Adam Lambert says it’s still surreal to be performing with Queen. “I’ll run into friends and they’re like, ‘This is so weird, dude, You’re, like, in Queen.’”
Adam Lambert used to sing on cruise ships and small theater productions.
And then he auditioned for “American Idol.” By the end of that season, he had placed second, become a pop sensation and performed with members of Queen.
It led to a successful solo career as well as several festival and arena tours fronting Queen alongside original members Brian May and Roger Taylor.
Before Queen + Adam Lambert landed in Omaha on Saturday, we caught up with Lambert about the tour, his solo career, connecting with huge audiences and stepping into iconic frontman Freddie Mercury’s shoes.
Q. So what is it like standing behind the stage, ready to step out and front Queen? Do you think at all about how Freddie Mercury would do it?
A. When we first started working together, I was very intimidated by that idea. Immediately when this came together, I was honored. It was an opportunity I was never gonna pass up.
But it was scary. I mean, Freddie.
Over the past five years, we’ve seen that it worked and the audience loved it, and we’ve grown more connected as a band. We have a lot of fun together.
The music itself has gotten into my body like it is in their bodies.
Q. So you’re more comfortable with that now? You kind of got thrown into playing with the band right away.
A. The first show that we did was in the Ukraine. It was for like a quarter of a million people. It was huge. I had nine days of rehearsal to prep for that. It was a lot to wrap your head around. But I like being challenged as an artist. I think it was good for me and it taught me a lot and it has continued to.
Q. How do you stay true to the original while making it your own thing?
A. It’s a really interesting process. I don’t try to overthink it. And I don’t try to imitate Freddie. That would be a cop out. I also try not to take it too far from the original either. That would be sort of sacrilegious. It’s also a case of taking a second of thinking of what the intention of the song was. Why was it written? What was the story behind it?
When I get that story behind each song, I know what I want to get out of it.
Q. Is it still a little surreal to be onstage with Queen?
A. We’ll do a certain song and I don’t know. The connection with each other and the audience all at once. There’s quite an energy that can happen. It’s hard to predict when it’s gonna hit me. Oh my god, this is crazy. This is my life.
I’ll run into friends and they’re like, “This is so weird, dude. You’re, like, in Queen.”
Q. What’s it like doing this tour compared to your solo tours? It’s obviously on a different scale.
A. The budgets are slightly different. (laughs) Yeah, it’s fun. It’s a huge show. We’re selling out everywhere. It’s a success.
I was lucky enough to sell out my dates on my solo tour, but they were much smaller.
I think it’s gonna be really fun. I think audiences are gonna love the show. If you saw us the first time around, don’t let that be a deterrent to coming back. It’s gonna feel different.
I’m gonna have new outfits. That’s arguably the most important part. (laughs) I love putting a new outfit together. I’m like a kid on Halloween.
Q. How is what you’re doing with Queen different from what you’re doing on your own? Generally speaking, I don’t think the pop landscape is as open as it was.
A. Everyone would agree with that. That’s the thing about top 40 and pop music. It’s always evolving and changing. One of the things I’m noticing and I love is that anything goes stylistically. A lot of different genres are being explored.
The underlying similarity is … a good song being a good song. That’s why theirs has stood the test of time. It’s got heart, it’s got great melody and it’s performed with passion. Those things will never go out of style. People always respond to those three ingredients.
Q. So how about you? Do you have any new music coming?
A. I’ve been working on stuff for the past six months. I have some great songs. I don’t actually know yet when I’m going to unveil them. It’s been great to be working on my own stuff during this hiatus. It’s been good. I’m excited to. I never like to repeat myself. It’s definitely a different sound from my last project. I’m excited to be doing something different.
Queen + Adam Lambert
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: CenturyLink Center Omaha, 555 N. 10th St.
Tickets: $29.50 to $139.50 via Ticketmaster
Information: centurylinkcenteromaha.com or 402-341-1500