Upon entering the Manchester Arena, there were no doubts about it that we were in for a spectacular show, based on the set up alone; a screen displaying ‘Queen & Adam Lambert’ in huge letters and a stage with a runway shaped as the neck and head-stock of a guitar. Queen currently consist of two original members; Brian May and Roger Taylor, and based on their last UK tour in 2015, we’re already confident that they’ve found a wonderful front man in American Idol’s Adam Lambert.
As the lights went out, Frank, the animated robot that adorns the ‘News of the World’ cover burst out of the screen, unveiling the band as they teased the crowd with a partial performance of ‘We Will Rock You’. After the exhilarating opener, ‘Hammer To Fall’, the band revisited the 70s for the next couple tracks; ‘Stone Cold Crazy’ which proved Lambert’s competence as a vocalist early on, and crowd favourite ‘Tie Your Mother Down’.
Addressing what he refers to as “the elephant in the room”, Lambert told the crowd that he knew what they were thinking; “he’s no Freddie”, followed by a sigh, the cock of his eyebrow and the words “no shit”. Having chosen ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ as his audition song for American Idol back in 2009, it’s clear to see that Lambert is a Queen fan, so it was no surprise to hear him express his admiration for original front-man, Freddie Mercury, receiving rapturous applause in response to his ask that the crowd help him to celebrate Freddie’s life. Lambert has a magnificent stage presence and his vocals glided through each and every track with ease, including a stunning version of ‘I Want It All’ and his emotive interpretation of ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’ that triggered tears and goose bumps from the front to the back of the arena. His expressive nature is wonderful and when he wasn’t evoking laughter from the crowd with his facial expressions and tongue in cheek jokes, he was confidently strutting up and down the runway with an arrogance that Freddie would have applauded.
Though of course it’s not just Lambert’s talents that shine brightly and the chants of “Brian Brian Brian” echoing around the arena tell you all that you need to know about one of greatest guitarists of all times performance, as he played the riffs and melodies that have enriched so many people’s lives. One of the most poignant moments of the night lay in the hands of May as he strolled to the top of the walkway alone, where he played two songs acoustically; ‘Leaning on a Lamppost’ by George Formby (in tribute to his Father) and ‘Love of My Life’; which saw Freddie sing the last few lines via a video of him that was displayed on the screens. An icon that is sadly gone, but will never be forgotten and will forever live on through the music of Queen.
Interestingly, it wasn’t just Lambert and May that handled the vocals and an incredibly theatrical rendition of ‘Bicycle Race’ that saw Lambert ride a pink tricycle, ended with Taylor performing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ B Side ‘I’m in Love With My Car‘ from behind his drum kit. Later on, the instantly recognisable bass line of ‘Under Pressure’ kicked in, courtesy of bassist Neil Fairclough and the duet was tackled by Taylor and Lambert. Though alongside his epic drum battle with additional drummer, Tyler Warren, what was arguably Taylor’s most memorable moment of the night was when he took charge of ‘A Kind of Magic’, adding an element of rawness to the track with his raspy vocals.
When it came to the end of the show, based on the mass amount of arms in the air during ‘Radio Ga Ga’ and ‘We Will Rock You’ alone, the band had lived up their reputation as one of the best live bands in the world. ‘We Are The Champions’ brought the night to an almighty end, with Lambert deservedly draped in a cape and crown. The band took their bows in a heart-warming moment that highlighted the mutual respect that they all share on the stage, and it’s ‘A Kind of Magic’ that they’ve found such a talented front man to join the Queen family, enabling them to pay homage to both their legacy and Freddie’s memory, on stage each night. Don’t stop them now.