Los Angeles Forum July 20th review:
Queen are again on tour and after the tremendous success of the Bohemian Rhapsody film of last year, they aptly called this tour the Rhapsody Tour.
“The bigger, the better....in everything” Freddie Mercury once said and the band took this literally because it’s the biggest rock show out now. The visuals are simply stunning and are done in a way that suits a big band as Queen is.
Queen are working with Adam Lambert for 8 years now and he is no longer the new kid anymore. He proved himself to be a terrific singer who has enough self confidence to pull off a genuine stage act that is not a copy of Freddie Mercury. Although being capable of singing nearly all genres, he never tries to imitate Freddie Mercury’s phrasing. He is humble enough to address the public that he is just as a big fan of Queen and Freddie Mercury as they are and he would like to celebrate “the one and only Freddie Mercury”.
The opening of the show is grand. A newly recorded orchestral version of Innuendo is played on the PA building up the excitement. There are a lot of references to older Queen details for the true fan. For example, prior “Innuendo”, you hear someone ticking shortly, exactly in the way the “A Night At The Opera” Tour started back in 1975.
Also, before Brian May starts playing the muted D chord intro of Now I’m Here, the red curtains open in the way it’s also done in the Innuendo video.
After Brian Mays starts to play the intro, Adam Lambert and May himself are visually mirrored on the stage, claiming they are at a certain spot while they are actually not in order to increase the surprise effect for the audience. Again, this is a reference to the old days where Freddie Mercury made a similar appearance during the “A Night At The Opera” Tour. Cool stuff.
The show starts with a blistering version of Now I’m Here, the band sounds very tight and playing is superb. Roger Taylor is working hard behind his kit as the song is demanding some fast paced drumming. Then next are Seven Seas Of Rhye and Keep Yourself Alive, albeit in abbreviated versions, played in a similar way as on “The Works” Tour in 1984/85.
Before even to breath, May rocks out Hammer To Fall and we are treated on a full version. It’s impressive how both May (72) and Taylor (this month 70) are delivering so fresh versions of the songs. The playing is excellent on those songs.
Adam Lambert has his camp moment during Killer Queen and everything he does on stage are tongue in cheek, Freddie Mercury would certainly approve his sense of humor. Don’t Stop Me Now is an audience favorite and despite May claimed once he doesn’t like the song, it’s hard to believe he still doesn’t like it as he is smiling his way through the song and enjoying the moment as much as the audience does.
In The Lap Of The Gods is played as well and it’s a deep cut off Sheer Heart Attack from 1974. The audience sings the chorus along anyway, it’s works perfectly. They also do on Somebody To Love naturally, always been an audience favorite. Here you can hear a difference in execution with Freddie Mercury. Freddie always sang the song from the heart as if he was truly seeking for somebody to love. And despite the perfect execution in terms of technical performer, the singing is in my opinion not as daring.
The Show Must Go On is one of the hardest Queen songs to sing but Adam Lambert handles it very well and gives it his subtle personal twist. It is regrettable though that May doesn’t play the last solo as on the record but a much more simplified arrangements with some bending. Other highlights are I’m In Love With My Car where Roger Taylor proves he isn’t only one of the best rock drummers of all time but also a very capable lead singer. His raspy tones sound exactly like they did 40+ years ago.
There is also place for some rarities. Machines (Or Back To Humans) is a track that was never played live before and now found its way to the setlist with some stunning visuals and one of the best Adam Lambert vocals of the evening. He nails the song. The vocals of Freddie Mercury are nicely merged into the performance. Another highlight is Doing Alright off their very first album in 1973. It was also featured in the film and the short but to-the-point version captures the song beautifully. A blistering version of I Want It All followed featuring some marvelous drumming from Taylor and a speedy solo from May.
It was a pleasure to hear Brian May doing some lead vocals. First song was Love Of My Life which has a special place in many hearts with some poignant footage of Freddie Mercury. ‘39 followed and I think May’s explanation of the song’s meaning was not understood by everybody in the audience, but it was a beautiful version with May doing all the lead vocals.
The show continued with Crazy Little Thing Called Love, personally I never cared for the song but the audience went crazy on that one, same story with I Want To Break Free. Under pressure was a highlight as well, impressive vocals from both Adam Lambert and Roger Taylor. It’s just a timeless gem this song. They continued with Who Wants To Love Forever and Adam Lambert was able to go in heights that Freddie Mercury never was able to. What a performance, truly breathtaking. The guitar solo that followed was too long for my taste and only Last Horizon would have done the job perfectly. Tie Your Mother Down and Dragon Attack followed in abbreviated versions, both favorites here in the US. It got the tempo up for the last segment of the show before encores.
Another One Bites The Dust and Radio Ga Ga followed and got the audience standing, clapping and dancing so they were warmed up for the piece de resistance for the evening: Bohemian Rhapsody. The song never gets old and because of the film so many new fans attended the show. I saw all ages, from 10 to 90 really. Beautiful to see. “BoRhap” was sung passionately sung along by the audiences and everybody knew the show was coming to an end. They played around 28 tracks and 2 hours at that point. Impressive!
Freddie Mercury appears again on the screen to warm up the audience even more. No Queen show ends without the We Will Rock You/ We Are The Champions pair, and so it did also tonight in Los Angeles. A grand ending for a grand band.
This is truly one of the best touring acts of this time. The show is fresh and never indulges in nostalgia. The special effects are effective and adds to the experience. The laser show is impressive but certainly also the merge of Freddie Mercury into the show.
Queen are more relevant than ever. The songs are timeless and they found in Adam Lambert not only a great singer but also someone who really connects with the band and is the key why Queen’s music is still so much alive today.
God save the Queen!
You ain't seen nothing 'till your down on the muffin...;)