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QUEEN + Adam Lambert: The Queen has found her King

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QUEEN + Adam Lambert is a triumph and a match made in heaven. In this blog entry, I look back at the four shows I had the joy to experience, some of the shows’ highlights (attention: spoilers), and I give a bit of context on this fan’s very personal experience of QUEEN + Adam Lambert. I also make a few wishes re: possible continuation of this magical collaboration…

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QUEEN fandom

Readers of this blog (if they’re out there?) will know that I am a life-long fan of QUEEN.

I still remember the moment I first became aware of this raw, exciting and dangerous music called “Rock”, as I heard “We Will Rock You” on the radio as a young boy in 1977.

My first rock concert was QUEEN at the Palais des Sports in Paris on 19 April 1982 (“Hot Space” tour). I subsequently saw QUEEN at Paris Bercy on 18 September 1984 (“The Works” tour), the Hippodrome de Vincennes on 14 June 1986 (“The Magic Tour”), then much later with Paul Rodgers in London (28 March 2005 at Brixton Academy and 11 May 2005 at Wembley Arena). I saw The Brian May Band at the Beacon Theatre in New York on 14 March 1993 and the QUEEN Extravaganza at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 6 November 2013.

I own a copy of every QUEEN album and most of Freddie, Brian and Roger’s solo works in one format or another.

As a teenager practicing the drums in my parents’ attic, I would play alongside my QUEEN cassette tapes over and over. And as an aspiring songwriter, Roger was a particularly strong inspiration and model, being not only a great rock drummer but also a great singer, songwriter and all-around musician.

Discovering Adam Lambert

I was sort of aware of Adam Lambert prior to his collaboration with QUEEN, I knew he had a great voice and some pretty good songs, but I wasn’t wowed immediately. I suppose I did not fit the “target demographic” and to be perfectly honest was not particularly attracted by the OTT campness. Like everyone else that saw it, I was impressed and excited by the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards performance, but nothing could have prepared me for the sheer awesomeness that is Adam Lambert live…

Adam has the voice, the technique, the range, the versatility – we knew he could do pop, but he can do rock just as well –, he has the handsome looks, the charisma, great chemistry with both the public and his band mates, he has the theatricality that QUEEN demands – to the point of acting out the songs – but not overly so, always keeping it a rock performance. He also shows humility, a graciousness and sense of humour that I think will endure him to even the most “purists” of QUEEN fans.

Adam Lambert is an exceptional performer and a perfect fit for QUEEN, bringing out a second youth in Brian and Roger, who are obviously enjoying every moment.

I am now proud to call myself a “Glambert” (never mind how ridiculous that sounds at my age!!!). I have discovered the first two albums, which are full of great songs, and look forward to the third album due out later this year. In hindsight, I can hear in those two albums many of the same elements found in QUEEN’s music. Given the May/Taylor treatment, songs like “Music Again”, “Soaked”, “Aftermath” or some of the more well-known hits would not be out of place on a QUEEN album.

London – Hammersmith Apollo, 12 July 2012

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I’ve seen many great concerts over the years – including the three with QUEEN and Freddie Mercury – but that show might just be the greatest concert experience of my life so far. Partly because I was front and centre, super-close to the stage and right in the heart of the action. Partly because that was my first experience of Adam Lambert live and I was completely blown away. Partly because it felt like – after all these years – QUEEN had fully regained its “magic”. Sure, QUEEN + Paul Rodgers was good, but this was something else: this was a band once again at the top of its game, delivering a show that was fresh and exciting and on par – dare I say even better? – than at the peak of its classic line-up period.

I remember “Dragon Attack” – and Adam’s red outfit – as an unexpected highlight of that show – as well as “Tie Your Mother Down”, one of the most exhilarating rock anthems ever.

Houston, TX – Toyota Center, 9 July 2014

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When the 40th Anniversary North American tour was announced, it wasn’t clear that a European tour would follow. This was going to be an expensive trip, but if I could afford it, I had to go.

What sealed the deal for me was that my other all-time favourite band – KISS – was also touring America (also for their 40th anniversary, and if I needed any more convincing, co-headlining with Def Leppard, another all-time great!). The tours intersected in Texas, and some other personal reasons made Houston a great choice: all the stars aligned, and my American Rock’n’Roll holiday became reality.

This was a chance to re-live the Hammersmith show, but now on a grand scale.

The set and performances were awesome. “Love Kills” – which would be dropped from the subsequent European set list – was that show’s unexpected highlight.

On a slightly down note, I felt that the audience was a bit too tame – perhaps due to the seating arrangement, perhaps because the American audience was less familiar with the songs. Still a great show.

London – The O2 Arena, 17 January 2015

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Home gigs are always special, and this was QUEEN making a triumphant return on its home turf. There was an excitement in the crowd that I had not felt at the Paul Rodgers shows, and a sense that this was a really special occasion and a date that would stay in the annals of QUEEN history.

The stage set had evolved since the American tour, with the huge Q-shaped rig coming down for a song, and Roger’s drum riser going up “KISS-style” for the finale. The set list had also evolved quite a bit, most notably with the “Procession/Now I’m Here” North American opening now replaced by “One Vision”, the addition of “Save Me” and the (shocking!) omission of “The Show Must Go On”.  "The problem with this band, as Adam noted at one point during the show, is they just have too many hits!!!"

The performances, sound and production were absolutely flawless. Two hours and twenty minutes of hit song after hit song. Everyone left with a huge smile on their faces. Notwithstanding a couple of – in my humble opinion – questionable set list decisions, this was a perfect show.

Paris – Le Zénith, 26 January 2015

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Le Zénith is a smaller 6,000-seater and this was the only tour date in France. Compare that with 6 dates in Germany – and I would venture that the French tour promoters did not rise to the occasion: QUEEN ought to be able to sell more than 6,000 tickets in the whole of France! The stage set also had to be scaled down for the smaller venue, and the Q-shaped rig had to be left out.

Nevertheless, this was another excellent show, and the smaller venue meant greater proximity between the public and the band: there was not a bad seat in the house.

This being my fourth show, I probably noticed some little details that most others did not. For example, I got the feeling that it took a couple of songs for the band and the sound mix to hit its stride. Which they quickly did, with Adam winning over the crowd almost immediately, and Brian scoring points with his very good French and some very funny banter (“le bâton de selfie”! aha!). 

At one point, Brian asked the public: “How do you like the new man?” This won Adam a very enthusiastic standing ovation – wholly deserved I might add.

The set list was tweaked again, with Roger leaving the drum kit for a great rendition of “A Kind of Magic” (in place of “Days of our Lives”), and “The Show Must Go On” added before “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Brian gave a beautiful and emotional rendition of classical French song “Plaisir d’amour” on the acoustic guitar, singing the first verse in English and the second in French. This was my “unexpected highlight” of the night…

Overall, the Paris date was smaller and with a less elaborate stage show, but had the best song selection and best pacing in my opinion. What a night!

Concert highlights

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QUEEN + Adam Lambert gave us so many great moments. Almost every song was a highlight.

Each of the four shows followed the same tried-and-true QUEEN formula of a “shock-and-awe” 3/4-song opener, followed by a succession of cool-downs and climaxes, with something new and exciting in each and every number. With “Fat Bottomed Girls” – only 20 minutes into the set – the show had already reached an intensity that only few other shows can reach in their final climax.

If I had to pick one highlight, it would have to be “Love of my Life”: Brian, his acoustic guitar and the public, singing as one, and joined at the end by the “ghost” of Freddie Mercury. This was a very beautiful and emotional moment, which brought a tear to my eye at every show. Brian was also visibly moved, and so must have been most of the audience.

The show achieved a very delicate balance between on the one hand nostalgia and paying respects to Freddie Mercury, and on the other hand moving the music forward and allowing the “new man” to breathe new life into the old classics. In my opinion, they got the balance just right.

The father-and-son drum-off featuring Roger and Rufus Tiger Taylor was another highlight for me. So was Roger and Adam’s duet on “Under Pressure”.

Adam’s star burned bright throughout, and particularly so on “Save Me” and it’s a-cappella opening, on “Somebody to Love”, “Killer Queen”, and as he summoned his inner-Elvis for “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”.

Each night, I got a kick out of seeing Adam return to the stage with a crown on his head for the “We Will Rock You / We Are the Champions” encore. The European crowds came in largely sceptic about this new young guy trying to “replace” Freddie Mercury. Each night, Adam Lambert had to prove himself and win over a new crowd. And win them he did. Each night, he fought, conquered, and won the right to wear that crown. Each night, we witnessed the crowning of a new king. That was a very powerful moment. Truly, the queen had found her king.

The future of QUEEN + Adam Lambert?...

Adam Lambert has a successful solo career and an upcoming album to promote, so nothing is sure… but QUEEN + Adam Lambert feels too right to end with this tour.

At the very least, there is bound to be a home video release of the concert, possibly a live album.

Dr. May being the 3D enthusiast that he is, why not a 3D concert movie? Think Metallica’s “Through the Never”: one of the greatest concert film ever – check it out! QUEEN has never done things in halves, and this is the level of quality they should go for in my opinion.

What if Adam’s new album included one track featuring Brian and Roger? Marketing-wise, this would be a great way to further bridge the two fan bases, and would benefit both parties.

Above all, I pray to the gods of Rock’n’Roll that Brian, Roger and Adam will create new original music together and at some point deliver a QUEEN + Adam Lambert studio album. Include Brian’s “Business” and Roger’s “I am the Drummer (in a Rock’n’Roll Band)” ‘cause those are great songs that deserve a bigger audience! Bring in someone like Max Martin as co-producer! Combine the timeless songwriting genius and musicianship of Brian and Roger with fresh production talent to deliver a chart-topping contemporary-sounding album of pop and heavy rock classics for the 21st century!

Somehow convince John Deacon to re-engage with the world and re-join the band! (we love you John!)

And then another world tour?… (I have some cool set design ideas…Brian: call me! ;-))

Adam Lambert could “do a Phil Collins” and dominate the next 10 years in pop, alternating solo and band albums and tours...

Let the QUEEN + Adam Lambert 2014/2015 world tour be the start of another awesome chapter in the story of QUEEN.

 

Do you love the music of QUEEN + Adam Lambert? Check out some of the songs they inspired me to create: here.

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Comments

  1. badassalterego

    Great, well-observed review and comments. I'm one of the long-time (very long-time!) Queen fans who has only discovered Adam Lambert in the last couple of months. I'd trusted the reviews and booked to see QAL before I saw the NYE performance on the BBC, which I thought was a knockout. But the live performance was something else. Adam Lambert has a voice you only hear once in a decade, if you're lucky - and he's got all the other ingredients that a "real" rock frontman needs. There really aren't enough superlatives and by the look of it, he has completely surpassed what other winners of shows like American Idol have done. How many others have won the ultimate prize of fronting one of the all-time supergroups! QAL were so good I'm going back for more at the end of the tour, and it would be such a thrill for the fans (old and new) if there was more to come from this collaboration.

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  2. fromthegreyfort

    Love every word of this - so well stated. But the remark about becoming a Glambert "at my age" tells me there is one aspect of Adam's fandom you weren't aware of. It encompasses ALL ages. At concerts I have met die hard Glamberts ranging from 10 to 84 years old. Trust me, you have lots of company in your own age bracket, not matter which one you fit into.

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  3. Susan Sporran

    What a beautiful and heartfelt blog. I was and still am thrilled by this collaboration and have most of the same wishes you do for the future. One little thing - the Q rig did move in the U.S. tour too. It came down during one song and Roger's platform rose up during another. I wasn't in Houston, but was fortunate to see them at 6 others, including the pinnacle (for me) Madison Square Garden where I was close enough to experience the Killer Queen champagne shower. Queen + Adam is a match made in heaven, maybe with a little assist from a guardian angel named Freddie.

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  4. Gerard

    I agree about Adam Lambert's solo music having a Queen feel to it - at least some of the tracks - and particularly on his first album. I would add Sure Fire Winners and possibly Masterplan to your list! Saw this Queen & Lambert collaboration in Australia. Was well and truly blown away, he was way better than expected. One of the best concerts of my life.

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  5. CelticMairin

    What an amazing partnership, they were made for each other. It was so obvious that they should team up when they appeared on the 2008 finale of American Idol together. I would love to have been a fly on the wall at some of the Brian/Roger discussions after that. If you think Queen + Adam Lambert are amazing then VOTE VOTE VOTE for them once an hour. Queen & Adam are nominated for the ?2014 Tour of the Year ? 4th Annual Ultimate Classic Rock? Awards http://ultimateclassicrock.com/tour-of-the-year-2014/?trackback=tsmclip QAL fans have been doing a great job of keeping them in top place. With only 5 more days of voting, please take the time to vote often.

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  6. Cathy Gallagher

    Hope you're on Facebook, SuperCoolGuy. I decided all the Adam- and fan-bashing was vile, and set up QAL FANS UNITED in retaliation. There's almost 3,300 members now - some Queenies, some Glamberts, all welcome. I attended a few of the same concerts - I'd never listened to Adam before 12/7/2012. God, I wanted to go again!!! At New Year's Eve and 17th January - just hope I can get to Wembley!

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  7. Cathym

    Aww...We Crown another Glambert! Seriously Love Your observations of the Tour ! I have been a fan of Adams since I first heard that beautiful voice...not long after that I realized he was a Star. No doubt my childhood Rock stars Queen hooking up with Adam has become a match made in Heaven for me! I so agree This Collaboration Must Continue. ! Both Fandoms Can Have It All !

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  8. Ida Claypool

    Thank you for a fantastic blog. I'm a Adam addict from day 1 on Idol. Have to get my Adam fix every day. If nothing new, I look at anything Adam on the computer. I don't care for anything 3D. My favorite wish is for good quality videos. Sound is great but sight is much better, especially when it comes to Adam Lambert. I think the New Years Eve video must be about worn out, if possible. We're promised a DVD of one of the concerts (Manchester?) in about five months, Adam's single and Adam's album. I'm praying for more concert DVD's. That shouldn't take much work, as they're perfect the way they are . There are cameras all over the place at every show. Brian and Roger each have a video camera trained on them constantly. Brian has mentioned possible recording may be done after they finish the tour. How could they not want to film their Gift From God?

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  9. queenrosered

    SuperCoolGuy? Your name suits you! Loved everything you opined and would like to tell you that in late 2009, when Adam Lambert's first album dropped, I had purchased the CD online from amazon dot com.On Amazon, as I'm sure you're aware, there are discussions below each item and being a social internet neophyte at the time, like a fool, I rushed in where "angels fear to tread" and made a new thread of my own in the rock threads, proclaiming "Adam Lambert is the New Rock God"...I was quickly and thoroughly lambasted and run out of town on a rail, as you may imagine, haha! Such awful, hateful, spiteful comments from people professing to be grown men! They said the meanest most vile things about Lambert and told me in no uncertain terms, what an idiot I was to believe that "this pop tart" would EVER be a "rock singer", much less a rock GOD! I do believe I am having the last laugh... Thanks so much for this awesome and thoughtful review!

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  10. beaglewoman

    Thank you for appreciating Adam the way that us long-time Glamberts do. Seeing Adam live is like looking into the sun and its hard for someone who has not seen him live to explain. There are few out there who almost sound better live than on an album but AL is one for sure. And this partnership is a match made in heaven and I can virtually guarantee that Freddy is a Glambert too!

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  11. Pam Wilson

    Great review! Just wanted to say, I'm from Texas and was also at the Houston concert, as well as the Dallas concert. The Houston show was great, but the Dallas show as FANTASTIC, and it was all due to the response of the audience. The crowd in Dallas was much more into it than the Houston one and it made for a wonderful show. Thanks again for your review and welcome to the Glamily!!!

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  12. May I say I absolutely adore you! As a long-time Queen fan AND Adam Lambert fan since he first appeared on American Idol, I so appreciate your comments here.. And I certainly agree with your comments about Adam: One can never completely and appreciate understand his rare and wonderful voice and talent until he is seen and heard LIVE.... Videos and TV are a great intro: they ease you into the fandom and give you a hint of what you will ultimately experience seeing him LIVE! Whether in an intimate setting of 150 with him singing "acoustic" only with a guitar, his voice allowed to be front and center, or in a small venue of 1200, or an arena full of 20,000, he is a master vocalist.. I have to admit I've seen him live *many* times (and in those settings I just mentioned) and am always ready for the next opportunity and so am looking forward to his own new music coming soon.. And having met him, I can say he is truly a lovely human being as well.. I alluded to being a fan of Queen for some time, but sadly had never seen them live.. So when the opportunity came up to see them with Adam Lambert, in the US at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas in 2013, I jumped at the chance, because at that time we didn't know if they would EVER tour the US.. It was absolute magic, a match made in heaven, as Dr. Brian May is fond of saying "Adam is a Gift From God".. and I have to say I agree! And when the North American Tour was announced, there was no question that I would be attending some shows.. They didn't make a stop in Seattle so I made plans for Vancouver BC, and 2 shows in Las Vegas.. My only regret is that I couldn't make any of the shows in the UK or EU.. The timing was off for me (I had just returned from a trip to Europe, including Paris, so had to (sadly) skip this part of the tour).. I blog a bit myself and do a lot of "research" :) by previewing concert videos, reviews etc.. and I feel that Queen & Adam have really stepped up the energy and excitement level even more with this part of the Tour.. Or perhaps it's the enthusiasm that they are generating in UK and Europe that makes the concerts feel even more electric..The way the audience responds, sings along, knows the words to the songs.. Either way, lucky the fans who are seeing the Tour at this point in time.. And I, like you, am hoping to see the continuation of this "Match Made In Heaven" in the years to come.. I need an occasional "fix" of Adam Lambert's own music and live performances but I have also become rather addicted to this new Queen collaboration.. I adore the incredible Dr. Brian May and amazing Roger Taylor for seeing the potential for this magic to happen when they tapped Adam to join them.. May it bring us the best of both worlds... Thank you for your fabulous blog!!!!

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  13. Alimil

    Thank you for this spectacular review. I teared up when you shared your acceptance of Adam as front man for Queen. I too hope that this team--a match made in heaven--stays together indefinitely. Adam's solo career is no doubt uppermost on his list for now but I think he'd consider creating new music w Brian and Roger an amazing, unexpected opportunity not to be missed. Thanks for this uplifting history/recap. You've made Glamberts and Queenie's very happy.

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  14. Tiina1984

    You truly are a super cool guy! Your post made me cry...tears of joy and happiness. This makes me so very happy, how you Queenies are discovering Adam and his magic. I've never seen Queen live, but I've been lucky enough to see Adam twice here in Finland. The very first time I laid my eyes on Adam on Idol, I knew this boy would be a super star and it's been very exciting to follow his career unfold and his dreams become reality. I feel like a proud mom. Through these Queen concerts, I've become a Queen fan also. I'm so thankful of that. I was too young to ever experience the power of Mr Mercury, but I remember the time he passed away. I was only 7 years old, when I read about it from a news paper. I felt sad, because somehow I felt that a little bit of music died on that day..that the world lost a great soul. I've always been sensitive in that way. But the show must go on and it has, in the most magical way, I think. Lots of positive energies and angels to your side....Let's rock on and enjoy life!

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  15. Josi

    Agree with nearly everything you've written! Very much hoping they will at some later stage contine this tour in South Africa and South America. Especially here in South Africa! These seem to be the only two continents they haven't returned to, so we down south are really really hoping they will!

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  16. Sharon

    What an incredible article and so detailed. Best review I've read of European tour. Yes I would like to see Adam and Queen continue performing together on tour for many years to come and also want a DVD of the highlights of NA and European tour. Adam has injected new energy into the band especially Roger and Brian..they both look so happy and are laughing at Adam's antics on stage which adds to the entire show. Long live Queen with Adam Lambert.

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  17. genome38

    Truly wonderful read! I have loved Queen's music from the beginning, and discovered Adam late, after his AMA performance. I wished, like many, the twain would someday meet, but Adam's insistence on his own career kind of kept that hope on the back burner until FINALLY they did the MTV-EMA performance in November 2011 and the floodgates opened in the fandom. But he still had another album for us (which I love) before the 2012 QAL shows (glutton that I am, saw all 3 Hammersmith shows!) I NEVER thought to see this beloved band live in my lifetime - literally swooning for Brian May and Roger Taylor - with the added bonus of Adam. Maybe some "purists" cannot understand those of us who know we will never get to see early Queen, but can still love it and this new presentation. I rejoice in watching "Live at the Rainbow" - they were so brilliant - AND soaking in Queen with Adam live. Roger and Brian have kept the flame burning with new projects and this tour (Queen Forever, WWRY, Extravaganza, Montreal Live movie, the Rainbow, etc., all invoking or featuring Freddie) . Adam says it is a side-by-side thing for him, so hope for more collabs. And, South America waits, and more Asia and a true concert for Japan!

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  18. Thank you so much for putting your thoughts (and ours) into words. If I had to describe Adam in one word it would be INSPIRING. He has inspired so many people to be themselves and to be their best selves, including Brian and Roger.

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  19. Eowyn Rohan

    Thanks for your wonderful review. Just a comment while you are talking about Adam's songs that would match the Queen style. Just LISTEN to the bass line on Trespassing and try NOT to think of Another One Bites the Dust! In fact, there is a wonderful YouTube mash-up of the 2 ongs out there, done by a fan!

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  20. Judy

    Nice in depth review ! I too am hoping QAL will continue with new music in the near future. Too brilliant to end with this tour !

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  21. tattoojo

    This made me cry in a good way, so happy Queen fans are seeing Adam as we do, he is amazing and yes i would to love to see something more happen between him and them.

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