Queen and Adam Lambert @ London SSE Arena Wembley (December 15th 2017)
I’m a big Queen fan. Have been since I was a little kid. Growing up the house was always filled with Freddie’s voice whether it was played by my elder brothers or parents. Queen always did appeal to a wide range of age groups and the makeup of tonight’s crowd showed that was still very much the case. Indeed men and women of all ages where here at London’s Wembley Arena. The band’s music has meant so much to me over the years and seeing May and Taylor live is always a thrill. Now they sing with an American Idol runner up. Don’t be fooled though, this guy knows his stuff and damn can he sing. A Freddie tribute act he is not although he certainly tips his (leather) hat in the great moustached ones direction.
We had started queuing at 3.45pm. Fellow Queen nut Mark would have queued earlier, Mrs Rock would rather have been in the pub, however our early arrival (well, relatively early..some had arrived 10 hours before us), served us well, as once inside the Arena we took our position next to the runway. This was going to be good.
As this is the 40th anniversary of the News of the World album the impressive stage set up leans heavily in that albums direction (with the updated Frank the robot centre of it all). The set list contains hit after hit but it is a slight shame that only the three songs are played from the NOTW LP. In truth though I’m just happy to hear Queen songs played live on stage. There are few real surprises song wise but then who cares. When a band has as many well-known songs as Queen do then they really shouldn’t be ashamed to play to the crowd.
Queen and Adam Lambert at London SSE Arena Wembley December 15th 2017 Brian May on Stage
They hit the stage seriously ready to rock sticking to the old adage of knocking em dead in the first few tracks. A speedy Rock You, Hammer To Fall, Stone Cold Crazy and Tie You Mother Down set their stall before Dust and Fat Bottomed Girls complete the opening salvo.
The set is slick the production even slicker. The wide range of songs in the Queen catalogue is usually more than one singer can take (see the Freddie Tribute in 1992) but Lambert is able to belt out Stone Cold Crazy and camp it up on Killer Queen and Bicycle Race with ease.
Taylor does take over on some songs (usually the ones he actually wrote) and as always his husky voice is great to hear. I’m In Love With My Car is still the go to Roger staple and he does’t disappoint.
There are a number of genuine ‘WOW’ moments such as Lambert note perfect on Somebody to Love and Who Wants to Live Forever or when Brian May gives a guitar masterclass during his solo. The latter given despite May not being 100% (proving rock stars get ill too). He still shows what a guitar hero he is and even manages to get through Love of My Life…albeit with the crowd singing most of it…which to be fair they normally do. There are so many highlights. The main revelation is what a band these guys make. This is not two artists shoved together but an actual well oiled, tight, touring machine.
The encore begins with video of Freddie singing his famous ‘Day-Ohs’ and it really is hard to not get a lump in the throat. The crowd sing back in full and the odd tear is undoubtedly shed. We Will Rock You and Champions finish the show (was there any doubt?) and then of course God Save the Queen plays as the band take the applause and Wembley cheers loudly. The show ends, we leave and although it is Bowie’s Heroes that plays over the tannoy, today was all about May, Taylor and Lambert. I really wish I had booked to go to more shows…darn it.
Adam Lambert is half the age of May and Taylor, this combination shouldn’t work…yet somehow it does. Lambert doesn’t have the rock pedigree and I for one was highly sceptical of what he could bring to Queen. Yet, as it turns out, he is a front man who not only looks the part but also possesses all the showman qualities needed. Most importantly of all he has one hell of a voice.
2 hours and 10 minutes of a truly magnificent live band doing justice to a sadly missed rock legend now 26 years passed.
Put any preconceptions to one side as these guys are a must see band.