Queen + Adam Lambert
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane QLD
February 13th, 2020
Let’s begin this review with a fun little fact about this reviewer (so you can get an understanding of my history with Queen). Some of my earliest memories associated with the band involve driving from Brisbane to Ipswich in the early 90’s with the family belting out songs like ‘Under Pressure‘, ‘Bicycle Race‘, ‘Fat Bottomed Girls‘, ‘Somebody to Love‘ and, of course, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘ so you can imagine how I felt walking in the gates at Suncorp Stadium, ready to see the band that somewhat shaped my appreciation for rock music from a very early age. Now I’m 32, which means I was way too young to see the icon that was Freddie Mercury live back in the day, and I’ve personally had a lot of reservations in recent years about Adam Lambert fronting the band in his place, so I had to get along to the tour this time around to see it all for myself and create my own judgement call on the show and their decision to continue on but with all of that said, this is what I thought…
The evening kicked off with torrential rain (which didn’t stop for the entire show) but let me tell you this, when you’re standing in close proximity to the stage with hundreds of other fans, head to toe in ponchos, nothing else mattered when the stage lit up and the band walked out amidst a sea of cheers and kicked off their 29 song set with the ever so fitting ‘Now I’m Here‘. Guitarist Brian May strolled about the stage like he owned the joint with Roger Taylor bashing away on the kit and the main man in purple, Mr Adam Lambert singing along with the crowd. For the initial first few songs, I found Adam’s vocal performance to be a bit soft compared to the stories I had heard from previous years, but as the night progressed he filled the position of frontman very impressively (more on that soon). Following on from this we had ‘Seven Seas of Rhye‘ and ‘Keep Yourself Alive‘ with Adam stopping to address the crowd and tell us all how thankful he was to be fronting the band, but that there would only be “One Freddie Mercury” and he would never take his place, instead he wanted everyone to sing along with him and celebrate the man/band and I personally think that was a fantastic power play from the vocalist/members. Die hard fans know this and the iconic frontman can NEVER be replaced, but getting that out early into the show made me lose all reservations I had about Adam Lambert fronting and made me open up and enjoy the show a bit more than expected.
‘Killer Queen‘ got us all singing along and ‘Don’t Stop Me Now‘, while slowed down in tempo compared to their album release, showcased the band still nailing one of their ultimate fan favourites (shout out to the Shawn of the Dead fans who loved that scene it was used in). This was also the last song where Adam Lambert‘s vocal issues were present and being one of my favourite songs from Queen, I still felt like I got a great viewing experience watching Brian May shred on that guitar solo. ‘I’m in Love With My Car‘ had Roger Taylor singing away whilst playing with Adam completely disappearing from sight, only for him to rise up from beneath the stage in front of us on a spinning motorbike for a sing-a-long inducing (but) shortened version of ‘Bicycle Race‘. His elegance oozed with charisma (akin to that of Mr Mercury) and those of us lucky to get a front row show were in awe. ‘Fat Bottomed Girls‘ was up next and you better believe all of us started belting out the harmonies together. The sky opened up and bucketing rain came down during ‘Another One Bites The Dust‘ and ‘I Want It All‘ but the band progressed on without fail, as did the crowd, tightening our ponchos and raincoats a little tighter and ever so slightly moving closer to the person beside us for warmth.
The next part of the show was incredible. Brian May strolls out to a section of the stage (under a plastic cover out of the rain) for a stripped-back performance of ‘Love of My Life‘ complete with lights from mobile phones lighting up the entire stadium. I’ve been to many shows before that do this, but I’ve never seen human-made constellations made up by smartphones around the entirety of Suncorp Stadium. It was a spectacle made ever so special by the appearance of Freddie Mercury on-screen for the song’s climax. A heartfelt nod to the legend that had us all feeling wholesome as hell. Roger and Adam joined Brian for ‘Doing All Right‘ before the trio, complete with a small little set up of drum kit and guitar (Adam sporting an umbrella) kicked off ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love‘, in the middle of the rain (which at this point didn’t seem to bother anyone) and, not gonna lie, for this next part I did lose my shit momentarily when the trio (with backing band on the bigger stage too) started belting out my go-to favourite track ‘Under Pressure‘. I’ve seen so many renditions of this song over the years (from many different bands), but never by members of the actual band who originally recorded it and it was so special singing along, reflecting on those years growing up with the family whilst watching these rock icons play it out live in the flesh.
A couple of covers made their way into the set with Led Zeppelin‘s ‘Whole Lotta Love‘ and Elvis‘ ‘Heartbreak Hotel‘ getting a crack (Zeppelin was GREAT, Elvis, ehh not so much) but they were back on track with their own classics like ‘Somebody to Love‘ and ‘I Want To Break Free‘ resulting in what seemed like the majority of the standing area singing and swaying along. I took a seating break (as did a few others) during ‘Who Wants To Live Forever‘ which barely lasted the few minutes the song played out for before we were all back on our feet for Dr. Brian May‘s “out of this world” guitar solo, which had the shred master on a rising platform (with an asteroid on the screen in front of him) raising him into the air surrounding by low hanging planets and visuals on the LED screens across the stage set up like a trip through outer space. I knew Brian was more than just a guitarist for the band (being an Astrophysics, this stage show seemed much more fitting knowing that info prior), but seeing him play like that really got me thinking how you don’t see many new-age bands just having a shred/jam during their shows. Keeping in mind, this was a two-hour performance (with plenty of costume changes throughout), but it was great to just sit and watch him do this thing momentarily and gaze in awe at this musical legend. Once he returned to earth…err I mean the stage, ‘Tie Your Mother Down‘ and ‘Radio Ga Ga‘ followed (complete with the chorus claps heard across the venue) before everything went quiet and dark on stage before the opening lines of ‘IS THIS THE REAL LIFE, IS THIS JUST FANTASY” signalled it was time for the greatest sing-a-long anthem of all time to play out and at this moment, the phones came out, the poncho hoods were dropped and everyone (and I mean everyone) gave their all as Adam Lambert shared singing duties with Freddie’s vocal recording (playing via backup tape) up on a rising stage section. During the “Mamaaaaa ooooohhhh” section, I couldn’t even hear him due to the sheer mass of punters belting out the lyrics at the same time. It was a sight for sore (and wet) eyes, but damn we sang the shit out of that song! It’s hard to pick apart such a classic anthem like that, but the one gripe I had during the “I see a little silhouetto of a man” section, was that the band had stopped playing and we were singing along with the screen visuals from the music video. It’s only a little thing, but I would have loved to see the whole song performed live. However, Brian did make up for it when he came back and played his wet/sore fingers out with the guitar section to wrap the song up. I have to say, hands down, this was Adam’s peak performance of the night too. He was loud, hit those high notes and owned the stage like he belonged there. By this point, I think a lot of us were more than welcoming to see him up there with the lads. The song ended, the lights went out and the cheering and applauding began. We knew this wasn’t the end, but if it was, I’m sure a lot of us would have been happy regardless.
The Encore of the evening kicked off with Freddie Mercury‘s infamous ‘Ay‐Oh‘ chant/play around with the crowd from the band’s Wembley performance from way back in 1986 (a year before I was born mind you, sorry for reminding you how old you are haha) but seeing the main man on screen and the crowd singing along with him, laughing at the same time as if he was right there with us was incredible. He may be very long gone, but Queen have made sure Freddie’s legacy has been kept alive with them ever since his passing. The drumbeat started playing out for this next song and we all knew what we were in for as Queen + Adam Lambert started their wrap up with ‘We Will Rock You‘ and can I just say, hearing that guitar riff at the end of the song live, will go down in history as one of my fav moments in live music. Going from hearing it on vinyl, to CD (and I’m pretty sure cassette) during my life, NOTHING compared to hearing it live in the flesh! ‘We Are The Champions‘ saw out the evening with swaying bodies in the crowd, mobile phone lights from the fans in the nosebleeds and every, single, person, singing along. It was an absolutely mesmerising way to wrap up my first ever Queen concert and a moment I’ll treasure for the rest of my life. The band took their place on stage, taking a bow, before walking off and out of our lives yet again… until next time!
In closing, the torrential downfall couldn’t dampen the spirits of the thousands upon thousands of fans who braved the relentless rain for the entirety of the band’s set, singing along to every word they knew and celebrating one of the greatest (and most successful) rock bands to ever walk the face of the earth. I was hesitant to go along a first, but I’m glad I did, this is a show for everyone, of every generation, to come together and celebrate some amazingly talented musicians and the legacy they’ve built along the way.
Bravo Queen and Adam Lambert…
Now I’m Here
Seven Seas of Rhye
Keep Yourself Alive
Hammer to Fall
Don’t Stop Me Now
In the Lap of the Gods… Revisited
I’m in Love With My Car
Fat Bottomed Girls
Another One Bites the Dust
I Want It All
Love of My Life
Doing All Right
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin Cover)
Heartbreak Hotel (Elvis Cover)
Somebody to Love
I Want to Break Free
Who Wants to Live Forever
Tie Your Mother Down
Radio Ga Ga
Ay‐Oh (with Freddie on the big screen)
We Will Rock You
We Are the Champions
Gig Review by Paul ‘Browny’ Brown @brownypaul
Queen + Adam Lambert
Queen + Adam Lambert – Australian Tour 2020
Feb 15th @ ANZ Stadium, Syd
19th Feb @ AAMI Park, Melb
20th Feb @ AAMI Park, Melb
23rd Feb @ Optus Stadium, Perth
26th Feb @ Adelaide Oval, Adel
29th Feb @ Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast
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