Queen guitarist Brian May is godlike in Vancouver

At Rogers Arena on Saturday, June 28

Photos

Freddie Mercury is a hard act to follow, there's no doubt about that. The Queen frontman possessed one of the greatest voices in rock, and anyone who saw him live at his peak in the '70s can testify that he was a truly riveting performer.

Mercury's death from AIDS in 1991, at the age of 45, didn't stop Queen from touring, but it took them a while to get back on track. It wasn't until 2005 that the band ventured out again as Queen + Paul Rodgers, with the former singer from Free, Bad Company, and the Firm joining Queen guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor on stage (Queen bassist John Deacon opted out of the gig).

Now May and Taylor have recruited a frontman exactly half Rodgers's age—32-year-old American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert—to carry on the Queen flame, and judging by his showing at Rogers Arena last night, it wasn't a bad call.

The concert opened with the multitracked guitar instrumental "Procession" from 1974's Queen II before a huge curtain bearing the majestic Queen logo was pulled away to coincide with May's delivery of the monster guitar riff from "Now I'm Here", a heavy rocker from the 1974 Sheer Heart Attack album.

The raucous vibe continued with another Sheer Heart Attack number, the frenzied "Stone Cold Crazy", before the familiar bass line from the band's best-selling single, the Deacon-penned "Another One Bites the Dust", made its presence known. May took the opportunity to inject some wild fuzz sounds into the tune via his "Red Special", the reddish-brown guitar custom-built by him and his dad.

By the time Queen was halfway through its fourth number, "Fat Bottomed Girls", it was obvious that Lambert's vocals lack that special something that made Mercury's—or even Rodgers's—stand out. But the openly gay singer's flamboyant performing style, charming audience interaction, and heavily accessorized glam-rock look went a long way toward making up for the relative blandness of his voice.

Rebecca Blissett

"Whaddya think of the new boy?" asked May after a performance of the 1981 Queen/David Bowie collaboration "Under Pressure", and the resounding applause made it clear that Lambert had impressed the vast majority of the crowd. Still, whenever Queen brought Mercury's vocals back via video, as it did briefly on "Love of My Life" and "Bohemian Rhapsody", you could tell its original crooner was in another league altogether.

And no matter how many fans Lambert won over during the night, he couldn't really wrest the spotlight away from the mighty May. The sheer joy that the 66-year-old rocker emanates—whether in straightforward boogie mode ("Tie Your Mother Down"), while dabbling in sci-fi skiffle (“’39”), or during pseudo-operatic excursions ("Bohemian Rhapsody")—is a wonder to behold.

God bless Brian May.

Rebecca Blissett

SETLIST:

1. "Now I'm Here"

2. "Stone Cold Crazy"

3. "Another One Bites the Dust"

4. "Fat Bottomed Girls"

5. "In the Lap of the Gods...Revisited"

6. "Seven Seas of Rhye"

7. "Killer Queen"

8. "Somebody to Love"

9. "I Want It All"

10. "Love of My Life"

11. "'39"

12: "These Are the Days of Our Lives"

13. "Under Pressure"

14. "Love Kills"

15. "Who Wants to Live Forever"

16. Guitar Solo

17. "Tie Your Mother Down"

18. "Radio Ga Ga"

19. "Crazy Little Thing Called Love"

20. "The Show Must Go On"

21. "Bohemian Rhapsody"

ENCORE

22. "We Will Rock You"

23. "We Are the Champions"

Comments (100) Add New Comment
Rick
You are entitled to your opinion but appear to be WAY out of sync with the majority of other critics. But that's your right.
Rating: +71
Richard Cathre
Clearly your review was written with bias and prejudice. I will never visit your site again, you are a joke, straight.com my ass.
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Rating: +52
kitty
Relative blandness of his voice??? Adam Lambert is by far the best rock singer of our time. You're an idiot.
Rating: +54
jeremy
What? Bland voice? Does not compute.
Rating: +75
Sportjobformusic
So you really don't like Adam Lambert. Even after your own comment.....

"Whaddya think of the new boy?" asked May after a performance of the 1981 Queen/David Bowie collaboration "Under Pressure", and the resounding applause made it clear that Lambert had impressed the vast majority of the crowd.

You obviously were not one of them. I guess you would have preferred Paul Rogers or even just put video of Mercury singing behind the band. With the crowd going totally nuts for the live performances you still couldn't make yourself admit Queen and Adam are an amazing fit. Instead you write.....

By the time Queen was halfway through its fourth number, "Fat Bottomed Girls", it was obvious that Lambert's vocals lack that special something that made Mercury's--or even Rodgers'--stand out. But the openly gay singer's flamboyant performing style and heavily accessorized glam-rock look went a long way toward making up for the relative blandness of his voice.

What the hell are you talking about? BLANDNESS!!! Are you nuts? I've heard a lot of descriptions about Adam's voice but I must tell you, BLANDNESS, has never been one of them.

Thankfully for me and the thousands attending tonight we heard something wonderfully different.
Rating: +74
Shane
at least have the decency to spell Freddie's name right - wanker
93
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Rating: +57
sportjobformusic
What happened to my earlier post? You didn't like because I differed with your opinion?

Don't be such a wimp if you are going to give an opinion you must allow everyone else to give theirs.
73
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Rating: +39
Brien Comerford
I loved this review. Brian May is a boundlessly talented, refined, majestic and creative guitarist. His tones and riffs are celestial. Brian May and Jeff Beck are the two best live guitarists.
38
60
Rating: -22
Deb
Have you lost your mind, or are you maybe tone deaf???? No doubt, Freddie's voice was fantastic, and nobody can really ever sound like him ever again in life, but Lambert's voice is so far from "bland" that I wonder if you were even coherent when writing this article? Your review is probably the second negative review that I have read so far for the Queen + Adam Lambert tour, and I have read probably a hundred. Yes, May can make his guitar sing and I LOVE HIM. Probably the only part of your article that makes sense. You really missed the mark.
Rating: +68
Meathead
Godlike? Brian May IS a god!
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Rating: +31
deb
By the way, it is FREDDIE. Not FREDDY. Wow.
74
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Rating: +40
betty henderson
Good God ! Adam Lambert is an AMAZING talent. He is Adam , NOT Freddie! He isn't trying to be! It's like someone doing Elvis, no matter how good they are THEY aren't Elvis. Your comments were "silly". Adam is one of the great Talents to come along in a LOOOONNNG time! I'm not even a huge fan, BUT the Boy can sure sing. Did Freddie Proud! WTG ADAM !
96
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Rating: +64
xxxxxyyyyy
One of the best concerts I have ever seen. What an honour to be in the same room as Brian May!. His performance left me in tears. As for Adam Lambert, he was very good. His voice is not bland at all. Can't think of anyone who could have done a better job. Sounds like the reviewer is bitter about life.
98
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Rating: +62
Jason
All I had to do was read your headline and I knew your were going to hate on Adam Lambert. Stupid and predictable.
90
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Rating: +51
Louise
I have listened to Adam Lambert's voice for 5 years and "bland" is NOT one of the words I would use to describe his voice - try soaring, mesmerizing, powerful, awe inspiring, beautiful, heartfelt (I could go on but you get my drift). As for stage presence and charisma, he has it in spades. When he sings ballads, you can feel the emotion and sense the crowd's response - it's beautiful.
Are you sure you're not confusing Levine's voice with Lambert's??
Sorry for the snark, but your words were so far off base that I got a bit indignant.
90
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Rating: +58
Martin Dunphy
Whoa, Newt. Never piss off American Idol cultists.
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Rating: -55
Another Louise
Bland?!?!? What planet are you from?

Separate from other comments, note that reviewer mentions nothing past Under Pressure, the entire second half of the show where Adam's voice soars an is truly anything but bland. I don't care if there is a deadline. The reviewer should review the ENTIRE show, not just snippets.
83
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Rating: +51
Another Louise
Note to Martin: Most fans of Adam Lambert are NOT American Idol cultists. We may have found out about him there, but many despise AI itself.
79
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Rating: +45
Thomas P
Without a doubt the most dishonest review I have ever read. I was at the concert last night with my family, we were all blown away by both Lambert and the band, so was the audience. Of course you can write anything you wish, but take some advice Mr Newton, writing reviews is not your calling.
Rating: +73
Sinc
You are kidding right--about Lambert's voice being "bland"? I mean I could understand you saying that you prefer Freddie's voice over his, but to say it is bland? That, my friend, is the farthest description from the truth. Been to 4 of his concerts and will be seeing Lambert with Queen in July. Never have I heard a singer with such a powerful, colorful, charismatic voice as Lambert's. In fact if you read all the reviews since the first concert in Chicago, no one has denied that Lambert is an incredible singer. Here is one of the reviewer's comments---"Lambert's voice is a technological tour de force and he quickly won over the Vancouver crowd with his huge range;" It leaves me thinking you went in with a biased against him being their frontman--if you were there like you make us believe with your article, you saw and heard the audience's reaction to his performance. How then could you be so off the mark? Yes, Brian and Roger are iconic--even Brian said at one of the concerts that Lambert has "one of the best rock voices in the world today". So do you think he was lying? C'mon man, your article lost credibility with me when I read that "bland" comment. And I am a lover of the original Queen--but I am open minded to this great new frontman.
Rating: +62

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