Adam Lambert promises Scottish fans storming set as Queen announced for TRNSMT festival
It’ll be Radio GLA GLA on the Green as American Idol star returns with rock legends in July.
This year’s TRNSMT festival was already looking spectacular but it’s now absolutely unmissable with the addition of one final headline act – Queen and Adam Lambert.
Founding members of Queen Brian May and Roger Taylor have found a new lease of life since they started working with the young American Idol star, as anyone who caught their immense show at the SSE Hydro in 2015 will attest.
Adam, 36, loved that gig as much as any of the fans, so it’s no surprise he’s keen to play here again – this time at TRNSMT.
He said: “I’m so excited to come back to Glasgow .
“That last time we played at the Hydro was insane. People were going crazy. It’s famously a great place to play as Scottish fans are so boisterous and responsive.
“There are certain areas of the world where the audiences tend to be more rowdy and Glasgow is right up there.
“It was so much fun last time so to come back and play an outdoor festival in the middle of the city is going to be crazy.
“Hopefully someone will pass me up a drink from the crowd. I’m going to need it.”
Adam has been performing with Queen for five years, but it all came about purely by chance, on the back of his ostentatious choice of audition song for the 2009 series of American Idol.
He said: “I auditioned by doing Bohemian Rhapsody, which was a very lucky decision, as Brian and Roger saw it.
“They then ended up being invited to perform on the final, which was the first time we performed together.
“It felt really good and was a nice fit. We stayed in touch and after I had toured my first album they invited me to do the MTV VMAs with them and the rest is history.
“We just started doing odd shows here and there and it evolved into a full-fledged tour.”
Crucially, Adam isn’t trying to replace or copy legendary Queen front man Freddie Mercury.
Instead, he does his own thing while paying tribute to the great man. They are possibly the biggest shoes in music to step into – but Adam has been up to the task.
He said: “I have quite the footwear collection as I literally do have big shoes to fill. When I was first asked to perform with them I was intimidated by that to be honest.
“I’m a huge fan of Freddie and he has such a legacy, it’s a big deal. I wasn’t sure if the fans would ever accept it, or even if the band would be happy.
“Just keeping that balance between staying true to myself and honouring Freddie and those original, amazing recordings. It was a real mental exercise to figure it out.”
The one thing he knew not to do was just impersonate Freddie, either vocally or with his mannerisms. But finding his own groove didn’t come immediately either.
Adam said: “It was super important I didn’t do that, but it also came with time.
“I never even attempted to impersonate him, but at the beginning I was a little more tentative with the liberties I was taking.
“Now, five years later, those songs are in my body much more, plus I’m so much more comfortable with Brian and Roger.
“Now I’m at a point where it’s second nature, it’s so fun. It means getting onstage doesn’t have to be an exercise in thinking or trying too hard to craft it. It just comes out, which is the way it should be. It’s very natural. I think the audience feel that too.
“The way I did it was to focus on the song itself as opposed to the recording of the song, which is how I first heard them the same as everyone else.
“So the challenge to make it my own was to stop listening to the recordings and really listen to the words and the notes.
“I had the band’s pianist record me the songs so I had something to rehearse to and I just started working on it.
“Just me and the piano tape, which allowed me to find my own phrasing, my own flourishes and so on. Emotionally too, it allowed me to find the story.
“That’s why these songs are so powerful as they really connect with people, which Freddie was so good at.
“So I sat down with his songs, with Brian’s, Roger’s and John’s (original bassist John Deacon) and tried to do them justice.”
It wasn’t easy stepping into such a huge and beloved band.
But Adam feels that he’s done enough now to prove himself, even to the most hard core fans.
He said: “That was the thing I was concerned about the most, but I think I did it just by working my ass off up there.
“I sing with everything I’ve got and I try to put as much passion into it as I can, which I think the audience can see. I think I’ve earned the right to be there now.”
The real turning point, at least in this country, was his televised performance on live TV at Hogmanay 2014. It was such a barnstorming show that the next day, the most Googled term in the UK was “Adam Lambert”.
Adam said: “I’m not a household name in the UK, but the next day I definitely came closer to being one. It was very exciting and a very triumphant night for us.
“The next day I was walking from my hotel to meet a friend and it was really quiet on the street, but I got spotted about three times.
“I was wrapped up with a hat and glasses too. That was when I knew that something had changed.”
This upcoming Queen and Adam Lambert tour will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the classic News Of The World album, the one that featured hits such as We Are The Champions and We Will Rock You.
They’re huge, anthemic tracks but Adam insists it’s the human side of Queen’s music that makes it so appealing.
He said: “Freddie’s performance on those songs is iconic, alongside Roger, Brian and John’s playing. They’re all incredible at what they do on those records, but it’s also the spirit of those songs really embody the universal human experience so well.
“Other bands of the 70s and 80s were all singing about getting wasted and being rock stars, but while there’s an element of posturing in Queen’s music, it does it in an inclusive ‘everyone’s invited to the party’ way.
“It was almost like an early premiere of empowerment pop. They made people feel strong and confident.
“They made them proud and unified. Queen very early on had people sing together with them at concerts, which was actually
quite unusual back then, but Freddie really encouraged that as he wanted that connection between the audience and the band.”
Of course, there’s more to Adam Lambert than singing with Queen. His own songs now have a place in their setlist and he is currently putting the finishing touches to his fourth album – which he’s convinced is going to be his best yet.
He said: “One of my songs was in the set for the summer tour. But we’ve replaced it with What Do You Want? – another one of my songs. It’s really exciting that they’ve been open to performing one of my originals.
“It came up very naturally as we hadn’t mentioned it to each other. We put Ghost Town in the set for Rock In Rio and Roger just suggested we make it a thing.
“Since then it’s been something that’s been on the table, so it’s very flattering and an honour to have them play one of my songs.
“I’ve been working on my fourth album for a while now, but have been on tour for the past year.
“It’s an interesting juggling act being on the road then coming home and writing songs, but I really appreciate it, as it’s allowed me to step away from the project and come back with fresh ears.
“Being out doing those big arena shows gives you a point of view that you wouldn’t get in a studio, so it’s been very helpful.
“I can come back and consider what’s working, what I like, what feels authentic or I think will connect with people.
“I’m really excited about it though and I think the fans will be too, as it’s a turning point for me.
“It’s a lot more organic than I’ve done before and explores a lot more deeper emotions than anyone has heard me do before.
“I think people are going to really enjoy it.”
Queen and Adam Lambert play TRNSMT festival at Glasgow Green on Friday July 6.