Queen and Adam Lambert put on Five Star Night at Liverpool Echo Arena – Review


Haunting solos, massive hits and a genuine goosebumps moment as the Queen and Adam Lambert tour rolled into Liverpool

29 November 2017 by Luke Traynor

It was the question on everybody’s lips. So Adam Lambert chose to stroke the elephant in the room early doors. “I know what you’re thinking,” purred the American Idol. He’s no Freddie! …I know! There will only ever be one rock God, Freddie Mercury! I’m a fan just like you!”

It instantly got 11,000 Queen devotees at the Liverpool Echo Arena on his side. Either that did the trick, or equally, it may have been blistering performances of Tie Your Mother Down and Hammer To Fall.

There’s an established school of thought in modern rock music, which has turned from folklore into a stone cold fact – you just can’t imitate Freddie Mercury’s vocals.

Adam Lambert
Queen and Adam Lambert performing on 28th November 2017
at The Liverpool Echo Arena – photograph David Munn

Many have tried, and many have failed, with the late George Michael’s triumphant Somebody to Love version probably one of the very few that has made the grade. But it’s early on in tonight’s proceedings when Californian Lambert showed that his skyscraper vocals, and especially their power, were an equal imitation of Freddie’s finest performances. If you closed your eyes for a few seconds, Fat Bottomed Girls really did sound like the old Queen, with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor’s timeless backing harmonies to the fore.

“Who’d have thought I’d be here still doing this stuff at 95,” quipped May, during the unplugged section of the show, name checking, of course, the Mop Topped lads from Liverpool, before launching into an unquestionably lovely You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away. Astrophysicist May, sitting astride a stool, acoustic guitar in hand, was never going to be let down in the singing stakes by more than 10,000 Scousers, and his rendition of Love of My Life was a genuine goosebumps moment amid a backdrop of massive hits, upon massive hits.

To make proceedings even more special, Freddie appeared on screen, in footage from Queen’s Wembley 1986 gig, belting out those a cappella lines as if he’d never left us.

Adam Lambert and Queen - Liverpool
Queen and Adam Lambert performing on 28th November 2017
at The Liverpool Echo Arena – photograph David Munn

Under Pressure was another gem from 120 minutes of music, Lambert larynx-busting vocal sounding suitably tender on the “Turned away, from it all, like a blind man” line before howling like a banshee through the “Whys” – one of those special interludes when the 35-year-old almost, at times, bettered Mercury’s own inimitable live delivery.

Lambert departed, only briefly, to allow original Queen drummer Roger Taylor a chance to take centre stage, a musician who in his pomp could hit higher notes than “our Fred”, just nowhere near as nice-sounding.

Emerging from behind his cavernous wall of drums, Taylor took the lead on the perennially-wonderful “Days Of Our Lives”, accompanied by poignant and nostalgic video footage of Mercury, May, Deacon and Taylor in the 70s and 80s, when dodgy haircuts and brash costumes were the order of the day.

Queen and Adam Lambert - Liverpool
Queen and Adam Lambert performing on 28th November 2017
at The Liverpool Echo Arena – photograph David Munn

“These are the days of our lives,” offered up Taylor in his husky tones, words which seemed apt for these two ageing musicians, May, having reached his 70th birthday just four months ago.

May, in particular, seemed timeless, with that distinctive Queen guitar sound which many have attempted to imitate but nobody has bettered. His solos on the rumbustious I Want It All and the reflective Days Of Our Lives were as haunting as they’ve ever been.

On the subject of captivating, Highlander classic Who Wants to Live Forever is beautifully fragile and always a pertinent track at any post-Freddie Queen gig. But the night’s enduring image is perhaps thousands of Liverpudlians performing Radio Gaga’s slow handclap, as if bowing down to worship before rock royalty, May and Taylor.

The night ends in, predictable, but thrilling Bohemian Rhapsody fashion with Lambert giving his personal stamp on the “Mama, just killed a man,” lyrics, and May handling those muscular guitar lines in typical head-banging fashion.

Queen leave stage to return with their double A-side We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions, two songs whose longevity has suffered somewhat since their release on the 1977 album News Of The World, because of repeated radio and TV airplay. In Lambert’s hands, however, they sound fresh and with a new vibrancy that even Freddie would have been proud of.