When I was told we were going to see Queen, I was pretty excited. As I imagine most people would be. When I was told that it was at the O2, I was a little bit hesitant. I may be in the minority, but often I feel that big arenas ruin music. I know they almost always ruin comedy (except this guy, he thrives in big arenas). Big outdoor arenas are different. Being at a festival is nothing like being in the O2, the vibe is completely different, often people have had at least a day of live music already and are brimming with sex drugs and rock and roll. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
Ok, so enough negativity. Let’s get on with an actual review of the show. We arrived early, and our three hours of queuing paid off, as we got a nice position at the end of the catwalk (which, for some reason was a weird bendy shape). Queen had no support act, which was actually a nice change. I mean, I like the idea of support acts, and often it gives you a chance to see some talented people – like these guys who toured with Paolo Nutini for a bit. But now and again, it is just nice to turn up and see the band you’ve paid to see.
It’s at this point I’ll mention that I’ve actually seen these guys before (unfortunately, still without Freddie – and though he died before I was born, so for me to see them with him would mean some serious wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff). I saw Queen with Adam Lambert at the Hammersmith Apollo in 2011, which was, if I’m not mistaken, their first tour together. Hence the smaller arena. the Hammersmith holds around 5000 max, contrasting with the 20,000 that can be squeezed into the O2.
The band ‘Queen + Adam Lambert’ consists of Brian May and Roger Taylor, the original guitarist and drummer respectively. Taylor’s son Rufus on drums, Spike Edney on keys, and Neil Fairclough on bass. Edney has been referred to as the ‘fifth member of Queen’ due to his extensive work with the band, which is pretty cool, because it means the only members the band are really missing are John Deacon and the one and only, Freddie Mercury.
It’s no secret that Adam Lambert has big boots to fill, being the new front man of Queen. I said this the first time I saw them, and my feelings where solidified on seeing them again, he’s not a replacement for Freddie. Yes, he’s doing Freddie’s job, yes, he’s doing it well, but in no way does it feel like he’s replacing him.
While on stage, all members are given a moment in the spotlight. During the show Lambert left for a couple of songs, which gave the rest of the band to move their equipment to the end of the catwalk, and do a couple of songs together, which almost had an acoustic feel to it, which gave a new dimension to the evening. Roger and Rufus had a drum battle, and then there was a bass battle, which, instead of being torturous and boring as drum solos often are, was actually good to listen to. The whole band left the stage at the start of Bohemian Rhapsody and let a recording of Freddie sing it on one of the big screens, which I thought was very touching. They also played some of Freddie’s vocals behind Brian May as he was singing Love of My Life.
Side note, I’d never really realised how much other band members are effected when a member dies. I mean, thankfully, all the modern bands I like have never lost a member, and all the older bands lost their members before I was even born, so it had always been the status quo that Freddie, Strummer, Lennon and Kobain were dead. But when I saw Brian May do a solo acoustic set in the middle of the Queen + Lambert gig in 2011, it hit me how much it would effect the rest of a band. You live with them while you’re on the road, you socialise with them, you open yourself up to them artistically, they get to see you at your worst and your best. Losing someone like that has got to hit you hard. He played The Show Must Go On, it was surprisingly emotional.
Anyway, back to the gig. Though Lambert left for a couple of songs he in no way was shy of the spot light. For Killer Queen he had a chaise longue brought to the end of the catwalk and sung the song while lying on it, which was a great touch.
At the end of the day, the set the played was fantastic, they honored Mercury, and gave every member a chance to shine – and oh, how they shone. They even manged to hype up the crowd, which isn’t an easy task when there’s 6 of you 20,000 of them, it’s your second night at that arena AND it’s a Sunday. So I’m glad I went, and would whole heartedily reccomend you go and see them before you die (or they do, for that matter).
Here are some photos.