Review by Vicky Sullivan for The Sarasota Post. It was fate that Adam Lambert auditioned for American Idol with the Queen masterpiece “Bohemian Rhapsody” and then that Queen played the Idol finale with Adam. It sparked Queen’s Brian May to think about Adam as a possible lead singer for Queen.
A tough role to fill, to sing the songs of rock legend, Freddie Mercury. Lambert has both the pipes and the flamboyance to pay tribute to Mercury and his music with respect and his own style. Lambert has been doing it since 2011! After a year of Queen everywhere in 2018, with the hit movie “Bohemian Rhapsody”, the music and the legend are as big as ever! Queen decided to embark on a world tour with their biggest road show yet!
Having seen the 2017 tour and the Vegas residency, Queen has totally amped up this tour and brought it to another level! More state of the art, the stage sets and lighting are amazing. Bigger video screens and graphics make it a better experience for the entire sold-out arena of over 20,000. A graphic of a crown covers the stage. As the show starts, the crown lifts to display an image of Queen’s guitarist Brian May and then the real Queen and Adam Lambert emerges to “Now I’m Here”! Adam Lambert is in full, spectacular voice! Roger Taylor perched above the crowd on his drum kit and Brian May walks the catwalk on his guitar. Queen is here and bringing one of the biggest tours of the summer!
The Tampa audience is ready for a full night of Queen music! From entire families to diehard Queen fans from the 70’s, everyone is represented! Lambert explains he is here to pay tribute to Freddie Mercury and not imitate. Adam has his own fan base from his Idol days and solo music. “Hammer to Fall’ and “Killer Queen” are next up. Roger Taylor moves to the end of the catwalk along with May and Lambert. Adam seems to be channeling Elvis with “A Crazy Little Thing Called Love” They perform the Bowie/Queen classic “Under Pressure” with bass player Neil Farclough coming to the catwalk to play the famous bass line. Percussionist Tyler Warren does duty in tandem with Roger Taylor never leaving his stage post. Another striking moment in the show is “Who Wants to Live Forever” with Adam giving a hauntingly beautiful vocal run to one of Queen’s most serious musical renderings. Freddie Mercury’s spirit seems to be surrounding all that is happening. Queen honors him throughout the show with video appearances but he is there in all the music.
Brian May’s guitar solo is an incredible mix of spectacle, space and guitar prowess. People were jumping out of their seats to take photos of the planets spinning around Brian. Technology and music make for an amazing performance you will see nowhere else! “Show Must Go On” a Freddie tune that puts Lambert to the task of his vocal pipes and drama filled lyrics. This all seems second nature to Lambert, who Simon Cowell called “theatrical” all those years ago. Two of the audience clear favorites, “Fat Bottomed Girls” and “Radio Gaga” had everyone out of their seats! By now everyone has seen the famous “Live Aid” performance and knows exactly where and how to clap. Keyboard player Spike Edney has been with the band since before the Live Aid performance, played Live Aid with the band and is really an unofficial member of Queen.
This brings us to that masterpiece “Bohemian Rhapsody” that Freddie never imagined would become the title of a movie in 2018! Back in 1975, the band’s big problem was getting radio to play a 6-minute song. It is now the most streamed song in the 20th century and the original video has over a BILLION views on YouTube. Freddie is paid tribute during the extravaganza as well as original bassist John Deacon, who retired. Adam, Brian, Roger along with the audience show their love for this iconic musical wonder.
The encore brings the anthems “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions” complete with costumes, crowns and confetti! As Brian May said, “I can’t believe we are still here, I never imagined any of this!” None of us did, except one has to wonder if Freddie has been watching it all with a smile. Sure would like to think so….
Photos by Vicky Sullivan / The Sarasota Post