Q+AL Boston Reviews


23 July 2014 by By Sarah Rodman

Adam Lambert - Boston
Adam Lambert – Boston

It’s always fraught when a classic rock band tours without its original singer, particularly when that person is dead. Queen devotees definitely fall in the top 5 of divided fan bases since the powerful and imaginative British rock titans were gifted with one of the most legendary entertainers in rock history in Freddie Mercury, who passed away in 1991.

Those who believe guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor are desecrating his memory by touring with Adam Lambert, who first met and played with the duo when he was competing on “American Idol,” were likely not among the robust crowd at the Queen + Adam Lambert show at the TD Garden Tuesday.

Many in the audience looked young enough to have been robbed of the chance of actually seeing the band with Mercury — and retired original bassist John Deacon — and eagerly took the opportunity to see what May, Taylor, Lambert, and a trio of backing musicians had cooked up.

It was an intriguing, thoughtfully curated, 2-hour, 10-minute performance.

There were plenty of hits sung by Lambert, a fine singer in his own right who clearly shares a kinship to Mercury in terms of theatrical flair but who wisely avoided mimicry of the inimitable legend.

His best moments came during the songs that played up his range and stamina. The grand, gospel-tinged pleader “Somebody to Love,” the high drama “Who Wants to Live Forever,” and the sky-scraping wails of “Under Pressure” were particularly well suited to his vocal prowess and performance style.

Taylor and May also took the opportunity to step up to the microphone, in part to pay tribute to their old friend. May, nimble as ever on his elastic solos, was particularly moved at the reception to a joyfully celestial midset version of the Beatlesque “Love of My Life” that featured an audience sing-along and an appearance from Mercury on video. Taylor tackled the poignant “These Are the Days of Our Lives” as younger visions of the quartet floated by onscreen.

Mercury also got the final word during the still giddy and combustible “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Lambert cheekily returned for the encore of “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions” in a fabulous sparkly crown.

23 July 2014 by Bill Brotherton

Adam and Brian
Queen + Adam Lambert perform at United Center, Chicago, Ill. 6/19/14 (courtesy photo)

Is this the real life, or is this just fantasy? Adam Lambert sings those words from “Bohemian Rhapsody” every night as the featured vocalist for beloved British rock royalty Queen, and he must ask himself that very question. For the kid from San Diego, who is the latest singer to take the place of Freddie Mercury, the charismatic Queen frontman who died in 1991, it must be a little of both.

And Lambert, 32, is certainly the right man for the job, as he ably proved Tuesday night during a 2 hour, 15 minute show at the TD Garden billed as Queen + Adam Lambert.

Lambert, an “American Idol” runner-up, is theatrical and dramatic like Mercury, all thunderbolt and lightning. His powerful tenor and multi-octave voice amazed all night, whether he was caressing the lyrics of “Somebody to Love,” belting out a hard-rocking “Another One Bites the Dust” or going over the top during a sensational “Who Wants to Live Forever” that was punctuated by lasers, a disco ball, once-frowned-upon synthesizers and yet another guitar solo by Brian May that brought down the house. During a killer “Killer Queen,” divo Lambert luxuriated on a divan and played up the song’s campiness. Most importantly, Lambert didn’t attempt to imitate or impersonate the incomparable Mercury; his own affable, chatty personality shined through.

May, who sports a massive gray afro and who turned 67 last Saturday, and drummer Roger Taylor, who turns 65 this Saturday, are the sole original members (bassist John Deacon retired in 1997) and they remain the heart and soul of Queen. May, in particular, dazzled on guitar, a replica of the famous “Red Special” that May and his dad made using bicycle and motorbike parts and wood from an old fireplace. A camera mounted on his axe gave the near-capacity crowd an up-close look at his skills — he uses a coin instead of a pick! — and his abuse of the whammy bar. His solos during “Fat Bottomed Girls,” “I Want it All” and the closing “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We Will Rock You”/”We Are the Champions” demonstrated why May places so high on Greatest Guitarist of All-Time lists.

Taylor, whose son/bandmate Rufus Tiger demonstrated he’s a terrific drummer in his own right, is a steady and strong player. He provided muscle to a tightly wound “Under Pressure” and “Tie Your Mother Down” and the rhythmically perfect “Radio Gaga,” during which fans clapped in all the right places. Taylor sang lead on the heartfelt “These Are the Days of My Life,” which featured video of Mercury, Deacon, May and Taylor through the years. Mercury, in fact, had a commanding presence throughout the show via video. He appeared on-screen while May sang a heartfelt acoustic “Love of My Life” and contributed mightily to “Bohemian Rhapsody” via old concert footage.

A mid-set series of bass, drum and guitar solos disrupted the momentum a bit, but did little to minimize the fun quotient. And I wish the band performed “The Show Must Go On,” which is one of Queen’s finest songs and has been played in nearly every show on this tour.

I was blessed to have seen Queen in concert back in the ’70s at the Orpheum and the Music Hall. They were something special. Tuesday night, May, Taylor and Lambert did Freddie proud, delivering a crackerjack show that added to the legacy of one of rock music’s greatest bands. Bravo!