Adam Lambert says people who have a problem with him fronting Queen on the upcoming tour, should stay at home.
ADAM LAMBERT: “There were a few negative whispers the first time I did shows with Queen. If I focused on that what would be the point? If there’s somebody out there that feels really strongly that this isn’t the same Queen then don’t come But if you don’t come you’re going to miss one hell of a show. Obviously at the start I was apprehensive of what I was about to do.. Freddie Mercury was one of my heroes. There will only ever be one Freddie Mercury. There’s no comparing. I can’t get close to some of the things he did. But it’s not necessarily about that to me. It’s about getting on stage and singing amazing music and continuing the legacy of the band.”
Adam is putting his third abum on hold shit week to head to London to start intensive rehearsals with Queen’s guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor for a US and Australian tour. After auditioning for American Idol with Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, he wound up performing with the Queen duo on the show. That led to his first gig fronting Queen in Kiev in June 2012. It was a trial by fire.
“There were 250,000 people there. That’s the biggest audience I’ve ever been in front of. I remember thinking how surreal it was — how did this happen? The rush I felt with Brian and Roger in that moment was priceless. I’ll never forget that.”
“It’s such an honour and a great experience to be on stage and singing these amazing tunes and getting to connect with new fans. I could never pass it up. It’s very nostalgic. No, it’s not going to be the same as it was when Freddie was alive. None of us expect it to be, but it’s a lot of fun and we have a great time on stage. We laugh a lot, the audiences we’ve performed before loves it. That’s what it comes down to; it’s about celebrating the band.”
“Me out front of Queen does feel like a pretty good fit. What really resonates with me is that Queen is known for the theatrics, the music, some of it is very dramatic, lots of big melodies, very grand. That’s part of my DNA coming from the theatre world, some of the stuff people have seen me do over the years is also theatrical and over the top. The music is fun to step into. The catalogue isn’t just that. What’s genius about Queen and a testament to how musical and creative they were is that they went in and out of a bunch of different styles and made it work. That to me is really exciting, to get on stage and sing all these different vibes.”
Lambert says the new Queen tour will include all the band’s biggest hits, including two he notes are the most difficult for him to sing.
“The ones that are most challenging are the big power ballads like Who Wants to Live Forever and The Show Must Go On. They feel like they take it out of you because emotionally they’re very intense, they’re just big. Bohemian Rhapsody is quite a work out, for sure. But not as hard as those other two.”
And it’s hard to move beyond being just the world’s most authentic Queen tribute act.
“It’s a balancing act. If you go too far away from the original it’s a little indulgent. But if I got up there and just copied Freddie I feel that’d be disrespectful to him. If I can’t quite figure out where the balance is I look (at) what the emotional intention of the song is, what were they trying to say with this lyric, what are they trying to make the audience feel. When you boil it down to that it’s not as hard as it sounds. Plus I’ve got Brian and Roger on either side of me, I can ask them ‘Did that sound good, should I try something different?’.
“Freddie was so many different things – a great vocalist, a great showman and an amazing songwriter. I do my best interpreting the songs with the original intent. Brian and Roger are the icons here; I look to them for a lot of guidance.”
“I’m one to really dive into the whole world when I do something. I’ve watched countless documentaries about Freddie; I’ve asked questions of Roger and Brian. It makes it feel more real, I’m creating a world for myself to exist in on stage. I can watch a DVD of Queen in Montreal and listen to the interesting things they did musically that might be different to the record. There are so many ins and outs; it’s a real challenge and a treat.”
He’s throwing his favourite obscure Queen song, Dragon Attack (“it’s so funky and minimal”) into the mix when they start working out the tour set list.
“I realise how lucky I am,. The stories Brian and Roger tell are priceless. They come from a time when rock and roll was legend. There are myths and stories they were involved in. This is before we had photos of everything and Instagram and Twitter. It’s like folklore. That’s what makes classic rock so romantic, and Queen are the crown jewels of that for me.”
Is there a chance he might write with Queen?
“It could happen. This will be the longest we’ve spent together so I’m sure we’ll get to the point where we want to do something creative. Now we know the show let’s do something new. It could happen. The best thing about working with Brian and Roger on this tour is that they certainly don’t need to do it, they’re choosing to. That feels good. It’s a natural thing that came together to bring these songs back to life.”
■ Queen with Adam Lambert play Perth Arena August 22, Allphones Arena Sydney August 26, Rod Laver Arena Melbourne August 29 and 30 and Brisbane Entertainment Centre on September 1. Tickets from Ticketek.
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28 May 2014 – Cameron Adams