There are a few people in life who are so skilled at what they do that you very quickly realise they deserve your respect. Adam Lambert is one of those people.
Before last night, I knew little of the 30-something American singer, save for the odd YouTube clip and the fact that he’d finished runner-up on American Idol. He is, however, a very special talent indeed.
I can’t profess to being the world’s biggest Queen fan. But, like many men of my age, I was bought up listening to their biggest hits on the way to the football in my dad’s car and I’m well aware of their deserved position at the very top table of British rock, so when the opportunity came up to see them in the flesh for the first time, I couldn’t really pass it up.
So, I entered the venue with an open mind but some uncertain expectations. By the end of the show, I was far from disappointed. Blown away is a more accurate term.
Arena music is a far cry from where it was 20 years ago. These days, bands simply can’t just turn up and go through the motions – the crowd demands a show in exchange for their coin and this is where Queen came into their own.
It can’t be doubted that their founding fathers Brian May and Roger Taylor have assembled a band as exceptionally talented as they are to do their back catalogue justice. It’s more that with Queen, it’s not just about the music, it’s the showmanship that goes with it… and they didn’t disappoint.
While nobody can replace their legendary late frontman Freddie Mercury, in Adam Lambert, they have unearthed a showman more than capable ensuring their legacy lives on.
No stranger to guyliner and with a fashion sense at the flamboyant extreme of the spectrum, Lambert slinked and slithered across every inch of the stage during the two hour show.
A natural performer with the voice to match, his masculine edge ensured that his brash and playful campness stayed just on the right of pastiche.
He was also extremely respectful to both the band’s material and it’s elder statesmen, Taylor and May, who were clearly having a blast working with a performer so adept at shouldering the responsibility of fronting one of the biggest names in music.
As for Taylor and May, there were a few moments – such as the instrumental in the raucous Tie Your Mother Down – when they really let go and you could see the chemistry between them which lifts Queen from being just another rock band into the chart-topping, stadium-filling juggernaut which was the mainstay of their career.
Mercury’s legacy was also reflected, with May duetting with a video of his pal in full pomp during Love of My Life, in the presence of Freddie’s mum, a long-time Nottingham resident who had front row seats last night.
As for the best moments, there were a few. The opener, One Vision, set the tone perfectly and the set’s early appearance of Fat Bottomed Girls was a masterstroke in audience manipulation, with Lambert getting everyone on their feet and singing. But the real hairs-on-the-back-of-your neck stuff came towards the end of the show.
Radio Ga Ga, Who Wants to Live Forever and, of course, Bohemian Rhapsody – complete with another virtual appearance from Freddie during the anthem’s final restrain, bought the show to a fitting climax, setting up a rousing finale of We Will Rock You and the sing-along We Are The Champions, before the performers took their bows, applause and exited stage left, to the strains of God Save the Queen.
It was a fitting finale for a bona fide member of rock’s Royal Family.