The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world




AUGUST 22 2014

To many Queen without Freddie may be unthinkable, but tonight as Queen + Adam Lambert opened their Australian Tour a whole new legion of fans, we got to see that not only is music like this timeless, but it can also withstand the biggest of changes. We must admit when we saw Lambert's name we had our misgivings, but you know what? After two hours plus of Queen and Adam Lambert we think even Freddie would have approved...

SETLIST: QUEEN + ADAM LAMBERT Perth Concert Hall. Western Australia 22.8.2014

Procession | Now I'm Here | Stone Cold Crazy | Another One Bites the Dust
Fat Bottomed Girls | In the Lap of the Gods... Revisited | Seven Seas of Rhye
Killer Queen | Somebody to Love | I Want It All | Love of My Life | '39
These Are the Days of Our Lives | Bass Solo | Drum Battle | Under Pressure
Dragon Attack | Who Wants to Live Forever | Guitar Solo | Tie Your Mother Down
Vocal Solo | I Want to Break Free | Radio Ga Ga | Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Bohemian Rhapsody

We Will Rock You | We Are the Champions | God Save the Queen

“That was the concert against which all else will be measured. 

Just flawless.

There are bands, there are big bands, there are 'the best bands on the planet', and there are the legends and the superstars...

And then there is Queen.”

That was my Facebook post after witnessing Queen tear it up at the Perth Arena last Friday.

Right from the off you knew this was going to be something special. The huge Queen logo emblazoned on the massive Kabuki drop cloth hiding the stage immediately reminded you that Queen only ever do anything one way: BIG!

Of course we all had questions. Do they still have it? Are original members, Brain May and Roger Taylor, now both in their mid 60’s, still up for a two hour show? And the big one: Will Adam Lambert do Freddie justice?

You could tell Freddie was very much on people’s minds. Local celebrity and Freddie Mercury devotee and impersonator, Thomas Crane, looking very much the part ramped up the vibe with an impromptu “Day Oh” call and response from his seat which the crowd enthusiastically responded to. So much so that one of the alert lighting crew brought a spotlight to bare so all could see.

To me there was the feeling that the entire show was an homage and a great paying of respect to Mr Mercury. As excitement built, the house music was replaced with the last track from the last Queen album, the posthumously released ‘Made In Heaven’. Track 13 as it is known is a long ambient track which some have postulated is a final goodbye to/from Freddie.

And then the house lights fell, the crowd rose and Queen exploded in to our eyes, ears and hearts. The Arena filled with the unmistakable tone of Brian May’s famous Red Special as ‘Procession’ from Queen II announced their arrival. Queens attitude to live performance has always been, and I’m quoting both Brian and Roger here, ‘First, blind and deafen, slow and thoughtful ramping up to blind deafen them again with the closing; generally leave them speechless.’ And did they what!

With the Kabuki cloth still in place the powerful strains of ‘Now I’m Here’ burst forth. Clever use of lighting and video screens introduced us to Adam’s silhouette as we got the first taste of his voice and then BAM! Blinders, drums, the Kabuki gets whisked away upwards at lighten pace and it’s on for young and old.

Queen have always prided themselves on immaculately crafted shows that really are a theatrical presentation of their music. This show was no different. The audio was stunning, the light show magnificent and highly effective, the set list (see above) rode our emotions to climax after climax, the stage crew were military like in their precision in the setting up and removal of props and gear. It was two solid hours of what a rock concert should be.

And so to the questions:

Do they still have it? In spades! The band were musically immaculate. Joined by Roger’s son Rufus Tiger Taylor on Drums, percussion and vocals, Neil Fairclough on Bass and vocals and long-time keyboardist and Musical Director Spike Edney the band were highly polished, super tight and the harmonies to die for.
Are Roger and Brian still up for a two hour show? Heck yeah! Man they could have gone all night. Roger has lost nothing as a drummer or vocalist. He was joined by son Rufus for a highlight drum battle and sang beautiful lead vocal on ‘These Are The Days Of Our Lives’.

Brian can still shred with the best of them, his tone is incredible, he’s smart, funny and engaging and completely genuine. His invitation to the crowd to sing ‘Love Of My Life’ with him to Freddie was straight from the heart.

And finally: Will Adam do Freddie justice? Yes. Unequivocally yes. Is he Freddie? No he’s not. He doesn’t have to be and he didn’t try to be. He’s Adam Lambert and he’s a perfect fit. He’s flamboyant, charismatic, deliciously sexy and funny. His voice has to be heard to be believed. Range to burn, rich tone and I believed every word he sang. Apart from Freddie I can think of no one else who could pull off ‘Killer Queen’ draped over a chez lounge with a bottle of Moet in one hand and wearing six inch heels. He has a deep understanding of the theatrical and a deep respect for the music. And above all he has fun.

I don’t want to go in to a song by song description as I’d prefer you went along yourself but every album was represented. So many highlights. Brian’s guitar solo, the highly emotive ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’, the bass solo by Neil which skilfully wove many of the groove bass lines from ‘Hot Space’ together, Roger’s solo and drum battle, the acoustic set out the front, the beginning, the middle and the end.

I think the final and perhaps unvoiced question is: Is the legacy of Freddie safe? Is it in good hands?
Answer: Absolutely. You could tell the whole band were so conscious and respectful of Freddie. There were some truly touching moments where they paid their respects to him and even had him singing parts of songs and appearing on the video screens. The legacy is completely safe.

For me the most subtle of gestures came at the end of the show. As the band launched into the expected ‘We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions’ encore out walked Adam in a stunning gold sparkly suit and wearing a crown. Now those who have seen Queen with Freddie will know at this point in the show he would stride out trailing a long ermine cape and wearing a crown. The crown he traditionally brought out was the Queen’s crown, a replica of that worn by the Queen of England and he was the Queen. Now look at Adam. Look closely. The crown he wears is that of a Prince not a Queen. It speaks of respect, of the legacy, perhaps even of the heir to the throne. He may succeed Freddie but will never replace him.

In short his show was perfection from beginning to end. I do not know when we may see its like again and I urge you go if you can. It will live with me forever.


Craig Skelton

Craig is bassist/keyboardist for Australian Band Stone Circle and an accomplished solo artist




words by Craig Skelton and photos by The Rockpit August 2014



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