Q+AL Reviews – Uncasville


July 20, 2014

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – There are Queen purists who abhor the thought that the surviving members of the British band would tour with ANYONE subbing for the late Freddie Mercury at the microphone.

Too bad for them. They missed a killer Queen show

. “Queen + Adam Lambert: A Once in a Lifetime Experience” brought the 2009 “American Idol” finalist and Queen guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor together before a sold-out crowd at the 10,000-seat Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday night. (They return Friday for another performance).

With fog, lasers, extended solos on top of extended solos, and, oh yeah, an impressive catalog of songs, it was – as Taylor aptly put it – a “show with no dancers and real singers.”

Lambert, who has two successful albums under his belt, wisely avoided mimicry in handling Mercury’s role during the 22-song set.

Although the Indianapolis native is a Queen fan, he was 9-years-old when Mercury died in 1991. Lambert’s singing reflects modern R&B and hip hop influences giving the songs a slightly different, but still electrifying, sound. Queen and Lambert kicked off the night set with a rousing “Now I’m Here” followed by “Stone Cold Crazy.”

A generous sampling of FM favorites from the 1970s and ‘80s were sprinkled through the 140-minute show – “Fat Bottomed Girls,” “Killer Queen” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” to name but a few.

Lambert, no stranger to theatrics, performed “Killer Queen” laying across an orchid and gold-trimmed divan and changed costumes several times during the night.

There were some surprises. Lambert and company did a nice job tackling “Love Kills,” Mercury’s 1984 solo hit, which was featured in Giorgio Moroder’s reworking of the classic silent film “Metropolis.”

A not-so-pleasant surprise for the tweens in attendance was the absence of any of Lambert’s songs. Why not slip in one of his Top 40 hits, “Whataya Want from Me” or “If I Had You?”

Lambert handled the bulk of the singing, but Taylor and May were hardly silent.

Taylor and Lambert sang together on “Under Pressure,” a 1981 hit the band originally recorded with David Bowie. It was one of the highpoints of the night.

Taylor also did the singing on “These Are the Days of Our Lives,” while May sang “Love of My Life,” which concluded with a video snippet of Mercury performing the song in concert.

May’s guitar work and Taylor’s drumming are extraordinary. No wonder Lambert remarked that night after night he takes the stage and is “in awe of this band.”

May celebrated his 67th birthday on Saturday and Lambert led the crowd in a sing-along of “Happy Birthday.” May appeared genuinely moved and later asked the cheering throng, “What do you think of the new guy.”

Queen and Lambert brought the evening to a close with the legendary “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which again included a pre-recorded video of a singing Mercury shown on the giant stage screens.

The band returned for a spirited encore of “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions.”

Queen and Lambert did rock and they proved themselves champions.

July 20, 2014 by John Nash

UNCASVILLE — There will never be another Freddie Mercury. That’s a given fact, all but indisputable by anybody who knows rock and roll.

But Adam Lambert — once voted on as an “Idol” by television viewers of America — is one of helluva front of man for the band Queen, and he proved just that to 9,000 more music fans in attendance at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday.

Tabbed as “Queen with Adam Lambert,” the rock and roll legends of yesteryear have teamed up with the future of the music industry for a tour that will take them through the United States before moving on to South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

The Mohegan Sun show was proof that while many critics think Lambert standing in the platform shoes of Mercury is some sort of sacrilege against rock and roll, the actual two-hour plus show is the proof in the pudding that it is not.

You don’t replace Mercury. It’s impossible. Rather, you just find somebody who can pay him homage in a way that is both respectful and impressive to the man and his music.

Lambert fits that bill and kudos to guitarist Brian May and percussionist Roger Taylor, the two members of the original Queen still bringing the music to the people. Mercury, of course, passed away of AIDS-related bronchopneumonia in 1991 at the age of 45, and bassist John Deacon retired in 1997 and has grown distant from the rest of the band.

Yet even with half of the original band gone, Queen still rocks an arena full bore.

Joined by bassist Neil Fairclough, pianist Spike Edney and percussionist Rufus Taylor — Roger’s son who is a spitting image of the Queen drummer from his younger days — Queen gave fans a concert to remember, more proof as to why demand for more their shows have led to dates being added to the tour.

I dare say from start to finish, including all facets of the night — musically, setlist, lighting, sound, stage presence — Queen’s appearance at the Sun was the best concert of 2014. (And I’ve seen both Bruce Springsteen and Prince this year).

First and foremost, Lambert — while was only 9-year-olds when Mercury died — was born to fill this role.

I admit going into the arena, I was skeptical.

Queen was one of my favorite bands growing up and the fact a made-for-TV rock star (Lambert was American Idol’s runner-up in 2009) would be filling in for the beloved and legendary Mercury left me feeling uneasy.

He had me at “Here I stand” — the opening lyrics to the opening song “Now I’m Here.”

Anybody who has watched Lambert grow into the spotlight know he’s not mimicking Mercury as he performs, but he’s being himself — a rock star who just happens to also be gay, just like Mercury was so many decades ago.

Of course, now it’s a different day and age and Lambert can be far more comfortable than Mercury ever was, but Adam Lambert being Adam Lambert — and not trying to be Freddie Mercury — is what made the 32-year-old Indianapolis native the perfect choice to front the band.

Lambert’s voice is perfect for many of Queen’s songs, with a range that seems infinite both ways, but he has an especially impressive ability to strike those high notes so many of the band’s songs demand. Especially touching and emotional for the true Queen fans of the world was how the band paid tribute to Mercury so many times during the show.

There was May sitting under a lone spotlight in the middle of the arena, playing an acoustic guitar as he sang the Mercury-written ballad, “Love Of My Life” before a 30-foot tall high definition video screen, which rose high above the stage, suddenly featured Mercury singing along to the delight of the crowd.

During “Bohemian Rhapsody” — perhaps Queen’s ultimate rock and roll anthem — Lambert opened the song before giving way to May’s guitar solo. That was followed by all four younger original members of the man once again appearing on the screen, appearing via the video of the hit song made famous by MTV.

Lambert returned for the finishing touches, sharing lines with Mercury via the video high above him.

It was the perfect tribute and connection between the band’s past and future and one fans seemed to accept with open arms.

All of Queen’s hits were there to enjoy, as well.

From “Another One Bites The Dust” and “Fat Bottomed Girls” to “Killer Queen” and “Somebody To Love” to “Under Pressure” and “Radio Gaga” it was Queen doing what they do best — rocking the house from start to finish.

The show slowed slightly as May — who was celebrating his 67th birthday, and a received the obligatory “Happy Birthday To You” from the entire house — went into a 15-minute guitar solo that felt 10 minutes too long.

But, a rousing rendition of “Tie Your Mother Down” got the fans right back into it for a finishing kick to the evening.

After Rhapsody, the band bid its crowd good night and disappeared into the bowels of the arena.

Fans, however, weren’t having any of that, no matter how great a finish it was.

Banging their feet to the familiar beat of “We Will Rock You”, Queen returned for an encore that included that song and its accompanying “We Are The Champions.”

Freddy Mercury might not be there any more fronting Queen, but his spirit was certainly alive and well because Lambert paid him the perfect tribute and May and Taylor realized that their music is what made the band so special so many decades ago.

Bringing it back to the people is what is most important and with Lambert they found the perfect person — with the perfect voice — in which to do that.

Queen returns to Mohegan Sun Arena on July 25.

20 July 2014 by Rick Koster

When “American Idol” fave Adam Lambert was officially invited inside the Great Cathedral of Queen and offered the throne on the Altar of St. Mercury, do you suppose he was handed one of those rubber acolyte’s bracelets as a not-so-subtle reminder: Always ask yourself, Adam. WWFD? “

What Would Freddie Do?”

Saturday night in a shake-the-rafters Mohegan Sun Arena, Lambert, fronting a five-piece Queen anchored by founding drummer/vocalist Roger Taylor and guitarist/vocalist Brian May, resoundingly answered a perhaps more important question.

HWAD — How would Adam Do?

Just freakin’ fine, thanks.

For two-and-a-half hours, the ensemble officially billed as Queen + Adam Lambert put on a mostly tremendous rock show supported by streamlined effects and a helpful runway leading to a small, intimate stage mid-hall. Lambert’s vocals were nuanced and powerful throughout and replicated Mercury’s operatic range and melodic dynamics insofar as such a thing is possible. He was confident and flamboyant and worked the costume changes in natural homage to Mercury’s legacy, but did so comfortably and within his own persona.

Lambert also seemed genuinely moved and honored to be onstage with May and Taylor, and had an absolute blast with the whole thing — particularly when he led a singalong in honor of May’s 67th birthday.

But don’t forget: this was a Queen deal. May and Taylor came through in equally stellar fashion. Their playing and singing belied those creeping actuarial tables in good-humored, energetic and gracious fashion, and support members Spike Edney (keyboards/vocals), Rufus Tiger Taylor (drums/vocals and, yes, Roger’s son) and Neil Fairclough (bass/vocals) contributed mightily. Oh: and those all-important Queen harmonies? They appeared to be live and without taped assistance.

The catalog was representative, and a monstrous opening salvo of “Now I’m Here” and “Stone Cold Crazy” from “Sheer Heart Attack” was almost too great for the band to follow. But of course they did. Yes, all the big hits were represented — the climactic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” featuring Lambert’s line-by-line duet with a big-screen Mercury — was beautifully imagined and pulled-off.

But it was the lesser-known tunes that provided the greatest emotional moments. May’s short acoustic set, featuring Mercury’s “Love of My Life” and the guitarist’s own lovely “’39,” was warmly melancholy. And Taylor emerged from his kit to sing maybe his finest song, “These Are the Days of Our Lives.” Fans know the band’s official video of that song was Mercury’s swansong, and an accompanying big-screen montage of Queen images throughout their career was overwhelmingly moving.

If anything, the obligatory bass, drums and guitar solos could easily have been replaced by more, ah, tunes. Ditto for Lambert’s far-too-long call-and-response exercise with a frequently bewildered audience. On the whole, though, it’s hard to imagine that Mercury would be anything but proud.