Lambert wins over any doubters with his reverent take on Queen classics at Seattle show.
It’s not often artists gets to live their own dream and keep someone else’s alive at the same time, so it was refreshing to see Adam Lambert and Queen attack the opportunity with zeal Saturday night at sold-out KeyArena.
Queen only has two original members left, guitarist Brian May and Roger Taylor, and it was these two pillars of rock history that most of the older crowd was there to see. The band opened with a thundering snippet of “We Will Rock You,” and used a blistering May guitar solo to transition smoothly into “Hammer to Fall,” reassuring the audience early and often that yeah, at 69 years old he’s still got it.
The partnership between Lambert and Queen has been going strong for five years, and the former “American Idol” runner-up’s elastic, laser-beam of a voice is a natural fit to fill the sonic void left by Freddie Mercury. While no one can ever truly replace the legendary, pioneering frontman, Lambert is good enough that it introduces an uncomfortable notion: were Mercury still alive and with the band, he would be 71 and it is unlikely they’d sound as vital as they do in their current form.
That thought was on no one’s mind as Lambert tore through a parade of hits including “Another One Bites the Dust,” off 1980’s “The Game,” and “Fat Bottom Girls,” which had the crowd roaring the lyrics in a raucous singalong.
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After whipping the crowd up, Lambert used a moment to catch his breath and acknowledge that he would never try to replace Mercury.
“I’m a fan just like you guys,” he said in a speech that would be lip service if not for the obvious care Lambert has for Queen’s catalog. That love was evident throughout the evening but was especially prominent on “Under Pressure,” which they dedicated to David Bowie, who contributed vocals to the 1982 hit.
With Taylor playing a second set of drums on the large catwalk that cut through the arena floor, Lambert circled the drums and locked eyes with him as they sang the duet. It was as intimate a moment as you can have playing rock music in an arena filled with thousands of people and showed the reverence Lambert has for his sexagenarian tourmates.
To no one’s surprise, Queen closed out the main portion of the show with two of their greatest hits, “Radio Ga Ga” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” As theatrical as much of Queen’s music is, “Bohemian Rhapsody” takes it to another level and in the wrong hands, it could end up seeming like parody or even karaoke but that was never a fear with Lambert, who won over any doubters by night’s end.
The band came back out for a few more, including “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions.” It was a triumphant way to end the evening.