Published on theMusic.com.au, Mar 2018
Pic by Hugh Buttsworth
Queen + Adam Lambert
A low, eerie hum radiating from the stage as show time crawled near had a packed Perth Arena on edge and acting like they were in the midst of a heated Wild Cats match, co-ordinating Mexican waves and clapping in unison while whistles shot from all corners of the room.
The giant robot from the cover of News Of The World, Frank, burst through a screen at the stage’s front and, through clever visual effects, lifted the screen up to reveal vocalist Adam Lambert and guitar icon Brian May.
A verse of We Will Rock You collided with Hammer To Fall, which showcased the band’s trademark harmonies and the room was immediately filled with electricity.
Co-founder Roger Taylor kicked off a seizure-enduring rock/metal jam and it didn’t take long for Lambert to play the part in I Go Crazy, dishing up dizzying verses and soaring choruses.
Bassist Neil Fairclough ushered in gritty funk with Another One Bites The Dust, which had everyone shuffling along in time while Lambert proved he knew how to work a crowd by eliciting cheers with swagger-fuelled dance chops.
It was clear in Tie Your Mother Down and Fat Bottomed Girls that May’s guitar work was the real star of the show, but the other members of the band were giving the music legend a run for his money, and with two drummers (including Roger’s son, Rufus Tiger Taylor) unleashing a constant wall of noise, it was sometimes easy to forget Lambert was even on the stage.
That’s how well Lambert complements the songs; he draws focus when it’s required, but doesn’t take away from the iconic music.
After a solo onslaught, Killer Queen injected a dose of classy rock into the set, delving into the more quirky fringes of the band’s back catalogue. Gut-wrenching guitar and theatrical vocal melodies were elevated by Lambert rising from below the stage on an animatronic Frank head.
“Some of you might be thinking, ‘He’s no Freddie.’ No shit, because there will only be one rock god named Freddie Mercury,” Lambert said. “I’m a fan too, just like you, only up here in the gayest suit ever.”
Any hesitations about his position fronting Queen were put to rest with his pitch-perfect conviction of Don’t Stop Me Nowand the theatrical flair in Bicycle Race.
The OG crew then took the spotlight as Roger assumed lead vocal in I’m In Love With My Car and May stood front and centre dishing up more impressive leads – the intensity of which carried over into crowd favourite I Want It All.
May was then left to his own devices on a stool at the end of the runaway and had the audience instantly on his side by strumming his way into sing along, Waltzing Matilda.
“Now I know you can sing,” he said, kicking into intimate number Love Of My Life, which had the room in dead silence during its soft intro. “This is really the best possible use of an iPhone,” he joked to the flashlight illuminated room, sliding into another verse that had Mercury appear onscreen and sing along to spine-tingling effect.
One by one the rest of the band returned to the stage and before too long Roger was at the end of the runaway belting a gold and black kit to Somebody To Love and Crazy Little Thing Call Love next to May and Lambert.
It was then time for the Taylors to shine, as father and son went head to head in a stunning drum-off before the band returned for mega-hit Under Pressure.
Taylor was on fire during the latter half of the set, even going so far as to step out from behind the kit and assume the role of frontman for A Kind Of Magic. While his vocal chops weren’t the best of the night, the significance of watching him belt out its chorus next to May wasn’t lost anyone, and the “rock’n’roll royalty” duo proved exactly why they’re still going strong as they approach the band’s 50th anniversary.
The visuals kicked into overdrive as Frank returned and through more effective use of the screens across the stage, he lifted May into space to embark on a trippy and otherworldly one-man jam session that eventually found its way to Radio Ga Ga.
It wasn’t until the quirky call and response of Bohemian Rhapsody, featuring its iconic music video on the screens behind, that the importance of the evening and band’s legacy was truly felt; something amplified when May burst from a thick fog sporting a silver trench coat while shredding.
Mercury graced the screen one more time for a memorable crowd singalong that more than had the audience ready to scream the show out by the time Lambert returned, this time dressed like royalty for We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions. Queen delivered a truly spectacular experience with Adam Lambert that was equal parts classy tribute and epic rock show.