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Review: Queen & Adam Lambert retain rock royalty status

They are the champions. 

Image source: 
Andrew Friend

“I know what some of you may be thinking,” Adam Lambert proclaimed to the sold-out Rod Laver Arena. “I’m just going to call it out: ‘He’s no Freddie.’”

He’s right of course. Going into the show, that was the murmur around the block. What is Queen without Freddie?

“No shit,” retorted Lambert to his own statement. “Because there will only be one rock god named Freddie Mercury."

This exchange came seven songs into the epic, two-and-a-half hour set. Lambert addressed the crowd with his flamboyant charisma, all flawless makeup and theatrical flair, and won over the entire crowd, making way for one of the best concerts of the year thus far.

It came as such a relief, breaking down a barrier between feeling more like a karaoke session than a performance by one of the biggest bands in the world.

Though Lambert is a star in his own right, Brian May, 68, and Roger Taylor, 70, were heroes on display to be adored. May’s guitar was flawless and Taylor’s drumming and vocals were joyful.

The sprawling evening gave the originals plenty of opportunities to demonstrate that they well and truly still have it. Punctuated with guitar solos, a drum battle, and frequent appearances from their mascot robot Frank – who first appeared on the cover of their 1977 album News of the World – the set left nothing to be desired.

The guitar-shaped stage was lit up in spectacular fashion, utilising all that Rod Laver could possibly offer. The video imagery was masterful, with emotional tributes to Freddie Mercury dotted throughout the show, videos of him singing playing alongside the band. The touching tribute hit most beautifully during the evening’s highlight – May’s beautiful acoustic rendition of ‘Love of my Life’. With tears in my eyes, it’s a musical moment I won’t soon forget.

Lambert’s voice is stunning. Truly flawless in its strength, clarity, and emotional capacity. I honestly couldn’t think of a vocalist other than Freddie that I’d want fronting the band, worlds away from my apprehension coming into it.

‘Who Wants to Live Forever’ and ‘Radio Ga Ga' were undoubted highlights rounding out the end of the show before an encore ofWe Will Rock You’ and ‘We are the Champions’. ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, ‘Under Pressure’, and ‘A Kind of Magic’ were among some of the best I’ve seen.

Queen without Freddie is different, of course, but it’s in good hands with Lambert. I never got to see the original Queen intact, but I rest easy knowing I saw the next best thing.

The three walked away, arms around each other, before taking a bow, kings of Queen, worshipped by their people. In Lambert’s own words, they’re rock’n’roll royalty, literally.

Highlight: Leaving the show with one of my best friends having just shared one of the best nights of our lives.

Lowlight: Pretty shitty mass exile during Adam Lambert’s one solo moment singing ‘What Do You Want from Me’. After sacrificing his own musical identity for much of the show, he deserved more.

Crowd favourite: Brian May was treated like a god.