It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen Queen. The last time was September 15th, 1982 at the Fabulous Forum to be exact, and the lead singer was a cat named Freddie Mercury. A lot has happened since then – with the obvious being the unfortunate passing of the legendary Mercury – but many fans were curious and eager to see Queen 2.0 at BMO Stadium.
This would prove to be an interesting night to say the least. The drive to get in was heavier than normal due to a fire at the 10 freeway that set everything back, 45 minutes to be exact. By the time everyone rolled in, the entire stadium was filled with an anticipation that was palpable.
Set throughout BMO were fan of all ages, nationalities, and fashion sense. There were definitely some retro outfits that looked great and appropriate for the show, and some… maybe not such a good idea. I was surrounded by fans that came from all parts of the state, and some from across the country. All had their own reasons for traversing the traffic or airports, but everyone had one thing in common – we all had a love for the band’s music.
Despite the L.A. traffic induced delay, the crowd was ready to take in the Rhapsody Tour. In a blink of an eye, the lights dimmed, and the enormous video program took over the stage covered by kick-ass robots invading the backstage; the cheer of the crowd was like a 747 taking off from LAX.
As the silhouettes of the band took the stage, the drum beat took over the stadium; opening with their latest techno-inspired masterpiece, “Machines (Or ‘Back to Humans’)” which segued seamlessly into a song the crowd knew all the words to – “Radio Ga Ga!”
Out came Adam Lambert, with an incredible voice, his over-the-top outfit and makeup was stunning.
Before the crowd had a moment to breathe, the bassline took over the stadium and we were off to “Another One Bites the Dust” then to “I’m in Love with My Car.”
With a five-second pause between songs, Lambert re-emerged with a ska-styled Who-like motorcycle to bicycle bells being featured. The faithful knew exactly what that meant; we were all off to the “Bicycle Race” (Off the Jazz Album) followed by “Fat Bottomed Girls.”
By then, the band was hitting all cylinders, and Brian May strolled across the front of the stage as fans cheered him on as “I Want It All” was front and center.
As Lambert engaged with the crowd, one thing became evidently clear; this was not the same band I saw so many years ago. It was not Queen as I knew it with Mercury behind the mic, and maybe that was the point. Lambert did a masterful job in sticking to the band’s legacy and delivery of the music. But Lambert was Lambert; he delivered his performance with his own unique musical prowess, and his onstage persona was his own. In fact, there were parts that would have even made Mercury blush. I think that was the bigger point; this was Queen, but with Adam Lambert, and it worked.
With another burst of energy, Lambert rolled into the next set of mega-hits, “A Kind of Magic,” “Killer Queen,” “Don’t Stop Me Now,” and “Somebody to Love,” which had an enormous response as Lambert hit the last note of this epic song.
With a gaze into the crowd from the front of the stage as he was sporting that Billy Idol-esque whiplash smile, Lambert crooned to the crowd “Love of My Life,” (off A Night at the Opera); it was one of many jaw-dropping moments.
Lambert then gave way to the sights and sounds of the band, with a few solos, and the crowd erupted to “Under Pressure.”
With an animated Brian May, and energetic Roger Taylor behind the drum kit, “Tie Your Mother Down” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” were the next hits Lambert and company belted out for their legion of fans.
“Who Wants to Live Forever” was delivered in the closest Mercury styling of the night, while the crowd stood in awe.
May’s guitar solo was also a show stopper. Taylor was a force, Spike Edney was brilliant on keys, Neil Fairclough was red hot slapping the bass like Flea, and Tyler Warren brought it home with the additional percussion.
As the number of hits was adding up, the end of the show was near, and the crowd was amped for the closing tunes, “Is This the World We Created…?,” “The Show Must Go On,” and then they perfectly slid into the closer, “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
You would think we were in Vegas, because the closing light show and exit was a scene even Caesars or the MGM would have been impressed by. With the cheer that was made for an ovation, the echo overtook BMO: “Ay-Oh!”
With remarkable voice command and stage presence, Lambert effortlessly led the crowd into “We Will Rock You,” then a reprise of “Radio Ga Ga,” slipping into “We Are the Champions,” (Off News of the World). The ease in which the music moved from one song to another was reminiscent of the Queen we all grew up listening to and falling in love with.
With the power their music commands, Queen did what Queen does – they ended with a larger-than-life performance with two larger-than-life songs: “God Save the Queen” and a cover of Bowie’s “Heroes.”
Wow, wow, and wow! I did not know what to expect, and maybe that was a good thing.
Not knowing if this iteration of the band would fall them to being victims of their own success. But the performance paid homage to the band’s legacy perfectly by being Queen 2.0 with Adam Lambert.