Queen & Adam Lambert, The Boomtown Rats, and The Darkness at Marlay Park
09 Jul 2018 by Pat Carty
Queen, The Darkness, and The Boomtown Rats? On the one bill? You don’t get many of them to the pound! Throw in this freakishly marvellous weather we’re having and surely nothing could go wrong? And you know what? Nothing did.
… A blast of ‘Seven Seas Of Rhye’ before going into ‘Tie Your Mother Down’, and they’ve already won. Sceptics might moan about leaving a legacy alone and all that, but when you see Brian May, wearing what one can only hope is his house coat – a long flowing thing covered in guitars, and a rather splendid and handsome looking Roger Taylor, you know they’ve made the right decision. The sheer joy in the air over Marlay Park would be enough to convince anyone. ‘Play The Game’ and ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’, including an extended guitar wig out from May, sound spectacular. But I know what you’re thinking, what about Adam Lambert?
Lambert starts the show in some sort of red leather jerkin, during ‘Girls’, he shows off platform heels that would have given Edmund Hillary vertigo. Before they go into ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, he reappears on stage in a green leather jacket and pink checkerboard pants, rising out of the stage on the head of the giant robot from the cover of News Of The World, not missing the chance to make an arse joke about it either. He rides a bicycle around the stage for, you’ve guessed it, ‘Bicycle Race’, and it’s no ordinary bike either, more a cross between Pee-Wee Herman’s two wheeler and a child’s tricycle. He strokes the microphone in a way that would make Price blush. Yes, he is certainly flamboyant enough for the job, the kind of fellow you could imagine receiving a late night call from Liberace advising him to “tone it down a bit”, but does he have the pipes? The answer is a resounding yes. Of course he’s not Freddie, but who could be? His voice does everything asked of it and more. He’s very good value indeed.
There’s a pleasingly rough ‘I’m In Love With My Car’ before a gritty ‘Another One Bites The Dust’, and then a call and response between vocals and guitar which introduces ‘I Want It All’. It goes double-time towards the end, Roger Taylor kicking hard at the back. Out on the gangway, a solo acoustic May dedicates ‘Love Of My Life’ to his great hero, Rory Gallagher. Lambert and Taylor then join him for ‘Somebody To Love’, which removes any lingering doubts about Lambert deserving his new job. He sings his arse off, although he does slap it a few times to check it’s still there. It’s an incredible moment, the field singing as one, everyone smiling and laughing together. They follow it up with ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ to keep it all going.
We then pause for a drum solo, because we have to, I suppose. Darkness drummer Rufus Tiger Taylor joins his father – yes, really – to add some vocal and tambourine to an absolutely monumental ‘Under Pressure’. Hot Press is getting a bit choked up. Freddie and Bowie are gone, the Gods must fall, but music is forever! I calm down a bit for ‘I Want To Break Free’ as thousands sing along perfectly to a guitar solo, only to tear up again for ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’, all dry ice and lasers.
Taylor got his turn so now May indulges himself with a solo guitar section incorporating bits of ‘Friends Will Be Friends’ and ‘Brighton Rock’. It’s all a bit Floydy for my liking with May ending up, fiddling away, on top of the robot’s hand. Once that’s out of his system, they plough through ‘The Show Must Go On’ – hats off again to Lambert – and then ‘Radio Ga-Ga’ – the crowd doing the famous handclaps is pretty awe inspiring. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is the only way they could finish their main set, May is forgiven for his earlier messing by ascending from below the stage in a space cape to take his solo. Of course the middle bits are on tape, but nobody cares, it’s a spine-tingling communal experience.
Before the encore, Freddie himself appears on the screen to lead us though his famous “Day-O!” vocal exercise. The cheer this gets speaks volumes about how much the man still means to those assembled. Not one to be easily outdone, Lambert reappears in a golden outfit complete with crown to lead us through ‘We Will Rock You’ and the closing ‘We Are The Champions’. If Lambert hadn’t a note in his head, it wouldn’t matter, for during ‘Champions’ you can’t hear him. This one belongs to the crowd.
It’s one of those nights when the audience troop out of the venue grinning and asking complete strangers “Can you f…… believe that? Wasn’t it incredible?” Bloody marvellous.