QUEEN + ADAM LAMBERT – Live, July 13 2014 at the Air Canada Center, Toronto
I have to start off this review by saying I love Queen. I have listened to more songs by Queen than almost any band ever. I am told when people I know hear Queen, Steve Miller Band, Black Sabbath or 80’s metal, they think of me. So the review you are about to read really pains me to write. But I have to be true to myself and review the band as I saw them last night.
I went to this concert expecting to hate every little bit of Adam Lambert. I hated him on American Idol. Yes, I know. I hate to admit it, but for a while I did watch that show. How, you say, can a died-in-the-wool metal head and 70’s hard rock lover watch American Idol? Well. To answer that question, my family time TV viewing was limited to the type of shows we could watch together. Having a young pre-teen in the house meant only watching family type shows when she was awake. And she loved American Idol. At first I liked Adam Lambert. He was not your typical contestant on that show. But then he started showing off his pipes too much, and it got annoying. All of the viewers knew precisely when he was going to wail, and we got sick of him.
Then I heard the news that he was going to be the next lead singer for Queen.
Queen and American Idol. That is sacrilege. This would be like Gary Cherone in Van Halen. It wouldn’t work. It couldn’t work.
However, it did.
I hate to say this, but the three shining spots of the concert last night really had nothing at all to do with the original line up of Queen.
First, Adam Lambert was actually great. If Freddie Mercury was incredible, then Adam Lambert was great. He was spot on. He was campy, in a Freddie kind of way, and his voice was in top shape.
Second, Neil Fairclough, the bass player they hired to replace the retired John Deacon was amazing. His stand up electric bass was the biggest bass I have ever seen. It sounded sweet. And then he let Roger Taylor use drumsticks to play the bass (a first for me).
Third, Rufus Tiger Taylor. He is the son of Roger Taylor. And he has some serious chops. I didn’t realize how good he was until my wife pointed out to me that he was better than his dad. And last night, he was.
The concert was going along great, and then Adam Lambert left the stage, and the show for me mostly fell apart.
Please don’t get me wrong I love Brian May, but he was mostly off last night. His entire night sounded about a half second behind. His finger work was slow. His guitar solo (which was roughly 30 minutes) was about 28 minutes too long. It started out with a few minutes of Pink Floyd , then onto some Zeppelin, back to Floyd. I don’t think he was trying to copy David Gilmour or Jimmy Page, but the elements were there. At least I hope he wasn’t trying to copy them because he was doing a piss poor version if he was. For a guy that has seen many guitar virtuosos over the years, this was like watching a Junior High guitar talent show. The worst part for me was when Brian May screwed up in “Bohemian Rhapsody”. It was a real fingernails on the chalkboard moment for me.
During the song “Love of My Life”, Brian moved down to the front of the stage alone with an acoustic guitar. He admits he is not a singer. Well, Brian we quickly figured out why. Your voice was awful. God awful. And you chose to have the audience sing the other half of the lyrics of the song. You could have heard a pin drop when the 100 or so people in the entire audience of 15,000 that actually knew the lyrics were singing (whispering?). Here’s a hint. Choose a song most of the audience knows if you want them to sing the lyrics for you, or put the lyrics up on a screen.
Coming from the area of the world where Neil Peart is from, and having seen Rush in concert many times (and more recently seeing how good Tommy Clufetos can bang the skins), the drumming of Roger Taylor was another let down. It wasn’t bad. It just didn’t wow me. But in 2014, solos really are passé unless you are really amazing, and Roger Taylor was not. He does not have a great singing voice either, which really showed when he tried to fill in for David Bowie during “Under Pressure”.
His son is a real up and comer though, and I hope he finds his own way in the music industry. It seems especially tough on children of famous musicians.
After the horrible “Love of My Life”, Brian May talked about space travel and how we were all going on a journey and we may never come back, then all of the musicians(other than Lambert) went to the front of the stage and did “’39”. Pardon me while I yawn.
Please Adam, come back and save us from this snooze fest. As the lights go down and the audience sees Adam there is a huge cheer.
However, after a couple of classic Queen songs, they forced him to sing a remix of a little known Freddie Mercury disco song called “Love Kills”. He announced Queen was using this version in an upcoming album. In my opinion, they should do a new album with new material, perhaps throwing in a few B-sides of old material, or do a live album. They could include Freddie, Paul Rodgers, Freddie Tribute Concert songs and Adam. Just my two cents. Also in my opinion, the band had plenty of time to come out with this new album before the tour, but they didn’t. And all they had for sale at the swag booths were $40 T-shirts. I have enough T-shirts thanks. Not one CD or vinyl. Nothing.
The entire show for me was like “backwards day”. I assumed Brian May and Roger Taylor would be the highlight of the show. I told my wife the only reason I am going was to hear Brian May. But the cast of nobodies were better.
I should end the review by stating the whole is better than the sum of its parts for Queen + Adam Lambert. When they are together doing classic Queen songs, they sound great. When they do solos, and off-key singing, it didn’t work.
If they had included 8-10 more songs, and skipped a lot of the solos, I would have rated it higher.
My wife summed up the concert when we got back to the car by stating she liked The Lady Gaga concert a few nights before better (No, thankfully I did not attend that one). I told her “Don’t say that!”
For me, Adam Lambert was 8.5/10, the band without Adam 4/10, so together the show was 7.5/10. Too bad. It could have been much better.
[This works out to 3.75/5 on the five-point LeBrain scale. Thank you Boppin for this amazing review! — LeBrain]
- Now I’m Here
- Stone Cold Crazy
- Another One Bites the Dust
- Fat Bottomed Girls
- In the Lap of the Gods… Revisited
- Seven Seas of Rhye
- Killer Queen
- Somebody to Love
- I Want It All
- Love of My Life
- These Are the Days of Our Lives
- Under Pressure
- Love Kills
- Who Wants to Live Forever
- Guitar Solo
- Tie Your Mother Down
- Radio Ga Ga
- Crazy Little Thing Called Love
- The Show Must Go On
- Bohemian Rhapsody
- Encore: We Will Rock You
- Encore: We Are the Champions