Usually, I’d write a short introduction before my reviews. A little background of my history with the band. But to do this for Queen would be impossible, for they need no introduction. But for the sake of regularity, I’ll give you a little something. When I first heard that Queen had recruited Adam Lambert, an American Idol contestant back in 2012 to perform at Sonisphere Festival, I was confused. Where did this little known talent show popstar come into things, and how was he being assosciated with one of the greatest bands ever created? I had been aware of his performance with them at an award show in 2011, but passed it off as a once in a lifetime sort of show. Like so many others, I was concerned. But then I found footage of the award show. Lambert was a triumph, giving just enough of his own flare to preceedings that his tribute stayed totally honest and sincere. Imagine my disappointment, then, when Sonisphere was cancelled due to low ticket sales. Ever since that year, I’ve been dying to see Queen & Adam Lambert perform in the UK once again. So, I headed out on this freezing cold January night to finally get my wish at the O2 Arena, London. Did Adam Lambert live up to my expectations? Was there be a single song I didn’t know? Read on…
In a way, the experience began even before I hit the O2. Outside, huge banners adorned with the band’s logo were everywhere. One in particular outside the tube station had hundreds of fans taking pictures, and the atmosphere was palpable. It was obvious this was a very, very special evening and everyone there was just as excited as the next.
There was no support tonight, but Queen didn’t need it. Backed by a massive screen and flanked by ones similar, the stage was adorned with staircases and a seperate stage in the crowd utilised later on in the set. As the curtain dropped to a phenominal One Vision, it was clear the O2 was in for a treat. A set one could only imagine, with every hit you can think of, which in Queen’s case, is a hell of a lot of golden material. Everything from seminal classics such as Radio Gaga and We Will Rock You to Seven Seas of Rhye and Stone Cold Crazy. If there was one thing I didn’t expect from the night, it was 27 songs! A showing that puts most younger, modern bands to shame.
Adam Lambert hit the ground running, winning over the 20,000 awe struck crowd instantaneously. His talent is remarkable, and he has the best stage presence I’ve ever seen, channeling Freddie Mercury in a truly inspiring tribute to the bands past frontman. Lambert succeeds in carrying Mercury’s songs in a celebration of the hits we were treated to tonight, and I sincerely hope he continues to do so far into the future.
The inclusions of several lengthy solos was a very mixed bag. Whilst Roger Taylor and his son locking heads in an intense drum battle was exciting and a lot of fun, Brian May’s lengthy guitar solo grew tedious as it limped along.
Brian May and Roger Taylor were also, of course, on absolute top form. With both original members performing in several capacities throughtout the night, we were treated to vocals from both, and two or three acoustic renditions played from the smaller stage amongst the crowd. While these felt incredibly special, I can’t help but feel they brought the room’s energy down somewhat, with several around me leaving for the bar. Above it all, however, was how clearly the band wanted to be there. There was no hint of a phoned in, cash-grabbing show here. No, this performance was full of love and affection for one man, and it stood out immensely.
Mentions of the semninal singer were peppered throughout the night, going so far as to even have him performing parts of a few songs, such as Bohemian Rhapsody and Love Of My Life. At times, it became incredibly emotional for both the crowd and the men performing on stage, and it was a feeling that won’t soon be forgotten. Another thing Lambert brought to the table tonight was a high degree of acceptance. It was incredibly inspirational to see so many people in shocked appreciation of a stage show so overtly sexual, something I’m sure Mercury would have been proud to see. The inclusion of many a crotch grab and even a purple longue seatee, the show was deliciously camp and all the more unique and captivating from it. I can tell you this much, it made a change from being screamed at in a dingy club somewhere in London!
As the band returned for the encore, a rousing We Will Rock You followed by We Are The Champions, I felt elated. I took a minute to reflect on what I’d just witnessed, probably never to again. I’ve seen a lot of bands in my life, but I don’t think many will ever come close to this night. Queen + Adam Lambert at the O2 Arena truly was a once in a lifetime experience, and I feel privelledged to have seen such an important group of musicians at the top of their game. No doubt, this was Queen.