As soon as I heard the announcement that the remaining members of Queen, Roger Taylor and Brian May, would be touring North America with Adam Lambert, I knew I wanted to go.
Jean was in Haiti at the time, but I took his Skype musings about how we might manage the logistics of attending as his willingness to go with me, and got us both tickets to the Toronto show. (Scene afterwards. Me: You said you’d go with me. Him: I did?)
And hey, don’t feel too bad for him, because he really does like Queen music, and has already attended and enjoyed numerous Queen tribute concerts with me. But this is the real deal. Or at least, as much of the real deal that is still willing and able to tour.
Jean, perhaps like many, is not as familiar with Adam Lambert, but I am pretty pleased with that half of the bill. Roger and Brian previously toured and recorded with another singer, Paul Rodgers. I could never get into that combination. Paul Rodgers is a very good singer, but in a very different way than Freddie Mercury. It just didn’t work for me.
Whereas Adam Lambert, while he most definitely (and wisely) interprets Queen songs in his own way, nevertheless shares vocal and performance qualities with Freddie—both are flamboyant, energetic, and have huge, operatic voices. Apparently, that is how I like Queen songs performed.
Adam Lambert first rose to prominence on American Idol, and while I learned this only recently, his audition song was, in fact, “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
(“That’s the best singer we’ve heard all week,” said Paul Abdul.)
And though I never watched American Idol—not even that season, when Brian May and Roger Taylor appeared on it—I do remember hearing about Adam then: how well he did with the Queen material, the shock that he didn’t actually win in the end. Here he and the eventual winner (a Kris Allen, who doesn’t appear to have had such a stellar career afterwards) perform “We Are The Champions” with Brian and Roger.
Adam has had a pretty decent career as a solo artist, and I am personally a great fan of his 2009 single, “Whataya Want From Me”:
But the Queen guys stayed in touch, too, and they’ve done some one-off shows together (like in The Ukraine, apparently), and including a big iHeartRadio concert in Las Vegas that was also streamed on YouTube. I watched the entire thing, and was just so impressed at how good Adam Lambert was in performing those songs. Really. (You can still find the whole thing on YouTube, but below is just one song.)
Hence, very little hesitation in getting tickets to this show. Naturally, it’s at a hockey arena, and while I recognize if there ever was an arena rock band, Queen is that band, I’m still not enamoured of sports stadiums as music venues. (Scene continued. Him: Did you get good seats, at least? Me: Not really. Him: Why not? Me: There are no good seats at a hockey arena.)
In practical terms, I never really had an opportunity to see the original Queen line-up. They did their last North American tour in 1982, when I still a bit young to be travelling from Timmins to Toronto for a rock concert. Queen did their last tour in 1986, when I still a bit poor to be travelling to Europe or South America for a rock concert. So my only option has been seeing the remaining members (bassist John Deacon has retired from performing) with some other front man on vocals.
As that other front man, Adam Lambert is a great choice. Rock on!