Never before have so few done so much with so little. Queen are simply not a very good band saved from obscurity by the ashtrays of emotion that was Freddie Mercury and a firm grasp on maybe half a dozen indelible songs. Queen was what you got when Mercury added Liberace to Elvis Presley and their best songs were operatic flamboyance added to 50s rock and roll, performed by a UK heavy metal band from the 70s. Head banging with flair.
On Thursday night, guitarist Brian May lead Queen and Adam Lambert through a 150 minute slog through the bands repertoire and looked, for all who chose to look, like the vision of a truly mediocre band lead by an American Idol finalist seriously out of his depth. The interminable set floundered through deep album track, 15 minute guitar solos, truly pathetic singalongs, two (count em) times when film of Freddie Mercury was used, and not one second where the sum was close to the parts, even when the parts weren’t half as good as they should have been.
Opening with two tracks off Sheer Heart Attack before busting out “Another One Bites The Dust”, Lambert is immediately a problem. He isn’t bad but much like his career, which should have lead him to superstardom, he isn’t good enough to carry a band, certainly not this one. I can thing of very few people who are, though George Michael in his prime comes to mind, but Adam, a friend called him “swishy” and while that may be considered sexually pejorotive it isn’t a bad description. What Mercury and Michael’s have that Lambert doesn’t, as a front man, is an uber-masculity. Lambert tries to push it, and he has a great voice, but it isn’t quite enough; he lacks star appeal. When Lambert arrives on stage there is no rush of excitement and a call and response to “gimme it” goes on forever and sucks any way: instead of swaying us with style, he plays games. Are they trying to fill time so they don’t have to pay an opening act? Doesn’t he know how it is done?
Adam isn’t karoake, he can perform, he can really move when he wants to, but he is a cliched frontman and he can’t come close to doing what the rest of Queen need him to do.He can’t lead them. Lambert keeps on genuflecting, he is too honored to be there. It is left to Brian May and Brian May? C’mon, BRIAN MAY??? He looks like Uriah Heeps older brother, he has that English deprecation (you know: Chris Martin uses the same humility all the time) and while he is a good guitarist, with a good ear and he can improvise from a melody line, like they do in jazz, he has zero charisma and looks silly playing rock god. Roger and son Rufus are OK except for the solo, but the band sound like Rush. They are undressed and revealed as -ta dah- prog rockers. Didn’t punk bury these mothers decades ago?
Nice stage, great closed circuit TV, wonderful sound, Mercury woulda loved the 21st Century, he was born for it, and a draaaaaag of a set. Long dull waits for the hits and for such an important band there aren’t that many. Five? Six? The “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a blown opportunity way too fussy mix of tapes and live vocals, the finishing end “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions” weren’t good enough, “Crazy Little Thing” was Lambert’s finist moment because it was his simplest moment, and the entire enterprise reminded me as to why I was never close to a Queen fan.
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