Entertainment » Music

Spectacular 'Rhapsody Tour' Celebrates Freddie Mercury

by Christopher Ehlers
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Aug 8, 2019
Adam Lambert and Brian May
Adam Lambert and Brian May  

Even just a few years ago it would have been hard to imagine that 2019 would be the year that Queen—nearly 50 years after their formation—reemerges as the band with the hottest, hardest to score concert tickets in the country. But owing in no small part to a little movie called "Bohemian Rhapsody," that's exactly what's happened.

Queen has become a relatively regular touring band ever since they picked up Adam Lambert as their new frontman back in 2012, but the box office success of "The Rhapsody Tour"—which played to a sold-out crowd of almost 20,000 at Mansfield's Xfinity Center on Sunday night—is unlike anything the band has seen since its last time on the road with Freddie Mercury back in 1986.

With tickets approaching four figures on the secondary market, "The Rhapsody Tour" is many things, not least of all an astonishing experience that left even this frequent concertgoer (and only vague Queen fan) in awe. With top-notch production values and original Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor seemingly still at the top of their games, this isn't an iconic band resting on their laurels or going through the motions. The spectacular show, which features 27 songs over two hours, is especially impressive for being something that rock concerts rarely are: moving.

Some of this, of course, has to do with the absence of Freddie (he does make a few appearances on the big screen), but it also has something to do with the way that Queen has managed to attract an audience that spans all generations, from senior citizens down to young kids, all of whom seemed to realize just how lucky they were to be there. And let me tell you, there's no mistaking the gleam that I saw in the eyes of nearly everyone in my general vicinity: this crowd came to worship and the air was thick with love, admiration, and respect.

But the admiration wasn't only directed up at the stage: plenty of it was given right back to the audience. "Good evening beautiful people," said Brian May about halfway through the setlist. He recalled with affection the band's early gigs in Boston: "the noise that you used to make... you treated us like rock stars when nobody else did. Eternally, our hearts are with you." Sitting on a stool with only his guitar, May then delivered a sincerely beautiful "Love of My Life," which turned into a rousing sing-along with the audience. "Let's make a little magic," May said, as an LED Freddie Mercury walked out on stage and finished the song off as a duet.

Such moments with Freddie were scarce, and to be honest I wanted more of them. But "The Rhapsody Tour" is more of an electrifying celebration than an elaborate memorial for a long-gone star, and it is smart that the proceedings didn't dwell on his absence for too long. The man of the hour this time around isn't Mercury, but Lambert, who just might be the most talented male vocalist in the game today. Lambert's voice is freakishly perfect and crystal clear, with his vocals on "Bohemian Rhapsody," "I Want to Break Free," and "I Want it All" approaching a particular kind of perfection. "Under Pressure," too, easily earns its place among the most satisfying live performances I've ever heard, with drummer Roger Taylor taking on the Bowie part.

The hits were well-peppered throughout the generous setlist with plenty of breaks worked in for Lambert to take a breather and change his clothes, but the energy tended to dip whenever non-hits like "Bicycle Race," "Machines," and "'39," of which May joked, "if you don't know the words to this one, clap along, or do whatever shit you do."

But the latter third of the concert, filled with Queen's most popular songs, is a sublime and uncommon treat that very well may justify whatever insanely high price you have to pay to snag a ticket. If the enduring appeal of Queen has shown us anything, over the last year, in particular, it's that this is Queen's planet. We're all just living on it.

"The Rhapsody Tour" continues on the American leg of its international tour through August 23. For a complete list of dates, visit the Queen website.

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