Queen + Adam Lambert. TD Garden. July 25, 2017

by James Nadeau

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday July 26, 2017

Adam Lambert and Brian May
Adam Lambert and Brian May  (Source:Lyle Waisman, One Nation © Lyle Waisman, One Nation © Lyle Waisman, One Nation © Lyle Waisman, One Nation)

It has got to be tough to be Adam Lambert. Not in a "gee, it's tough being a rock star on stage" kinda way, but in a "I gotta go out there and make people happy despite the fact I'm not Freddie Mercury and I'm singing his songs" way. There were many things that struck me at last night's performance but the least of it was whether or not he could do the job of filling Mercury's shoes. First off, no he couldn't. Adam Lambert is a fine singer but he doesn't have the range that Freddie did. And that is actually ok because Lambert did a pretty fantastic job. Not many people would step into this position. The fact that he did and he does it so well is commendable. Ultimately the show was one of "it is Queen but it isn't Queen."

Since the death of Freddie Mercury in 1991 Queen have reformed around other vocalists from time to time. From George Michael to Robbie Williams have stepped into his sizable shoes on a short term basis with Paul Rodgers (of Bad Company) preceding Adam Lambert as a "long term" singer for the band (Rodgers performed with Queen from 2004-2009). And while original bassist John Deacon stepped away from the band following Mercury's death, guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Tayler have kept the Queen machine rolling with several tours over the years. In that regard, it is still very much the Queen we know and love. There is no mistaking Brian May's guitar playing and last night it was a signature highlight.

Taking the stage to a giant reproduction of the robot from the cover of their seminal 1977 album "A Day at the Race" it was immediately evident that this show was going to be all about spectacle. And why not? Queen has always been a little bit of bombast. Adam Lambert might not be able to hit the heights of Mercury's singing but there is no mistaking the harmonies provided by May and drummer Taylor, both of whom actually turn turns at the mic. Brian May sat at the end of the long walkway in the audience with an acoustic guitar to perform "Love of My Life" with accompaniment by the late Mercury via a video image. This sounds creepier than it was. It was a moving tribute to the long lost singer (his mediated "ghost" appeared several times throughout the show). And Taylor took the lead vocals with "I'm in Love With My Car," a song I had no idea existed but he has a fine voice obviously so it worked.

The show was pretty much a greatest hits tour of the Queen catalog with Lambert fulfilling the "queen" role fittingly. One has to wonder how Mercury would have performed had he lived. Sure, everyone knew he was gay but to be an out singer like Lambert adds a whole other level of camp to the performance. Lambert was gay, gay, gay and the audience loved it. It certainly speaks to our time when 30 years ago a performer wouldn't have dared be a fierce queen on stage (especially in front of a very "bro" audience of rock fans). It wasn't directly a tribute to Freddie Mercury but as I mentioned his presence was certainly felt throughout the show. Much of "Bohemian Rhapsody" was done via tape with images of the original band looming over the audience. It was fitting that they acknowledge and nod to Mercury yet have a singer who is very clearly of the moment. Lambert was at times a little Michael Jackson, a touch of George Michael, and a personality all his own. It was Queen and it wasn't Queen but that's ok. Because it was still a damn fine show.

For upcoming dates of the Queen + Adam Lambert tour, visit the Live Nation website.