Queen guitarist Brian May is godlike in Vancouver

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At Rogers Arena on Saturday, June 28

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"

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102 Comments

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Rick

Jun 29, 2014 at 4:33am

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.

Richard Cathre

Jun 29, 2014 at 5:18am

Clearly your review was written with bias and prejudice. I will never visit your site again, you are a joke, straight.com my ass.

kitty

Jun 29, 2014 at 6:03am

Relative blandness of his voice??? Adam Lambert is by far the best rock singer of our time. You're an idiot.

jeremy

Jun 29, 2014 at 7:53am

What? Bland voice? Does not compute.

Sportjobformusic

Jun 29, 2014 at 7:53am

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.

Shane

Jun 29, 2014 at 8:49am

at least have the decency to spell Freddie's name right - wanker

sportjobformusic

Jun 29, 2014 at 9:28am

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.

Brien Comerford

Jun 29, 2014 at 10:06am

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.

Deb

Jun 29, 2014 at 10:43am

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.

Meathead

Jun 29, 2014 at 11:38am

Godlike? Brian May IS a god!

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