Review: Queen and Adam Lambert at Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney, 21 February 2018
“I’m going to address the pink elephant in the room,” Adam Lambert announced to a sea of 10,000 fans at Qudos Bank Arena on Wednesday night, lights shining off his bedazzled hot pink suit.
“I know some of you are thinking, ‘He’s no Freddie Mercury.'”
“No Freddie? No shit.”
Lambert was quick to acknowledge the thoughts at the backs of everyone’s mind, mentioning it after the first three songs in a brief intermission.
While it’s understandable for Lambert to be cautious in trying to fill such massive boots, by this point in the night he had already proven himself a great fit, absolutely nailing the vocals of ‘Stone Cold Crazy’ and ‘Tie Your Mother Down’.
Not only did he have a commanding stage presence, his vocals effortlessly captured the range, power and spirit of Mercury’s; something that cannot be claimed lightly.
Opening by teasing 15 seconds of ‘We Will Rock You’, as if to preview the inevitable finale, they soon launched into ‘Hammer to Fall’, and by the time they got to ‘Stone Cold Crazy’ they were in full swing and had the audience in the palm of their hand.
Queen went on to plow through classics like ‘I Want To Break Free’, ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, ‘Radio Ga Ga’, ‘I Want It All’.
Sing-along icon ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was, unfortunately, marred by some technical issues during the classic guitar breakdown, but apart from this one fudgy moment, the band played flawlessly, going from strength to strength in their repertoire.
The lights display and strange antics were appropriately audacious. Massive rock endings, cocky struts from Lambert, lasers, moving screens, disco balls, and even a bike that rose up out of the stage which Lambert rode around while singing.
Costume and outfit changes were plentiful, with Brian May’s Gucci glitter sneakers being of particular note.
Speaking of May – the man can really do no wrong. The show was just as much as a tribute to him and his talents as it was to Queen’s legacy. Each song had a searing solo, and there were several moments of the show where May was the sole focus; either on a raised platform putting David Gilmour to shame, or having a quiet acoustic moment with the crowd, putting Bob Dylan to shame.
May and Roger Taylor – the two performing members of the original line up – are in their seventies and late sixties respectively and could be forgiven for not providing the stamina that would be expected of such a show.
However this was far from the case, and, if anything, the group grew more energised as the gig went on.
Taylor in particular seemed sluggish at first, then started to hold his own. It wasn’t until a drum solo and then a drum battle with the on-stage percussionist that Taylor really proved he still had the moves.
The night closed on ‘We Are The Champions’ and an explosion of confetti, with May and Lambert walking down the stage runway, arms slung in camaraderie. While an aura of authenticity was certainly lacking – and it did feel very much like a tribute show – the reality is that the performers weren’t trying to make it anything more than that.
Rather than recreate the past, the group wanted to put on a killer show and, in Lambert’s own words, have everyone ‘celebrate the life of Freddie.’
And every single person in that arena, including the band, did exactly that.