Pop Review: Queen and Adam Lambert at Echo Arena, Liverpool


The real star is the high-tech production which distracts when formerly lithe, lusty hits show their creaky jointed age

29 November 2017 by Stephen Dalton

Adam Lambert - LiverpoolAdam Lambert had the youthful energy Queen’s songs demand REX/SHUTTERSTOCK


Las Vegas met Last Night of the Proms when Queen began the mainland British leg of their latest world tour in Liverpool. A quarter of a century after losing their original frontman, Freddie Mercury, these grey-haired rock elder statesmen could easily have become a tired heritage act. But this show was a dazzling spectacle — vintage Britrock pageantry enhanced by 21st-century technology.

Half the age of the guitarist Brian May, the 35-year-old American Idol veteran Adam Lambert provided the youthful swagger and tight-trousered showmanship that Queen’s maximalist anthems demand. He may lack Mercury’s volcanic charisma and operatic tonsils, but he possesses a powerful voice and, arguably, even upstaged his predecessor in the uber-camp-outfit stakes. “Pfff, he’s no Freddie!” Lambert quipped with a self-mocking wink before taking a creditable stab at the vaulting melodrama of Don’t Stop Me Now.

Mercury appeared in several video cameos throughout the evening. But if Queen are looking to fill the gap left by Mercury’s planet-sized ego, they have found an innovative solution. The real star of this show was its high-tech production, which included a 21-metre catwalk stage modelled on May’s guitar, two vast mobile video screens, and an eight-tonne kinetic lighting rig that tilted and twisted high above the stage. A huge disco mirrorball appeared during I Want to Break Free and a phalanx of rainbow-coloured lasers accompanied Who Wants to Live Forever. All this visual Viagra served as a useful distraction on the rare occasions when formerly lithe, lusty hits began to show their creaky jointed age.

“Who would have thought I’d still be doing this stuff at 95?” May joked during a mid-set solo interlude before paying homage to the Liverpool crowd with a tender acoustic treatment of the Beatles’ You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away. For the majestically overblown climax, an avalanche of all-time anthems from Bohemian Rhapsody to We Are the Champions, he donned a shiny wizard’s cape while Lambert wore a sparkly crown. Led by the world’s most unlikely guitar god, a poodle-haired doctor of astrophysics, this magisterial pomp-rock pantomime was not quite rocket science, but it came pretty close.

Touring to December 16