When it was announced that Queen were heading out on tour, fans had to pinch themselves: Was this real life? Or was this just fantasy?
It was the former last night (July 4) as original Queen members Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor his Edmonton's Rogers Place with singer Adam Lambert filling in on vocals. In what would be a night of impeccable showmanship and visual wonderment, concertgoers found themselves in a reality they didn't want to leave.
The house lights dimmed and the all too familiar boom boom clap of "We Will Rock You" started playing from behind a massive screen on stage. Audience members jumped to their feet and began stomping and clapping along with the beat hard enough to consider the structural integrity of the building. The screen was lifted, unveiling Queen and a posed Adam Lambert, who made his way down the long centre of the stage chanting the titled lyrics for a brief time, though the song acted as a prelude before the group transitioned into "Hammer to Fall." This would be followed by a plethora of wardrobe changes and fan favourites including "Another One Bites the Dust," "Fat Bottomed Girls" and "Killer Queen," keeping the energy in the building vibrant and abundant.
Plenty of hardcore Queen fans might worry about Lambert's ability to fill in for the larger-than-life Freddie Mercury, but his stage presence was absolutely magnetic as he strutted his way across all areas of the stage showcasing sass, pizzazz and the occasional ass shake, all while including enough pelvic thrusting to evoke a 1970s roller disco. Lambert was just the right amount of flamboyancy and sensual seductiveness to encapsulate the essence of the late Mercury.
That said, although Lambert has a broad range and talented vocal strength, at moments throughout the show it seemed that he was somewhat conservative when it came to unleashing the full potential of his vocal ability, causing a slight lull at climactic points in songs, in what would have otherwise been exhilarating moments.
To acknowledge the elephant in the room, Lambert took a moment during the set to address the crowd: "I know what you're thinking, he's no Freddie Mercury." Yet, he reassured fans that he has no intention of replacing the late frontman. "I do this to keep his dream alive, and to honour him." Lambert's humble approach to filling in as front man for the legendary rock group and making light of it set a tone for the evening that allowed the audience to accept the substitute.
Guitarist Brian May displayed his vocal chops by performing "Love of My Life," which May sang while playing an acoustic guitar. Roughly halfway through the song, a brief video on the large screen now above the stage showed Mercury singing alongside his bandmate, giving the performance a sentimental and intimate tone.
Expectedly, Queen and Lambert ended their set list with "Radio Ga Ga" followed by "Bohemian Rhapsody," which influenced everyone's inner Wayne and Garth to emerge in what was a wave of headbanging and hair flipping. After a moment offstage, and chants and cheers from the crowd, the group came back to play their encore, ending the show appropriately with the remaining end of "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions."
Pick up Queen's back catalogue on vinyl via Umusic.