LIVE: QUEEN with Adam Lambert, Perth – 6 Mar, 2018

LIVE: QUEEN with Adam Lambert, Perth – 6 Mar, 2018
Perth Arena, Tuesday, 6 March, 2018
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Photography by Stuart McKay

A couple of oppressively stinking hot and sweaty days did nothing to dampen Perth’s enthusiasm for the return of the mighty Queen – now, effectively, Brian May and Roger Taylor – with Adam Lambert, and a sold out Arena were anxious from the scheduled start time of 8:15, cheering Mexican waves and handclapping their readiness whilst atmospheric music set the mood.

Suddenly the house lights dimmed and an impressive and innovative video/lighting rig showed us the giant robot from the cover of the News Of The World album, as re-purposed by artist Frank Kelly Freas from his original sci fi story painting. The robot, dubbed Frank by the band, impressively ‘lifted’ the lighting rig above the stage, allowing the band to burst into song.

The ongoing half of Queen have worked with a handful of singers over the years since the great Freddie Mercury died and bassist John Deacon retreated from any kind of public life. It’s no stretch to say that their short collaboration with George Michael was the best fit in Freddie’s wake, so it’s no surprise that Adam Lambert – a veteran of American Idol – has more than a little of the young, brash Michael about him.

Lambert starts a little slow tonight, focusing too much energy on posturing during an intro snippet of We Will Rock You, but soon comes good and lets his impressive vocal range have his full attention through Hammer To Fall and Stone Cold Crazy.

With May and Taylor now running the show, it’s a rock-heavy – even hard rock-heavy – set list, and there’s no mistaking the unique guitar sound of May’s (courtesy of his handmade-from-a-fireplace Red Special) and Taylor’s pounding drums (even if he has some assistance in this department – but more of that later.)

The lighting must have been designed by a troubled teen with AHHHDD – they hyperactively throw every bell, whistle, trick in the book AND the kitchen sink at the audience, bombarding us relentlessly with lights, lasers, strobes, and more.

Practically every song is a classic (even Lambert’s 2009 top ten single and Grammy nominated Whataya Want From Me, written by PiNK, Max Martin and Shellback, is overly plain in this exalted company), and there were handfuls more they could have easily played to the same response.

The disco bass line of Another One Bites The Dust is unmistakably funky; an accapella intro to Fat Bottomed Girls – Lambert exhorting “all my fat ass bitches” to “get on your bikes and ride,” proving that whilst heavily influenced by Mercury, he’s no mere imitator, and he camps it up even more through Killer Queen, dolled up like Liberace atop Frank’s robot head, giving it the full gay cabaret schtick.

Lambert endears himself to the crowd with a short, respectful speech about his predecessor – for some, the only vocalist allowed to sing these songs. “I know there’s some people out there saying, ‘well he ain’t no Freddie Mercury!’”

“Promise me that you AND me will celebrate Freddie and Queen together tonight?” he pleads, evoking a huge roar and a few notches up the respect ladder.

One would imagine that Freddie would have firmly embraced the more open sexual attitudes we enjoy now, some 27 years after his passing from AIDS-related illness, and Lambert’s flamboyance, confidence to embrace his effeminancy, and risqué jokes would certainly have tickled the late singer. A hot pink tricycle highlights Bicycle Race, and Lambert isn’t shy to ride it around the stage with his microphone on a specially built stand on the handlebars. It’s absurd, but it works – the band are obviously having a ball, and the music never descends from rock and roll to cabaret.

May’s guitar playing befits the rock legend that he his – riffs are raunchy, solos shred, and he walks up and down the crowd ramp repeatedly, getting close to as many as he can. Perched on a stool at the end of the runway he plays Waltzing Matilda solo on an acoustic guitar, the crowd singing for him, before Love Of My Life turns into a duet with Freddie via video, sending chills through the crowd.

May and Lambert – still at the end of the runway – start Somebody to Love as a gorgeous ballad, before Taylor thunderously joins them on a second drumkit, following it with the rockabilly cool of Crazy Little Thing Called Love. There’s a ‘drum battle’ between Taylor and percussionist/backup drummer Tyler Warren, before the drummer duets with Lambert on Under Pressure, then takes lead singer duties for A Kind Of Magic, which, to be fair, was a little flat despite some great ‘80s graphic effects on the screen.

I Want To Break Free was surprisingly UNcampy, before Lambert nailed the ballad Who Wants To Live Forever with some truly impressive vocals and a room chockablock full of lasers, then it was May’s turn to play a suitably astral solo partly lifted from Now I’m Here, with video Frank appearing to lift the keen astrologer into the cosmos with his robotic (video) hand.

With no-one else needing impressing, all that was left for the band was Radio Ga Ga – including the video clip handclapping, and Bohemian Rhapsody – Freddie’s masterpiece getting all the grandeur and ecstatic response it deserves, even with (or partly because of) the central operatic section appearing by video from 1975.

Are we getting an encore? We Will and We Are – of course. A short video of Freddie conducting a live ‘day-oh’ singalong restarts the show, before the forever entwined We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions, May in a Freddie t-shirt, Lambert in gold satin robe and sparkling crown, ending a simply spectacular show in grand style.

After more than five years together Lambert and Queen are obviously a match made in heaven, but the lack of new material means that, for now at least, they will remain a heritage act only, which is a bit of a shame. Mind you, with the Queen + Paul Rodgers album The Cosmos Rocks a far less than worthy addition to their catalogue, maybe they will prefer to stick with the tried and tested hits.

There’s no denying that so rarely are we spoilt with a show where the crowd simply don’t want to stop singing and cheering – the sheer pace of the night leaving us exhausted. Every ounce of the abundant pomp and circumstance of this event – as much a spectacle as just about any we’ve seen – was lapped up by the audience, with everyone walking out feel that Queen & Lambert had made the show about as intimate and interactive as a few guys can for around fifteen thousand people.

Set List:

We Will Rock You (intro)
Hammer to Fall
Stone Cold Crazy
Tie Your Mother Down
Another One Bites the Dust
Fat Bottomed Girls
Killer Queen
Don’t Stop Me Now
Bicycle Race
I’m In Love With My Car
Get Down, Make Love
I Want It All
Waltzing Matilda (May solo)
Love of My Life
Somebody to Love
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Drum Battle
Under Pressure
A Kind Of Magic
Whataya Want From Me (P!nk cover)
I Want to Break Free
Who Wants to Live Forever
Guitar Solo
Radio Ga Ga
Bohemian Rhapsody

Day-Oh 9 (video)
We Will Rock You
We Are the Champions
God Save the Queen (via tape)

LIVE: QUEEN with Adam Lambert, Perth – 6 Mar, 2018

Filed Under: Live ReviewsPhoto Galleries

About the Author: Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

RSSComments (3)

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  1. Queen of the underworld says:

    Very good review. One big correction needed : whata you want from me is an Adam Lambert song, a global hit and officially released by Adam Lambert on his first album For Your Entertainment. It was written by Max Martin, Shellback and Pink. If she decided to sing it and include it post fame in an album of hers, good for her.

  2. Shane says:

    Thankyou so much for the correction – I will update immediately! Apologies for the error.

  3. Trisha says:

    What a great review! I’ve seen this same tour show numerous times & it never gets old. From their first official tour concert in Chicago in 2014 to this latest one in Perth the most common comment on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. is “Best Concert I’ve Ever Been To.” It’s the songs, the musicianship, the vocals, and the energy. Thanks for being one of those critics who “get it.”

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