tape of 'God Save the Queen' (fitting).
Two of the greatest rock anthems of all time 'We Will Rock You' and 'We Are the Champions' blanketed a reprise of 'Radio Ga-Ga' with Lambert inviting the audience to sing along. With the arena rocking, concert goers made their way to the exits fully blown away by the majesty, as well as the pomp and circumstance that is Queen + Adam Lambert.
In his prime, Lambert's voice is fluid. He's known for his full-control three-octave vocal range, expert vibrato, and falsetto which often allows him to stretch to a fifth octave. Brian May is regarded as one of the best axe-men to ever thrash a guitar, with Roger Taylor a well received and decorated drummer. Given Queen's arsenal of hits the audience was made up of baby boomers with the band's musicianship and Lambert's mass appeal bringing the 40 and under crowd out. Nevertheless all 20K attendees were subject to one of the greatest song catalogs in rock n' roll history.
The overall beauty of seeing Queen + Adam Lambert is the legacy of the band and their iconic songs. Those two assets aside, their concert has it all. An electric stage, incredible laser light show, larger than life props, trap doors, falling leaves, oversized video screens, and animation that puts Disney to shame. The spectacular included several tributes to Freddie, May's fire shooting guitar, and Lambert's extravagant wardrobe, ranging from sharp dressed sequined man to starship commander. While other legendary bands are scaling back, Queen is going full tilt.
Again, while May and Taylor are the heart and soul of Queen's history, Adam Lambert suffers from a remarkable case of LSD (Lead Singer Desirability). Although Lambert personifies the spirit of Freddie Mercury, he is his own man, and it's hard to imagine any other performer fronting one of rock n' roll's most iconic bands. Much like Mercury, Lambert commands attention and is charismatic.
Encyclopedias and dictionaries define 'rhapsody' as a continual episodic expression of music with equal hints of inspiration and improvisation. That interpretation is a perfect portrayal of a Queen + Adam Lambert musical concert performance.
Queen's Atlanta stop is part of a 23 city fall Rhapsody Tour that runs through November. While they appear to be in good health, with May and Taylor both in the mid 70's it's hard to imagine how much longer Queen will be out on the road. If you're a fan, and quite frankly who isn't, than I urge you to see them while you can. Queen is more than a concert, it's a theatrical entertainment experience.