Queen + Adam Lambert

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Queen + Adam Lambert
Barclays Center
July 28, 2017
Review and photos by David Chiu

When two musical acts have a special kind of chemistry and bond together, it only makes sense to keep the momentum going. And that’s what Queen—featuring Brian May and Roger Taylor–and Adam Lambert have been doing since they joined forces a couple of years ago. And now they’re doing it again during this American summer tour for the first time since 2014. This time around, the two returned to New York City this past Friday, making a stop in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center (something that I, a native Brooklynite, would have never imagine Queen playing in my neck of the woods).

There’s nothing new for Queen to promote for this tour other than the fact that this year marks the 40th anniversary of the band’s classic album News of the World, best known for featuring two of the band’s legendary anthems, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions.” In fact, the robot immortalized by artist Frank Kelly Freas on the album art, makes an appearance as part of the elaborate guitar-shaped stage setting at the Barclays.

Opening with an abbreviated snippet of We Will Rock You, Queen and Lambert launched into two hours’ worth of nonstop hits. Of course the usual standbys were performed on this tour as well as the previous one: “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “Somebody to Love,” “Stone Cold Crazy,” “Fat Bottomed Girls,” “Radio Gaga,” and “I Want It All,” “Killer Queen,” “Under Pressure,” and “Love of My Life.” For this one, the band brought back several old chestnuts: the raunchy “Get Down Make Love,” “I’m in Love With My Car” (sung by the song’s composer Taylor), “Hammer to Fall,” “Bicycle Race,” “I Want to Break Free,” and the crowd favorite “Don’t Stop Me Now.” The only new that was performed was Lambert’s own “Two Fux” whose very elegant and melodically British sound sounds like something the late Freddie Mercury might have penned.

There were some surprising and poignant moments from the concert. For instance, the multilayered vocal intro to “Bohemian Rhapsody” was performed (“Is this the real life…”) albeit through tape and sung over by Lambert. That was the first time in memory that was ever done for the song throughout Queen’s live performances. Prior to performing “Under Pressure,” Taylor gave a shout out to the late David Bowie, the song’s original duet partner and co-writer. And Lambert paid tribute to May and Taylor as well, which was pretty classy; to the naysayers not sold on him, that he’s no Freddie Mercury, Lambert responded: “No shit.” Given the response to him from the fans, he’s proven those doubters wrong. Even without Mercury (who made brief cameos through the magic of videotape on “Love of My Life” and “Bohemian Rhapsody”), Queen’s sound still relied considerably on May’s dazzling, awe-inspiring guitar work and Taylor’s muscular drumming, as evident on their solo showcases. Meanwhile, Lambert’s incredible vocal range reveals a combination of swagger, flamboyance, soul, grit, and pomp befitting of the songs—one highlight being “Who Wants to Live Forever.”

Judging by the reaction of the fans at the Barclays who were showered with hits galore (there were folks in the nosebleed seats standing up and rocking out), this combination of Queen and Lambert hasn’t lost its edge. Whether it will lead to something longterm or a new studio album remains to be seen. But for now, it’s about legacy and fun, which this particular show on a summer Friday night delivered on both counts.

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Set list

We Will Rock You (teaser)
Hammer to Fall
Stone Cold Crazy
Another One Bites the Dust
Fat Bottomed Girls
Killer Queen
Two Fux
Don’t Stop Me Now
Bicycle Race
I’m in Love With My Car
Get Down, Make Love
I Want It All
Love of My Life
Somebody to Love
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Drum Battle
Under Pressure
I Want to Break Free
You Take My Breath Away (excerpt)
Who Wants to Live Forever
Guitar Solo (medley of Last Horizon/Brighton Rock)
Radio Ga Ga
Bohemian Rhapsody

Encore:

We Will Rock You
We Are the Champions
God Save the Queen

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3 thoughts on “Queen + Adam Lambert

  1. It’s sad the auto-tuned generation doesn’t know that ALL concerts used to be like this…that is to say live not lip-synched. These men are astonishing musicians and Adam Lambert is out of this world

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