Queen + Adam Lambert Breathe New Life in Some of Rock’s Most Classic Songs
On the very same week that 32 years earlier, Queen turned in an unforgettable performance at Live Aid, the band moved into the Twin Cities on its 2017 world tour, with a different dynamic lead singer out front, delivering yet another memorable night of one of rock's most dynamic song catalogs.
One thing is certain; Queen will never be the same band after the death of lead singer Freddie Mercury in 1991, and the retirement of bassist John Deacon in 1997. But since 2011, they've found a singer with the vocal talent and stage presence who doesn't replace Mercury, but is the closest thing to duplicating the same qualities Mercury embodied during his 20 years fronting one of the most innovative and successful groups in music history.
Adam Lambert first rose to prominence in the United States in 2009, during Season Nine of American Idol. Knowing what we know now, is it any surprise that one of the songs he chose to audition for the show was Queen's iconic 1975 song 'Bohemian Rhapsody'?
Throughout the season, Lambert set himself apart from the other competitors, both in the way he sounded, with an unbelievable vocal range, and in the way he looked, edgy, modern, and just a bit dangerous.
Lambert eventually lost to Kris Allen in Idol's finale that year, but you just knew, like Jennifer Hudson and Chris Daughtry before him, he was going to make it big, despite not winning the show.
But unlike Journey, who plucked Arnel Pineda out of relative obscurity to replace Steve Perry, Lambert was already an established star when his path crossed with Queen six years ago.
By that time, Lambert had already released a Top Ten album, For Your Entertainment, and had also put two songs on the Top 40 chart, including 'Whataya Want From Me', which hit #10, earning him a Grammy nomination in 2011.
Over the years, Lambert's collaborations with Queen have continued to grow. First with a one-off show at MTV Europe Music Awards in 2011, then for a six-date run in 2012, followed by a full-blown world tour of more than 60 dates in 2014 and 2015.
Now in 2017, Lambert is back fronting the group, which features original guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor. The 12th stop on the tour was Friday (July 14) at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.
From the very beginning it was obvious that Lambert, May, and Taylor were going to share the stage with one of the most iconic characters from Queen's past - the robot from the cover of their 1977 album News of the World.
The giant creature, a creation of American sci-fi artist Frank Kelly Freas, was the first image the crowd laid eyes on that night, as it was splashed across the high definition video board that served as a curtain in front of the stage before the concert began.
It was a special moment for longtime fans of the band. I can vividly remember being 14 when the album was released, and cranking up the volume on 'We Will Rock You', 'Sheer Heart Attack', and 'It's Late', for hours on end.
The image of the robot also adorned the front of Taylor's drum kit throughout the show.
It made another appearance later in the evening, when its head, complete with video eyeballs, emerged from the stage with Lambert perched on top, belting out 'Killer Queen'.
The stage magic didn't end there. Lambert later rode a bike around the stage while singing the classic 'Bicycle Race'.
It was that kind of night. A near complete rundown of the band's biggest hits (minus 'Tie Your Mother Down', 'You're My Best Friend', and 'Play the Game'), plus a few very poignant moments when the unmistakable vocals of Freddie Mercury came to life on the big screen, with the sing-a longs he would routinely run audiences through, and a duet of sorts with Lambert on the closing lines of 'We Are The Champions' to end the show.
Along the way, the setlist included a couple of deeper cuts, including 'Get Down, Make Love' from News of the World in 1977, and Roger Taylor's 'I'm In Love With My Car' from A Night at the Opera in 1975.
Lambert even worked in one of his new songs, 'Two Fux', which he introduced as a response to the haters who say he has no place singing Queen's music. He reminded the crowd that he, like the rest of us, is a huge fan of the band and is so appreciative of the opportunity to keep Queen's music alive, in a concert setting, for fans, old and new, to enjoy.
If you stayed away from seeing this tour, because in your mind no one can replace Mercury, I implore you to reconsider.
Queen has once again done the remarkable - take songs that are 30 and 40 years old, and make them sound as current as ever, thanks a modern day vocal genius up front.
St. Paul Setlist:
- 'We Will Rock You' (intro)
- 'Hammer to Fall'
- 'Stone Cold Crazy'
- 'Another One Bites the Dust'
- 'Fat Bottomed Girls'
- 'Killer Queen'
- 'Two Fux' (Adam Lambert song)
- 'Don't Stop Me Now'
- 'Bicycle Race'
- 'I'm In Love With My Car'
- 'Get Down, Make Love'
- 'I Want It All'
- 'Love of My Life'
- 'Somebody to Love'
- 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love'
- 'Under Pressure'
- 'I Want to Break Free'
- 'Who Wants to Live Forever'
- 'Radio Gaga'
- 'Bohemian Rhapsody'
- 'We Will Rock You'
- 'We Are The Champions'