Replacing a lead singer is one of the trickiest manoeuvres in rock, never mind replacing the irreplaceable.
Queen + Adam Lambert - Hydro, Glasgow
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Since the passing of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in 1991, the band’s remaining founder members Brian May and Roger Taylor, now chief custodians of the Queen legacy, have dodged that dilemma by employing guest vocalists, not to impersonate their late frontman but to keep the music (a)live.
With his Broadway and reality TV background, American Idol alumnus Adam Lambert may not be the cred choice of Mercury proxy. But he is the shrewd choice, in that he is as comfortable flaunting the flamboyant theatricality of the material as delivering some seriously impressive vocal operatics, even adding some male diva melisma to the package.
Out and proud where Mercury was chary about his sexuality, Lambert is a natural showman who appears undaunted about stepping into such towering shoes. Frankly, Queen are lucky to have him.
But although the early part of the set was studded with regal gems such as the panther prowl of Another One Bites The Dust, gleefully lusty anthem Fat Bottomed Girls and a gloriously camp Killer Queen delivered while reclining on a chaise longue, Lambert had to work hard to rouse the crowd, finally breaking the ice with a barnstorming, skyscraping Somebody To Love.
There was already love to spare for May and Taylor, who took their turns in the solo spotlight. The former – camera fixed on his guitar, the better to capture his fretboard action and film the fans – had the vocal backing of the audience on a tender acoustic version of Love Of My Life, which was spliced with archive footage of Mercury singing the song, while Taylor was bolstered in his rhythmic efforts by his son Rufus, a flay off the old block, and duetted with Lambert on the righteous Under Pressure.
Lambert further showed off his stylistic range on Who Wants To Live Forever, a potentially hokey number, yet beautifully rendered with soaring control, flaunted his rock chops on Tie Your Mother Down and made his contribution to Bohemian Rhapsody sound so effortless, while deferring to some more Freddie footage, saluting the screen like a fan.
He certainly earned that camp crown he wore in the encore, while helming the fist-pumping We Will Rock You (with bagpiped intro) and a mighty We Are The Champions.
Seen on 14.01.15