TONIGHT AT DAWN
27 July 2014 by Kimberly Cecchini
If I believed in conjuring the dead, I might say that Freddie Mercury was channeled last night at the Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall. Adam Lambert’s flamboyant and confident stage presence was more tribute than imitation, embodying the spirit of the spirit of Queen’s eclectic catalog. Of course, no one can truly take Mercury’s place, but, to answer Brian May’s question last night, I joined the audience in an energetic approval of the “new guy’s” performance.
Lambert’s performance in Killer Queen in which he coyly laid on a royal velvet couch and the way he orchestrated the crowd into a sing and repeat epitomized how he owned the frontman role.
There was a natural chemistry between Lambert and his legendary bandmates. Roger Taylor grinned as Lambert led an impromptu “Happy Birthday” and they easily played off of each other while Lambert still showed them deference.
Taylor and May played with an energy that convinced me that they still loved what they do. Dr. May did a rendition of “’39″ and was joined by Taylor, Taylor’s own son, Rufus Tiger Taylor (who skillfully shared half of the percussion section), bassist Neil Fairclough and keyboardist Spike Edney on the front stage. Taylor followed it up with a heartwarming vocal solo on “These are the Days of our Lives”. F
reddie Mercury and retired bassist, John Deacon, were tastefully choreographed into parts of the show through audiovisual magic. During a couple of numbers, clips of the band in their heyday were woven into the performance via a colossal screen framed with a steel “Q”. Lambert fluidly shared “Bohemian Rhapsody” alongside Mercury in a projection of archival footage with Freddie taking the last line, “Anyway the wind blows…”.
The lights, Lambert’s costumes and the elaborate set with all it’s moving parts added to the dynamism that the band brought to the classic boardwalk theater. I would counter that all the mobile components were not a necessity because the band itself, from the birthday boy to the young singer, delivered enough energy and drama to create a rock experience fit for a Queen.