Queen + Adam Lambert Tour Opening Night


by Anthony Kuzminski

.
Chicago, IL- United Center - June 19, 2014

When Freddie Mercury passed away in 1991, I assumed it meant the end of Queen. Obviously, Freddie's physical presence was no longer with us, but as evidenced at the opening night of the Queen + Adam Lambert world tour in Chicago, his spirit reigns over the crowd like never before. For just under two-hours, guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor delivered a greatest-hits set designed to pummel led by raging riffs that took center stage. Queen has always had a peculiar relationship with America. The last time they toured here with Mercury was 1982 (in a suburb) and the last time Queen played Chicago-proper was December 7, 1978 at the Chicago Stadium. The United Center now stands in its place and it was a homecoming of sorts with the band not just staking their claim to the throne of rock n' roll but also introducing a flashy and fierce performer who helped bring these hymns to the masses; Adam Lambert. On paper, Lambert looks like a bit of a Mercury clone with his flamboyancy, but there's so much more to him than the naysayers know about. He knows there's no replacing Mercury, but there's no denying he's a musical descendant of Mercury. But would it work onstage? Could the two remaining members of Queen (bassist John Deacon retired in 1997) bring these classics to an audience who is hungry for them without soiling their memories? I am thrilled to report that with a mixture of impassioned musicianship, a crowd charged with brazen enthusiasm and a catalog that is only matched by a handful, this tour serves Queen and their legacy with purpose and pride.

A massive curtain with the Queen's logo covered the stage, you could feel the anticipation in the air in the moments before it dropped unveiling the band. Opening the show with "Now I'm Here", the crowd leapt to their feet and stayed there for the majority of their two-hour show. There was a minor snafu with Adam Lambert's microphone going out, but being a true professional, he simply moved across the stage to a back-up microphone and continued as if nothing had happened. I mention it only to show how well they recovered. If Lambert had arrived onstage on a motorcycle he could have been mistaken for Rob Halford circa 1990. Dressed in black leather and studs, Lambert complimented these songs in his own way. As good as Lambert was, the curly silver-haired guitarist, Brian May, continually stole the show song-after-song. During the night's second song, "Stone Cold Crazy", May unleashed his musical muscle on his Red Special guitar in such a manner it was hard to not get emotional over seeing him onstage playing these songs. Reaching back to the past in what seems like a bottomless reservoir, May continually thrust his magic through his fingers where it spilled out into the audience. Since 1990, I've had a hard time hearing "Stone Cold Crazy" without the Metallica version in my head, but tonight, May took it back and with infinite spirals of guitar wizardry, he continually left the Chicago audience is mouth-gaping awe. Drummer Roger Taylor provided a sense of urgency to his dynamic pounding behind the kit. Despite being in his sixties, "Stone Cold Crazy", "I Want It All", "Under Pressure" (for which he provided the Bowie harmonies) and "Tie Your Mother Down" were every bit as thunderous as you could hope for. He let his son take over the kit so he could sing the emotional "These Are the Days of Our Lives" which was the final video he band shot with Mercury in 1991.

I always knew Adam Lambert had to goods to be a great performer and front man, but could he pull of these songs with this band? Early in the show on "Another One Bites the Dust", he roamed to the front of the stage and immediately engaged the crowd for a call-and-response. During the trio of "In the Lap of the Gods... Revisited" the unbelievable "Seven Seas of Rhye" and a delicious "Killer Queen" Lambert found his groove. This is where he became less self-conscious and started embracing his inner rock God. He can command a stage like the best veterans and even though he is singing songs that are not his, it didn't stop him from pouring every ounce if his being into it all. He's playful, a tease, but he always took the music seriously. Musically the set is veers heavy on hits. This didn't seem to bother any of the 17,000 in attendance. Nearly twice as many people paid to see Queen + Paul Rogers in 2006. Ticket demand was so high that the arena opened up semi-obstructed seats behind the soundboard and next to the stage to fill demand. I've always said that you can tell ticket demand for a show when these sections are sold. Among the highlights were "I Want It All" and "The Show Must Go On" from their latter records, The Miracle and Innuendo. For a reason I can't exactly pinpoint I went on a Queen kick earlier this year. What this means is I listen to every record, begin reading biographies and get my hands on anything I could. Growing up in America, there was a time when Queen did not have a label in America, so their entire catalog was out-of-print until 1992 and since Queen stopped touring here in 1992, their records in the US came and went within a month. However, what struck me was the musical maturity on The Miracle and Innuendo, two records that were written and recorded when the band knew Mercury would not be with them forever. This awareness permeates the records in a way no one could have foreseen. More shocking is the masterpiece Made in Heaven, which was largely recorded after Mercury's death. "I Want It All" and "The Show Must Go On" despite being from records the band didn't tour behind were fist-pumping highlights.

The main stage featured a circular screen, lasers, lights and smoke but it was the mini stage that featured some of the night's finest and most intimate moments. May tackled "Love of My Life" alone with an acoustic guitar but before the song could finish the screen featured Freddie Mercury singing the song. It was almost too much to bear. Moments like these make you wish you could have seen a sixty-something Mercury creating music and what it would sound like. May continued with a stunning rendition of "'39" from A Night at the Opera which feature the band joining him on the smaller stage upfront. Roger Taylor took his turn with a dueling drum solo with his son, Rufus Tiger Taylor. As the band gathered around Taylor and his kit, they launched into a drop-to-your-knees version of "Under Pressure" where Taylor and Lambert gleefully traded lyrical barbs as the audience hung on their every word. Following it was a new Queen song, "Love Kills" which will see a release later this year on a compilation album entitled Queen Forever. "Love Kills" was originally a Mercury solo single, but it's been recorded by the band in order to make it a Queen number (much like some of the material on Made In Heaven). Lambert was especially heartrending in his stoic delivery of the song.

Back on the main stage, Lambert wrung every drop of humanity from within on "Who Wants To Live Forever" with May pairing arena bombast with gripping despair. The band was accentuated by lasers and a disco ball, which descended upon the mini stage where Lambert and May touchingly brought to song to its climax in a moment I won't soon forget. The first time I ever heard the song was on Rockline two days after Mercury passed in 1991 when Axl Rose was the featured guest. He was so moved and inspired by Mercury that he asked the host to play this song. Inside the walls of the United Center, Queen tapped into the emotional core of the song in a way I never imagined. It was during this moment when Lambert wholly won me over. He's not Freddie Mercury and he's not trying to imitate him, but he captures his soul, his talent and his drive to inspire people. In the end, Lambert is deserving of not just your time and money, but your emotions as well. For the final thirty-minutes, the band hit one home run after another with the Godzilla sized hits "Tie Your Mother Down", "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", "Bohemian Rhapsody" (with video of Mercury singing the second verse), "We Will Rock You" and the rousing finale of "We Are the Champions". Each one of these hits was like a lightning bolt to the crowd, but "Radio Gaga" that left me an emotional mess.

"Radio Gaga" was one of the last Queen singles to chart here in America and they never toured behind The Works, so here we are thirty-years later and watching 17,000 hands clap in unison during the chorus gave me a chill up my back, goose bumps on my arms and watery eyes. Written by drummer Roger Taylor as a song how television overtook the radio that used to be the prime form of entertainment prior to the tube, it takes on a bit of twisted irony today considering how much has replaced music as a form as entertainment. As Lambert belted the song with all his might, he encouraged the crowd to raise their arms to the sky, which they did. The Mercury descendant commanded the audience like an arena pro eliciting responses he could only dream about a few years ago. For Roger Taylor and Brian May, this is something else; it is home. The concert stage is a sacred place they had to leave before their time was up. As the crowd watched Queen and Lambert embody this song they followed their lead and reached for the skies. Some of us lifted our arms to keep the beat, others to feel alive and free for a few fleeting moments but the majority lifted our arms in the hopes Mercury would see our signal above letting him know that "someone still loves you". This is the quintessence of Queen and its heart is still beating loud and proud. It may be too much for you to bear to hear these songs sung by someone other than Mercury, but I hope you brave it, because Queen + Adam Lambert is pure majesty.

Queen + Adam Lambert Set list at United Center in Chicago
(All songs sung by Adam Lambert except ****)

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****(Brian May)
'39**** (Brian May)
These Are the Days of Our Lives**** (Roger Taylor)
Under Pressure (Taylor and Lambert)
Love Kills
Who Wants to Live Forever
Guitar Solo
The Last Horizon
Tie Your Mother Down
Radio Gaga
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
The Show Must Go On
Bohemian Rhapsody
We Will Rock You
We Are the Champions


Photos in this review by Neal Preston

Anthony Kuzminski is a Chicago based writer and Special Features Editor for the antiMUSIC Network. His daily writings can be read at The Screen Door. He can be contacted at tonyk AT antiMUSIC DOT com and can be followed on Twitter

Queen + Adam Lambert Tour Opening Night
Rating:

Share this article
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Pin it Share on Reddit email this article

More articles for this artist .




advertisement

advertisement

News Reports
Day in Rock:
Metallica Plan 'Unique And Special' Grammy Performance- From First To Last Release First New Song With Skrillex In A Decade- Geoff Tate Insulted By Motley Crue Comparison- more

Iron Maiden Announce North American Summer Tour- Where Are The New Guns N' Roses and Nirvanas Asks Lars- Dashboard Confessional Release Surprise EP- Ghost- more

Bob Seger Giving Away Glenn Frey Tribute Song- Guns N' Roses Reunion Wasn't Motivated By Money- U2 Add Dates To The Joshua Tree Anniversary Tour- Black Sabbath- more

Day in Pop:
Meek Mill Wants Celeb Boxing Match With Drake?- Taylor Swift Teases Zayn Malik Collab In Birthday Message- Michael Jackson Comedy Pulled Following Protests- more

Jennifer Lopez Confirms Drake Collaboration- Lady Antebellum Stream New Single, Announce Album and Tour- Kanye West Course Coming To Washington University- more

Ed Sheeran Makes Billboard History With New Singles- Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban To Duet At The Grammys- Little Big Town Reveal New Details For 'The Breaker' Album- more

advertisement


Reviews

TBT: David Bowie Live In Chicago 2004

Michael Hornbuckle - Soul Repo

Saint Blasphemer - Simon Templar

David Bowie - Station To Station Remaster

Travel News, Trips and Tips: January 2017 Edition

The Blues: Big Jay McNeely - Blowin' Down the House: Big Jay's Latest & Greatest

Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska

The Blues: Popa Chubby - The Catfish

Tumbler - Come to the Edge

Butch Walker - Stay Gold Album of the Year

The Blues: The James Montgomery Blues Band

In Tribute: George Michael's Faith Deluxe Edition

RockPile: Spotlight on Steamhammer/SPV Records

TBT: David Bowie - Space Oddity 40th Anniversary Special Edition

Color You - The Grand Trine

Santa's Jukebox: Jazz Dispensary- Latin Christmas- Bon Qui Qui- more

Santa's Jukebox: Legacy Vinyl Edition

TBT: David Bowie's A Reality Tour

Fallen Asunder - Self-Titled

Holiday Gift Guide: Music DVD or Blu-ray Edition

Bassett - Ghost Hwy

TBT: The Cult, Stabbing Westward, Monster Magnet and Bird3 Live more

Rock News Stories
Metallica Plan 'Unique And Special' Grammy Performance (top story)

From First To Last Release First New Song With Skrillex In A Decade (top story)

Geoff Tate Insulted By Motley Crue Comparison (top story)

Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie Making Duets Album (top story)

Trent Reznor See Internet As 'Toxic Environment' For Music (top story)

Former Guns N' Roses Star Out Of Comfort Zone Without Duff (top story)

Graham Bonnet Regrets Quitting Rainbow (top story)

Thy Art Is Murder Reunion With CJ McMahon Speculation After Fest Jam (top story)

Stephen Pearcy Downplays Bobby Blotzer's Role In Ratt (top story)

Megadeth's Nick Menza Official Cause Of Death Filed With Court (top story)

Eagles of Death Metal Paris Attack Documentary Trailer Released (top story)

Sebastian Bach Speaks Out About Today's Music Approach (top story)

Guns N' Roses Mom Releasing 'Tell All' Book (top story)

Skid Row Making New Album, Confirm New Singer (top story)

Metallica Release Videos For Live Debut Of Two New Songs (top story)

Steely Dan Announce Las Vegas Residency (top story)

Joey Jordison Reflects On Illness That Cost Him Slipknot Gig (top story)

Zakk Wylde Releases 'Lost Prayer' Music Video (top story)

Eisley Stream New Song Featuring Circa Survive Frontman (top story)

Sex Pistols Frontman John Lydon Releasing Limited Edition Book (top story)

Emmure Announce New Album 'Look At Yourself', Release Teaser Video (top story)

Danny Worsnop Releases 'Don't Overdrink It' Video (top story)

Arcade Fire's The Reflektor Tapes Live Getting Digital Release (top story)

Crowbar and Superjoint Lead IX Lives For The Sick Lineup (top story)

more

B-Side Stories
Meek Mill Wants Celeb Boxing Match With Drake? (top story)

Taylor Swift Teases Zayn Malik Collab In Birthday Message (top story)

Michael Jackson Comedy Pulled Following Protests (top story)

James Corden Turns Kanye West Lyrics Into Soap Opera (top story)

David Bowie's 'Lazarus' Originally Involved Fake Bob Dylan Songs (top story)

Dierks Bentley Gets Personal With 'Black' Video (top story)

Zac Brown Band Announce North American Tour (top story)

Ed Sheeran Talks New Single 'Shape of You' (top story)

Jimmy Fallon and Kevin Bacon Put New Spin On Kinks Classic (top story)

Halsey Streams New Song 'Not Afraid Anymore' (top story)

A Tribe Called Quest Can't Think Of New Album Without Phife Dawg (top story)

Raekwon Reveals Some Details For 'New Album The Wild' (top story)

Chris Brown Vs. Soulja Boy Odds Revealed (top story)

Mike Tyson Releases Soulja Boy Diss Track 'If You Show Up' (top story)

Lil Wayne 'Tha Carter V' Track Clip Goes Online (top story)

Jamiroquai Announce First Headline Shows In Six Years (top story)

7-Year-Old Nails Taylor Swift Impersonation (top story)

Red Hot Chili Peppers and Imagine Dragons Lead Lollapalooza Paris (top story)

Idina Menzel Announces North American Tour (top story)

Dan + Shay Release 'How Not To' Video (top story)

Eric Church Played 37 Songs During Tour Kick Off (top story)

Steve Aoki and Louis Tomlinson To Play Late Night TV (top story)

Thomas Rhett Adds Dates To Home Team Tour (top story)

Selena Gomez Shares New Recording Studio Clips (top story)

Sigur Ros Announce Special Guests For Upcoming Shows (top story)

Brad Pitt Introduces Surprise Sting and Chris Cornell Jam (top story)

Property Brothers and Eric Paslay Release Music Video (top story)

The Chainsmokers Taking Their Moms To Grammy Awards (top story)

Jason Aldean Announces They Don't Know Tour (top story)

Ed Sheeran To Appear On 'Carpool Karaoke' (top story)

The Chemical Brothers Album Catalog Reissued On Vinyl (top story)

Gamble and Huff Tribute The Soul Survivors' Richie Ingui (top story)

Billy Currington Announces Stay Up 'Til The Sun Tour (top story)

Whisperin' Bill Anderson Extends North American Tour Plans (top story)

Twiztid Release 'Kill Somebody' Video (top story)

Trailer Park Boys Star Bubbles Goes EDM With Marc Mysterio (top story)

more



Follow Us:

Contact Us - Privacy - antiMusic Email - Why we are antiMusic

Copyright© 1998 - 2016 Iconoclast Entertainment Group All rights reserved.

Please click here for legal restrictions and terms of use applicable to this site. Use of this site signifies your agreement to the terms of use.